Nobody needs to tell Chris Singleton the transition from college to the professional basketball ranks can be a rocky one. Peruse footage from his nightly battles last season against NBA heavyweights for the confidence-shaking proof.
The small forward with a reputation for defense during his days at Florida State went from being an ACC stalwart to an NBA rookie tasked with guarding the likes of point-producing icons Carmelo Anthony and Paul Pierce. The pair of NBA All-Stars and scores of other league veterans took no pity on the new guy thrust into the starting lineup earlier than desired by the rebuilding and injury-plagued Wizards.
Seven games into last season, Washington hosted Anthony and the Knicks. The Olympian and noted scoring machine torched the locals for 37 points in a winning effort including the go-ahead 3-pointer in the closing seconds. Much of Anthony's net-singeing exploits came at Singleton's expense.
After that abrupt "Welcome to the NBA" moment, Singleton tangled with Pierce. Without Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen in the lineup, the future Hall of Famer assertively tallied 34 points and 10 assists while directing the Celtics to a victory in Washington. Once again, it was Singleton finding himself on the wrong end of an NBA superstar looking to do harm.
"This is the NBA. I should have known that coming in," Singleton said. "I didn't know they were going to come at me like they did. I think they looked before the game and were like "who's the new kid," saw the "R" besides my name. They brought everything at me.
"I'm glad they did that. I'm ready for whatever."
As it turns out, the next "whatever" involves a battle for playing in a suddenly crowded Wizards frontcourt, particularly at the small forward position. Singleton started 51 games in that spot last season and became the first Washington rookie in 20 seasons to play every regular season game. Despite putting up credible numbers - 4.6 points, 3.5 rebounds while shooting 35 percent from beyond the arc - Singleton harshly graded his first season a "D" shortly before heading off for the summer.
Now, after playing with the Wizards entry in the Las Vegas Summer League, training and taking classes at Florida State, Singleton is ready to prove lessons have been learned.
"I worked on my shot, being a lot more aggressive. That's one thing I tried to showcase in summer league. Every time I step on the court, I try to be the most aggressive player on the court," said the 6-foot-9 Singleton, who described is training camp-ready physique as "more lean now, more fit. I'm still strong like I was last year."
In the rising second-year forward's mind, being more aggressive means not shying away from ball handling duties, that means "I can't let people drive past me."
It also means gearing up for competition on the wing where the Wizards added likely starter Trevor Ariza and 3-point threat Martell Webster. Washington also retained free agent swingman Cartier Martin.
"I embrace it," Singleton said of the preseason tussle for minutes. "The front office did what they said they would, they brought in more players. We're deep at a lot of positions. I think that's going to be good for us, everybody is going to leave everything on the court."
Fellow second-year players Jan Vesely and Shelvin Mack are in similar spots. This is how the pro life works. Singleton knows this now. He's ready to show the kid is wide-eyed no more.
"You got to kill or be killed in this league," said the metaphorically speaking Singleton. "There are only like 400 (NBA players) each year and its constantly rotating, 60 more each year. You have to go out there and play. I think I'm ready to do that."
Now he just has to beat out others on his own team for that opportunity.