Settled into a hotel room in Chicago, one of who knows how many hotel rooms he's seen over the past few weeks, Isaiah Roby had a little time to reflect on the ride he's on.
"This is what most guys dream of, you know?" Roby said by phone Thursday afternoon. "Having the opportunity to go to these places and work out against other elite players in front of coaches in different NBA cities, and being able to play in their practice facilities or their arenas, it's what everybody dreams of."
Having announced last month his plans to test the NBA Draft waters, Roby has been on the move ever since. He's already worked out for three teams — the San Antonio Spurs, Minnesota Timberwolves and Milwaukee Bucks — and has a fourth workout this weekend with the Chicago Bulls. Then it's on to next week's NBA Draft Combine, and more workouts with individual teams after that.
Interest in his game, Roby said, has been high.
"More teams reached out than I could even do before the combine," Roby said.
There's also plenty of interest in Lincoln about Roby's decision whether to turn professional or return to school — a decision Roby said he hasn't yet made, and probably won't for a little while. Right now, it's about gathering as much information as possible through workouts and the combine. Roby has until May 29 to make a final decision.
No matter what he decides, he said Nebraska new coach Fred Hoiberg will be supportive.
"His message from Day 1 has been, he's behind me 100%. If he thinks I've got a shot to get a good draft spot in a good situation, he said he'll be the first to congratulate me," Roby said. "So he's definitely behind me in that sense, but he's also said that guys like me have had great success in his system, especially in college, and he thinks he can do stuff for me and we can have success together.
"So our mindsets are in the same place."
For now, Roby's mindset is on performing in front of NBA personnel. The 6-foot-8, 230-pounder said he's up by 6:45 nearly every morning, and even on his off days isn't in bed past 8:30. He's in the routine of getting up early, getting in the gym, and working alongside some of the top collegiate players in the country.
How elite is the group Roby is running with? Consider these names that join him in the gym every day: Purdue's Carsen Edwards, Virginia's Ty Jerome, Tennessee's Admiral Schofield, Gonzaga's Brandon Clarke, Maryland's Bruno Fernando, Wisconsin's Ethan Happ, Belmont's Dylan Windler and DePaul's Max Strus.
That's five All-Americans, eight all-conference selections, a national champion (Jerome) and the only player in America to average 20 points, 10 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game (Windler).
Keep in mind Roby wasn't so much as an honorable mention all-Big Ten pick after this season. But his sky-high potential and tantalizing physical gifts have him in the conversation with some of the best players in the college game, and a real threat to break Nebraska's string of not having an NBA draft pick that dates back to Venson Hamilton in 1999.
"I think the most surprising thing that I've found so far is, at most of these workouts, I feel like I've been the most overall skilled, athletic guy in the gym as far as those two things," Roby said. "And that's just something I'm trying to show these teams."
After working out for the Bulls this weekend, Roby will stay in the city for next week's combine, which begins on Wednesday. Each of the 66 players invited to the combine will go through medical testing and and interviews with NBA coaches and executives, and participate in on-court drills and 5-on-5 workouts. ESPN2 will televise portions of the combine Thursday and Friday.
Roby figures to get a good, long look. NBA teams so far have worked him out both on the wing and in the post, and put him in situations as both a ball handler and a roll man in pick-and-roll situations. He got a preview of what he would see from Hoiberg, the former Bulls coach and Timberwolves vice president of basketball operations, in two weeks of workouts the pair did before Roby went on the road.
While it was awkward, Roby said, seeing Tim Miles fired and quickly starting to work with a new coach in Hoiberg, the relationship has been a good one.
"Hoiberg came in and he had a lot of good stuff to say about Miles — no slander for Coach Miles at all. He said he liked what Miles did for the program and he thinks he can build on that," Roby said. "So when we got in the gym, it was strictly business. (When he was hired) he said, 'We can get in the gym tomorrow.' And we got in there and got to work."
Roby has also watched from afar as Hoiberg and his coaching staff have almost completely remade Nebraska's lineup. As it currently stands, Roby, Thorir Thorbjarnarson and Dachon Burke are the only players from last season's team still on the roster, and only Roby and Thorbjarnarson saw the court last season as Burke sat out to satisfy NCAA transfer requirements.
"That's one thing that's obviously going to be affecting my decision," Roby said. "Me and Coach Hoiberg have been in contact, but seeing things from the outside, I'm trying to see how the team is coming together for next year.
"I do think Coach Hoiberg is going to have a lot of success at Nebraska, but I only have one season. So I'm definitely keeping my eye on how the team's looking and what moves the coaches are making."