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Spurs Rookie Jeremy Sochan Embracing Rookie Year Opportunities

San Antonio Spurs first-round draft pick Jeremy Sochan scored just nine points over his first three career games, but has seen his usage and chances increase over the past few weeks.

When the San Antonio Spurs selected Jeremy Sochan No. 9 overall in the 2022 NBA Draft, there was an immediate sense of intrigue from the former Baylor product. 

The 19-year-old played just one season for the Bears before declaring for the draft, averaging 9.2 points, 6.4 rebounds and over a steal per game en route to be crowned Big 12 Sixth Man of the Year. 

In just one season of college basketball the 6-9 versatile forward asserted himself as a raw prospect (especially offensively) but one worth taking a chance on. 

"There may be no better defensive player in the nation than [Sochan], whose athletic skills coupled with a 6'9" frame gives him the ability to guard anyone from point guards to post players," Dave Skretta of the Associated Press wrote in February.

And through his first 14 career NBA games, the defensive instincts that were on full display in his one-and-done college campaign have translated to the next level - often guarding the best opposing player on a nightly basis. 

"He can guard all five positions," Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich said. "He has got quick feet. He is long. He has got a knack for it and enjoys it. He is special in that way."

Along with this, the ability to play for a rebuilding team such as the Spurs has provided opportunities to grow his game in other areas. 

With Tre Jones out in Monday's game against the Golden State Warriors with an illness, Sochan stepped in as point guard while receiving the occasional match-up against Steph Curry. 

And while the end result was not ideal, the opportunity still provided Sochan a valuable lesson from a player that he not only looked up to, but one he also drew comparisons to in the pre-draft process. 

"[Draymond Green] is a player I have always looked up to," Sochan said before the game. "He's a great player, so it's going to be cool to play against him, defend him and also just learn from him, see what he does on the court, they way he talks to people, the way he is vocal, learn from him in that way. It's going to be a lot different than watching him on film."

The rookie will continue doing whatever is needed for the team throughout the season; whether that be running the point, diving after loose balls, or guarding one through five defensively. 

"I'm a rookie, so I'm not going to come in and take the ball out of other players hands," Sochan said. "Finding a way to stay on the court doing little things is going to be big for me."

Sochan and the Spurs are back in action tonight against Damian Lillard and the Portland Trail Blazers (9-4). Tipoff is scheduled for 10 p.m. 

You can follow Riley Sheppard on Twitter @RileyDSheppard

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