One day after learning they both made the Wizards’ roster, undrafted rookies Danuel House and Sheldon McClellan walked through the halls of the Verizon Center to meet with reporters waiting to discuss the news. As they turned a corner, they played rock-paper-scissors to determine who would go first. House won, giving him the opportunity to not only get his part out of the way, but also to have some fun with the other during his media scrum.
House jumped and waved his arms. He made goofy faces, he stared intently. All of it was to mess with a guy he's been friends with for years.
They are new teammates in the NBA, but House and McClellan needed no introduction when they arrived at Wizards training camp. The two have been close since middle school when they were both kids growing up in Houston, Texas.
McClellan, a 6-foot-6 guard, left Bellaire High School in 2011 first for the University of Texas before later transferring to Miami. House, a 6-foot-7 forward, starred at Hightower High School, began at the University of Houston in 2012 and later joined Texas A&M.
They each took different paths, but here they are, both members of the Washington Wizards.
"It’s exciting. We’re like brothers," House, who averaged 15.6 points for the Aggies last season, said.
"Just to see each other succeed, there’s no greater feeling in the world. To see two people from Houston, Texas go undrafted and then make the roster, that’s big for our hometown and especially for our community. If you keep pushing and fighting, you never know what’s going to happen."
McClellan said learning he made the Wizards was the best moment of his life. His name was not called on draft night, but he defied the odds to not only make a roster, but join a team with playoff aspirations.
McClellan scored 16.3 points per game and shot 56.8 percent from the field for the Hurricanes as a senior during the 2015-16 season. He's ready to now take the next step in the NBA, and do it alongside House.
"It’s a special moment, as far as both of us being from Houston and both growing up playing against each other," McClellan said. "Now we have a chance to grow in this organization together. It’s just been a bonding thing from when we were little to now."
McClellan smiled as he spoke, but didn't break his focus when House did his comedy routine behind the cameras.
"I’m not even paying attention to him," McClellan said. "I knew he was going to stand there. I’m just not paying attention. That’s what he does."
McClellan also passed on an opportunity to fire back at House, who got a jab in during his own session with the media.
"We played against each other in high school. I won. That’s my man, but I won," House said.
They have been friendly foes often over the years. Now, they are teammates.
At $26 million, a relatively small number based on the free-agent market this summer, Andrew Nicholson could turn out to be a top five bargain for the Wizards.
The 6-9 forward was a first-round draft pick of the Orlando Magic in 2012. He came to Washington after averaging 6.5 points and 3.2 rebounds in four years but his role under coach Scott Brooks is broadening.
With Ian Mahinmi out because of left knee surgery, Nicholson is logging time as a backup center to Marcin Gortat, too, and his improving three-point stroke is giving the Wizards a legitimate spread five option.
“He can score down low at the block. He’s done a pretty good job of picking up how to guard the perimeter players that can shoot 3s,” Brooks said. “He’s played multiple positions at those two big spots. You need versatility. He’s picked things up pretty good.”
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Aside from a variety of low-post moves and not shying away from physical play with his 250-pound frame, Nicholson made 47% of his three-point shots. He shot a career-high 36% from deep in Orlando last season.
He uses his lower body well to get into defenders and establish position under the basket. He can finish via jump hook with either hand. When Markieff Morris leaves, Nicholson will be the next man up. He has been effective in spot minutes as the center. They may have stumbled upon a wrinkle that otherwise might not have been so obvious with Mahinmi, who was sitting out practices at training camp with other ailments.
“He definitely has an old-man game. I think we’d be the 1 and 2 pick in the YMCA pickup game," Brooks said. "He knows how to play the game. There’s definitely a spot for guys like Drew He knows how to play the game. He understands his role. He’s not going to wow you with athleticism but he’s going to be a consistent performer every night.”
That quality alone will make Nicholson an upgrade.
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