Adversity is nothing new to Sean Singletary.
Most people are excited to be given the chance to play in the NBA. It is the dream of millions of young people from the time they first pick up a basketball.
Still, even though most draft boards did not even include Singletary’s name, he was far from jumping for joy when his name was finally called in the middle of the second round by the Sacramento Kings.
“Being the competitor that I am, I was a little disappointed,” Singletary said to reporters the following day, “but I wasn’t annoyed. Everyone that got picked deserved to be picked, [but] I’ll definitely have motivation from where I was picked.”
Singletary was the second player taken from the ACC this year behind N.C. State’s J.J. Hickson, and yet all Singletary received from the “experts” was faint praise.
“The Kings needed a point guard and Singletary is a talent,” Chad Ford of ESPN wrote. “He can score and dish and could be a nice backup point guard. But if Beno Udrih leaves via free agency, Singletary isn’t good enough to take over—he could barely produce wins in the ACC.”
Certainly Virginia struggled last season, enduring a painful stretch of basketball in which they lost 10 out of 11 games including a blowout loss at Xavier. Their season ended against Bradley at home in the semifinals of the inaugural (and hopefully final) CBI tournament.
However, anyone who spent more than a moment watching these games could realize just how much Singletary produced for four magical years in Charlottesville, VA.
Singletary is only six feet tall and yet he has produced some of the biggest plays in the last few decades of Virginia basketball. Most college basketball fans will remember him for his falling down shot against Duke last season to give the Cavaliers a dramatic 63-61 victory and a spot atop the ACC standings.
His stare at the ESPN camera following the improbable shot showed the heart of a young man who had been proving people wrong all his life.
Singletary has experienced the highest of highs and the lowest of lows during his career.
He can claim victories over every single ACC team, beating Arizona three times in his career and outplaying third pick of the 2006 draft Adam Morrison in Spokane.
He has numbers most people can only dream about, being the only player in ACC history with 2,000 points, 500 assists, 400 rebounds, and 200 steals for his career. All of this was done with defenses knowing they had to stop him, and yet Singletary scored in double figures every single game last season. That streak was even better than North Carolina’s Tyler Hansbrough.
Still adversity has challenged Singletary throughout his time at Virginia. His team, despite all his gaudy numbers, went 66-56 during his career with the Cavaliers.
Singletary constantly had to take over games because he lacked the supporting talent to ease his burden. Being asked to do so much, he never complained, even when his teammates underperformed. He has always had a strong sense of optimism and determination, believing up until the ACC tournament that this team had a chance of going to the NCAA tournament.
That hope is something that he will need in rebuilding Sacramento.
He also had to deal with personal loss as well. After a loss at N.C. State, Singletary was told about the murder of one of his close childhood friends. Singletary later admitted this was the seventh time he had received such news during his young life.
He chose Virginia over schools like Connecticut and Kansas so that his cancer-stricken parents from Philadelphia could easily come down to watch his games.
Still, he has found a way to manage the pain both mentally and physically.
For many years, Singletary played with a shoulder and hip injury. He had offseason surgeries his first two years at Virginia and yet he only missed one game his entire career at Virginia.
In his junior year, he averaged more minutes than any other player in the ACC, including a 37-minute performance against Arizona to open the John Paul Jones Arena with a 16-point comeback.
Now Singletary is healthy and ready to prove people wrong again. Many of his own fans who have loved his moments at Virginia believe he is too short, too turnover prone, and too defensively deficient to compete in the NBA.
Too bad all those NBA medical tests cannot measure the size of your heart.
It is that adversity which has always made Singletary stronger. He could have easily given up last year when his team was in the ACC cellar but he continued to compete. He could have given up after a very lackluster performance in NBA camps last year, but he improved and impressed many teams including the Kings.
It garnered him the 42nd pick of the draft.
That hard work has paid off and now the next challenge has appeared. With both starting guards for the Kings being free agents and most of their headlines surrounding perennial distraction Ron Artest, Singletary may be just what the doctor ordered.
Singletary will work hard and provide a passion and energy each and every night. He will not be perfect at first, rookies never are. However, you can be sure that he will continue to work and practice until he reaches his goal.
So go ahead and doubt him. He's used to it by now.