Kings rookie Tyler Honeycutt dishes on what he likes to do when he’s not working on his game. Plus, No. 3 shares his reaction to getting pranked by his teammates and more.
He may have been drafted with the 35th-overall pick on June 23, 2011.
And on New Year’s Eve six month later, No. 3 may have made his NBA regular season debut.
It took until March 18 of this year, however, for Tyler Honeycutt to emphatically announce his arrival on the NBA scene.
It was on that night the Kings rookie made a statement against the Minnesota Timberwolves when he threw down a sensational slam over Wolves’ forward Michael Beasley that had his teammates dancing on the sidelines in amusement.
The UCLA product, who also has a penchant for blocking shots, has trained tirelessly to ensure his highlight reel is just getting started in the NBA.
Often sticking around for extra work after Kings practices, Honeycutt has been striving to enhance his game with shooting drills and rebounding work with Kings assistant coaches while earning the respect of his teammates in the process.
“He’s a good player (and) a good kid. He kind of reminds me of (former Kings guard) Kevin Martin,” said teammate Francisco Garcia on Kings Media Day. “He listens and he works hard on his game – he’s going to be a good player in the future.”
With the ferocity that Honeycutt attacks the basket, it’s hard to imagine the 6-foot-8 forward was a late bloomer when it came to rocking the rim.
“A lot of people don’t believe me,” he says. “But (I couldn’t dunk) until the end of 11th grade, after that summer.”
Despite getting delayed on lift-off, it didn’t take long for Honeycutt to establish his newfound hops as one of his calling cards.
“My second tournament playing for (AAU team) Pump ‘n’ Run, we played in Denver, and I had the game-winning dunk on somebody,” he recalls. “That kind of skyrocketed my recruiting from there on.”
Basketball, however, wasn’t the only sport in which Honeycutt excelled.
As an All-City volleyball player at Sylmar High School in L.A., Honeycutt received interest in playing volleyball for the 19-time National Champion UCLA volleyball team. The former outside hitter ultimately decided he didn’t have time to be a two-sport star and chose to stick with hoops for the Bruins.
Even though he’s hung up his kneepads, Honeycutt still says delivering a devastating spike is just as satisfying as a thunderous dunk.
“Hitting it inside the 10-foot line or popping someone in the chest, it’s a great feeling,” says Honeycutt with a grin.
Though he shares delight in finishing mercilessly at the rim and formerly at the net, No. 3 has a jovial and easygoing disposition off the hardwood.
Along with entertaining his good friend Hassan Whiteside and fellow Sacramento teammates, the 21-year-old has a number of hobbies to keep him occupied when he’s not working on improving his game.
Uniquely, he occasionally shows off his handles in the barbershop, something he started doing in high school.
“When I was younger my dad showed me a few things and I learned from that – watching barbers when I got my haircut – and then just practicing on my friends and teammates from high school,” he says. “Then, I ended up cutting most of the guys at UCLA.”
Although Whiteside is his lone Kings teammate to receive one of his famous “Honeycutts,” No. 3 occasionally trims his own hair as well.
“I keep it lined up, keep it shaped up so I don’t get too out of control.”
While he has established himself as a dunker and tonsorial artist, Honeycutt is still expected to carry out many of the “rookie duties” that come with being a first-year player.
“I have to carry (Francisco Garcia’s) peppermint body wash, (and) we all have bags we have to carry (on the road),” he says. “Jimmer (Fredette is) in charge of candy. I have to bring cards for the plane because we like to play cards.”
Honeycutt says the team usually cuts him and his fellow rookies some slack, though.
“It’s not too bad,” he confesses. “We have one of the youngest (NBA) teams, if not the youngest team, so it’s not too bad.”
That doesn’t mean Honeycutt hasn’t had to learn from the classic Kings prank of having his car filled with popcorn – a trick he assures was taken in stride.
“I was mad,” he says. “Then, I just laughed because everybody came out, and we all started eating popcorn out of the car, and (I) just smiled because there wasn’t anything I could do about it.”
A humble attitude, coupled with a strong work ethic, has earned the Kings forward quick respect among his teammates. Whether it’s getting in extra work after practice or turning a practical joke into a team snack, Honeycutt is making the most of his rookie season.
WATCH: Honeycutt dunks over Beasley
WATCH: Tyler Honeycutt’s Crazy Hops
WATCH: A Day In the Life: Hassan’s Adventures – featuring Honeycutt’s barbershop handles