Tony Snell is out to prove that he belongs in the League.
by Stephanie Mejia / @SMejia_
Tony Snell’s journey to the NBA Draft included a few detours, but regardless of where he found himself, Snell always found a home on the hardwood.
Originally from Los Angeles, Snell and his family bounced around from city to city. His mother worked long hours to provide a better living for her children. At a young age, Snell found himself spending long hours in local parks playing basketball with whomever was around. No matter where he was at, he always found a park to play in.
He attended a few high schools until he found a home at Martin Luther King in Riverside, CA. It was here where basketball became more than a daily activity. Snell met two individuals who would hold a significant weight in his life on and off the court, and who would change the direction of his life: Marvin Lea and Clint Parks.
Lea and Parks, at the time, were bringing their own vision to life within the Riverside community—an AAU program, Team Eleate. While most kids experience AAU at a young age, some even before high school, Snell was a late-bloomer and didn’t experience that platform until the closing of his high school career.
Instead of playing him at the 5, as he was accustomed to at King High, Snell played point guard with Team Eleate. Alongside Kawhi Leonard, Tony Snell was welcomed to the circuit. His name was brewing, but he had another stop before college, Westwind Preparatory Academy in Arizona. He had a number of schools courting him but the frontrunners were San Diego State, Washington State and University of New Mexico.
When it came down to it, New Mexico was not only the best fit but they had been in his corner for quite some time. Fast forward to this past March, Snell played significantly well for the Lobos and made a name for himself during the Mountain West tournament, and yet again his name was buzzing.
The time had come again for a change of setting and direction: After playing three seasons at New Mexico, he opted to forgo his senior year and enter the NBA Draft. His decision may have been and still is questionable to some, but he felt that it was time. He has been waiting on his moment to show the world what he’s always known from Day One: Tony Snell belongs.
Since the tough loss to Harvard, he has been training in Los Angeles daily with one goal: To break into the first round. I was given the opportunity to watch a two-hour workout of Snell with a few other players in downtown L.A.
On the offensive end, Snell is able to take the ball up the court with ease, which was seen this past season. After watching a few ball-handling drills, it is evident that Snell is able to get quite low for his height as well as use both hands well. His strength, and where he excels, is in his perimeter shooting. At New Mexico, he did an excellent job at moving without the ball, and there’s no arguing that he will be able to stretch out past the NBA three-point line. Snell has above-average court vision, solid feel for the game, quick release and smooth stroke. Where he will need some polishing is being able to create off the bounce.
With only a few days left and 15-plus workouts under his belt, the anticipation of his name being called in the Draft is at a high. It will be another chance to prove to himself what he’s always known: That he belongs on the hardwood, his home away from home.