Kings' rookie Stauskas spends busy first day in Sac

SACRAMENTO - Kings rookie Nik Stauskas got his heart's content of Sacramento, and then some, during an overwhelming first day spent in the Capitol City.

The 20-year-old rookie from Canada, selected with the eighth overall pick in last Thursday's NBA Draft, began his busy day being introduced by the Kings organization during a morning press conference.

Stauskas was flanked by Kings' majority owner Vivek Ranadive, general manager Pete D'Alessandro and head coach Michael Malone on the panel, during his introductory media gathering. His parents, Paul and Ruta seated in the first row, beaming with joy to see their son in the spotlight, holding up his new Kings No. 10 jersey.

"It was cool, I was ready to go out there and start playing some games," Stauskas told News10. "Just to see 'Stauskas' on the back of that Kings jersey, it's a good feeling. I've been waiting to put an NBA jersey on my entire life, so it's a great feeling."

Following the hour-long media session, Stauskas then met with selected season ticket holders, before taking part in his first photo shoot donning his new Kings uniform. He then met again with team management and ownership over lunch. An hour later, it was off to the team's "Experience Center" or "XC Sacramento," located in downtown, just around the corner from the site where the new entertainment and sports complex will be built at the Downtown Plaza.

The Kings showed Stauskas and his parents the plans for the new arena and shared their overall vision of NBA 3.0, before they embarked on a three hour tour of the city in near 100-degree heat.

The tour of city took Stauskas and his entourage, consisting of his parents and team personnel, to Hornet Stadium at Sacramento State, where he was introduced to the crowd during a break of events at the U.S. Track and Field Championships. From there, the tour routed him into historic Old Sacramento, where the 6-foot-6 guard towered over tourists and sightseers, as he surprised them with Kings t-shirts and other team paraphernalia.

The final stop along the tour treated Stauskas to his first concert experience. A visit to the "Sactown Rocks" music festival at Capitol Mall which featured local bands like Tesla, Oleander and FallRise. Stauskas was introduced on stage and spoke briefly to the large crowd, before giving away more souvenirs and interacting with concert goers.

Stauskas was a man about the town, and he worked the crowds like a politician. He posed for countless pictures, signed all kinds of items and even held babies. Definitely a new experience for the Michigan rookie, who just hours before, right before midnight on Friday, was greeted by a few dozen fans at Sacramento International Airport when he landed after a long day of cross-country travel, following Thursday's NBA Draft in New York.

"Having people support me that don't even really know me, and I don't really know them, it's cool," Stauskas said. "I've never even been to Sacramento before and to all of a sudden come here and have this support, I feel very welcome and I'm happy to be a King."

After the city tour, Stauskas didn't go back to his hotel to get some much needed rest. No, instead, he opted to return to the team's practice facility to get in a workout for a couple hours with Kings assistant coach Chris Jent. Not a surprising move to the Kings brass, who have been warned that they have acquired a player known for a strong work ethic and a desire to get better.

This past college season, Stauskas was the Big 10 Player of the Year as a sophomore at Michigan, helping to lead the Wolverines (29-8) into the Elite Eight, where they fell to Kentucky 75-72. He led the Wolverines by scoring a team-high 24 points in 39 minutes, but Kentucky would narrowly advance, and go on to win the NCAA Men's Championship.

During the 2013-14 season, Stauskas averaged 17.5 points and 3.3 assists per game, shooting 47.0 from the floor, 44.2 from beyond the arc and 82.4 from the free throw line. He improved in all areas of his game from his freshman season, where his averaged 11 points and 1.3 assists per game, while shooting 46.3 from the floor, 44.0 from threes, and 85.1 from the stripe.

As a freshman, Stauskas started 33 of the 39 games he played, entering the starting lineup in just his seventh game.

"I think Nik Stauskas brings a lot to the table," said Malone. "Shooting, passing, ball handling, creativity - I think he's only going to get better.

"The jump he made from his freshman year to his sophomore year, I think was a tremendous one. In talking to the coaching staf at Michigan and coach (Jim) Beilein, they all feel he's only reached the beginning of that potential that we all feel he has."

The day's series of events came to an end following a one-on-one interview with News10 at his downtown hotel around 7:00 p.m. before Stauskas returned to his room to prepare for dinner with his family that evening. His early morning 6:00 a.m. flight on Sunday would return him home for about a week, before he returns to town to prepare for Kings' Summer League in Las Vegas.

Stauskas got his first taste of Sacramento on Saturday, and his life was forever changed. The boy from Mississauga, Ontario - located just outside of Toronto, was treated as if he were royalty by his new American fans, and now he's ready to represent Sacramento and make them proud.

Follow Sean Cunningham on Twitter: @News10Sean


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