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Canadian Jordan Bachynski driving the basket led the NCAA in shot blocking this past season with Arizona State. (Morry Gash/The Associated Press)
Canadian Jordan Bachynski driving the basket led the NCAA in shot blocking this past season with Arizona State. (Morry Gash/The Associated Press)

Fatherhood inspires Canadian NBA hopeful Jordan Bachynski Add to ...

Jordan Bachynski has only a handful of NBA cities left to visit ahead of next week’s draft in what’s been a gruelling few weeks of workouts.

But the seven-foot-two centre from Calgary is more focused than ever – because between Miami and Detroit, Bachynski became a dad.

Bachynski’s wife Malia gave birth to their son Kawika – pronounced Ka-vee-ka – last Friday. The baby thankfully arrived on a day Bachynski happened to be home on a brief break.

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“It really does puts things in perspective and it helps me stay focused on the things that are most important and cut out all the things that aren’t going to help me get to my goal,” Bachynski said.

The 24-year-old Arizona State grad, who led the NCAA in shot blocking this past season, is among a bumper crop of Canadians hoping to hear their name called at the June 26 NBA draft in Brooklyn, N.Y. The players have all spent the past couple of weeks crisscrossing the continent in the gruelling process of predraft workouts and interviews.

Bachynski’s wife had instructed him not to miss a workout to rush home for the birth. But as luck would have it, baby Bachynski arrived during a previously-scheduled break. He flew home to Phoenix on Thursday, and his son was born the next morning.

“I was really worried about [missing it] but thankfully he waited until I had a couple of days off,” Bachynski said. “He came on Friday the 13th, which for my family has been not an unlucky day, but a great day. I also got married on a Friday the 13th.”

Bachynski met his wife – a former Sun Devils volleyball player – on his first day on campus of his freshman year.

“We have been together ever since,” he said. “She comes from an athletic family, all four of her brothers played college football, so she totally gets it, she’s a huge supporter of it.

“She was with me through ups and downs, and this [playing in the NBA] has become her dream as much as it is mine. So it’s amazing to have that kind of support.”

Bachynski said the arrival of his son has already had a big impact on how he approaches his workouts.

“Oh yeah, it helps me work that much harder, because I have that much more to fight for,” he said. “I was talking to a guy today while I was walking around to stretch my legs, telling him [my son] is the first person that when I finally did meet him I wanted to give him everything.

“I want to provide a good life for him and I really feel like I can do that with basketball. I have a child and a wife to provide for and that just gives me that much more to fight for.”

Bachynski was speaking on the phone from Washington, D.C. – he had to pause and think for a moment when asked where he was. His next stop: he can’t remember. He has to check his itinerary. That’s how crazy the predraft process is.

He’d already worked out for Houston, Dallas, Philadelphia, Chicago, Toronto, Miami and Detroit, and will have worked out for 11 teams by the time he’s finished.

He feels he’s fared well in his auditions.

“One thing that I showed every workout that I think can really help teams is that I show them what kind of a teammate I’m going to be. I bring a lot of energy and I bring a lot of positivity to every workout,” Bachynski said.

“I remember talking to one of the guys that I’ve had a few workouts with, he said he loves and hates working out with me. One, he loves it because of the energy that I bring, and it’s fun. And two, he hates playing against me. I think just the energy that I bring and how hard I work and how hard I play impresses teams.”

Bachynski was a hit with the media on his stop in Toronto, cracking jokes throughout his interviews. He took a circuitous route to the draft – spending two years after high school in Miami on his Mormon mission during which he barely touched a basketball – before heading to ASU.

He was a late bloomer, so while he’s the oldest player in the draft, he calls himself an old head in a young body.

“Coming out of high school I was soaking wet, with towels on, 210 pounds [95 kilograms],” said Bachynski, who now weighs about 255. “It just took my body a little bit more time to mature and it gave me the time I needed to progress.”

There could be as many as eight Canadians selected in next week’s draft, led by Andrew Wiggins, a projected top-three pick. Nik Stauskas and Tyler Ennis are also expected to go in the first round.

Bachynski is a projected second-round pick.

“Quite honestly, I don’t even look at that stuff. Those draft boards, as fun as they are to look at – and when you’re in college when you get on a draft board it’s big news – but one thing I’ve come to learn is that no one knows the future,” he said.

“There are very few bigs in this draft and there is a big need for bigs, especially rim protectors. Everywhere I go, every workout I’ve done, they all stress defence and that’s something I’m excellent at and I think I’m going to surprise a lot of people. I’ve been an underdog my whole career, a little-known guy out of Calgary, Alberta. I love being under the radar, it’s a good place to be.”

Bachynski will watch the draft from his Phoenix home with his wife and son and his parents.

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