Garret Siler's heart dropped when he saw Hawks team assistant Michael John Garrett walk from one side of the locker room to the other and tap two players on the shoulder. Was he next?
Was his time up?
It turns out that Siler wasn't one of the players on his way out of the Hawks' training camp that day. Frank Robinson and Aaron Miles were the first players cut. Three weeks into training camp, Siler is still here, grinding his way through every single day and still hopeful that he'll make the Hawks' roster the hard way, as an undrafted rookie free agent.
For a moment, though, albeit a brief moment, the 7-foot rookie center from Augusta State thought his dream was over.
"Mike was like the grim reaper that day," Siler said. "It was real scary. You knew that day if he tapped you, and you had to go back and talk to [ Hawks general manager] Rick Sund, it wasn't going to be a good thing. Once that moment passed, I realized that I'm here for a reason and I just have to do work."
A recent groin injury slowed Siler a little, but otherwise "work" is exactly what he has done in camp. He has used every ounce of his massive frame (he's officially listed at a generous 305 pounds in the Hawks' preseason media guide) to make his presence felt around the basket. He has also made an impression on Hawks coach Mike Woodson, who understands that players Siler's size don't come along every day.
"I just think the fact that he's such a big body, it makes him intriguing, especially when you consider he hasn't been playing Basketball that long," Woodson said. "I know as coaches, we always feel like we can take a player like that and help mold him into a more finished product as a player. He's one of those projects that if you work with him for a few years, you feel like you can really make him into something."
Talk about making the most of every minute.
Swingman Mo Evans did exactly that in his preseason debut in Wednesday's win in Memphis. Evans led the Hawks with 27 points in 26 minutes off the bench, shaking off the rust to shock the Grizzlies while also reminding his teammates and coaches that he's capable of such feats on any given night.
"Coach said he wanted to see what my conditioning was like. And I think I passed the test," Evans said with a smile. "Seriously, I was lucky to get into a good rhythm, and Coach let me play a little bit, and it just kind of took off the from there."
That Evans could come off the bench cold like that and turn in that kind of effort on offense speaks volumes about the Hawks' improved depth.
Next for Hawks
Who: vs. Wizards
When: 7 p.m. Monday