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Proviso West’s Robert Covington builds his case at NBA combine

Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational - Day 1 - Mississippi Valley State v Tennessee State

Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational - Day 1 - Mississippi Valley State v Tennessee State

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Updated: May 17, 2013 3:38PM

Robert Covington’s name doesn’t show up in most of the NBA mock drafts all over the Internet. He wasn’t on the first list of 60 invites for the NBA draft combine this week at Quest Athletics Center on the West Side. But if Covington is good at anything besides basketball, it’s surpassing expectations.

“I saw the list when it first came out, and I was disappointed,” Covington said. “A day or two days later, I found out I was in from Twitter. It was a shock to see my name on there, and I felt good.”

Covington was tall, lanky and athletic when he graduated from Proviso West four years ago. He wasn’t a McDonald’s All-American, and he didn’t make much of a dent on the local high school scene. He had two offers to play Division I basketball: Tennessee State and Sacramento State. Neither regularly sends players to the NBA predraft camp.

“It’s something I’ve always had to deal with, proving myself,” Covington said. “It fuels me. A lot of people told me I wouldn’t be able to compete on the D-I college level. That was motivation for me to prove people wrong.”

Covington bulked up at Tennessee State. He weighed 175 pounds after high school and put on 40 pounds during his college career. All of a sudden, the tall, athletic kid was strong.

There still are plenty of skeptics. ESPN ranks Covington 69th overall and 14th at power forward. Listed at 6-9, he was measured at 6-71/2 in shoes at the combine. Covington had a strong showing at the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament, which likely led to the combine invitation.

“I love proving people wrong,” he said. “Once I got to Tennessee State, people thought I wasn’t going to be much, but I came out here and showed the reason why I’m good at what I do.”

He shot well Thursday at the combine, showcasing fairly consistent NBA three-point range.

“I feel like I did great,” Covington said. “They say that sometimes my demeanor may look like I’m not going as hard. I showed I fought through everything, even though I was tired.”

For all the hoopla surrounding the on-court activities, most NBA decision-makers value the combine for the raw measurements of size and strength and the in-person interviews with the players. Covington has met with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Charlotte Bobcats and the Miami Heat on Thursday. He also has talked with San Antonio Spurs, Oklahoma City Thunder, Boston Celtics and the Bulls.

“This is a great opportunity so I’m prepared for anything that is going to come my way,” Covington said. “For me to be where I am proves that hard work and dedication pay off. Once you have opportunities and the right mind-set, you can do anything.”

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