Although it was only a scrimmage built to give fans their first glimpse of the 2021-22 Dallas Mavericks, excuse Eugene Omoruyi for playing this scrimmage as if it was a regular season game.

“That’s all I know how to play,” the rookie forward from Oregon said. “I don’t know how to joke around.

“I play hard. and that’s my game.”

Omoruyi was playing so hard during Sunday’s Fan Jam at American Airlines Center that he inadvertently popped superstar point guard Luka Doncic in the mouth. After apologizing on the court to Doncic, Omoruyi continued with his physical business-like approach in a game his Blue team ultimately won over Doncic’s White team, 72-57.

“I’m just doing whatever the team needs me to do,” Omoruyi said. “Just coming out and learning. That’s big for me — learning and just coming out this year, sticking to my role and just building upon that.

“It’s a steady journey and I’m taking it slow and taking it day-by-day. Anything I can do to help my team win – whether it’s diving on loose balls, coming out there and just yelling, or run up and down. If that’s my job, then I’m going to do it to the best of my abilities.”

An undrafted rookie, Omoruyi said he’s been leaning on all the Mavs veterans for some sage advice about making in the NBA, with a lot of that advice coming from Dwight Powell and Reggie Bullock. The 24-year old even had to laugh when reminded that when he’s learning basketball from Doncic, he’s learning from someone who’s two years younger than him.

Omoruyi is all business“It’s crazy, but like I said he knows more on the ropes on the NBA than me,” Omoruyi said. “Just learning from someone like that and picking their brain, you start to learn a lot of things, no matter the age difference.

“Even though he’s younger than me, he’s a vet. You learn from everyone, and you just try to pick their brain when you can and that’s what I’m really doing – picking their brain every day in practice.”

And what in particular are the veterans telling Omoruyi about the NBA?

“If you miss a shot, shoot it again,” he said. “Be confident in your game. Everybody is out here for a reason, you’re here for a reason. That’s what they preach a lot.”

Coach Jason Kidd likes the 24/7 full-blown motor Omoruyi plays with, and knows his fast and furious style of play will work to his advantage throughout the rest of his NBA career.

“He’s been like that in camp,” Kidd said. “I talked about the young guys having been really, really positive on the floor, and their energy and efforts have been high.

“Today with Eugene, he’s been doing that in practice, so it was good to see. A good carryover.”

Indeed it was a good carryover for Omoruyi, who signed a two-way contract with the Mavs on Aug. 13 and likely will spend the lion’s share of his time this season playing for the G League’s Texas Legends. But he could also get some time with the Mavs, too.

Basketball is business for Omoruyi“I just go hard and do what I do,” the 6-6, 235-pound Omoruyi said. “Stick to my game, and that’s really come out here and compete, and I feel like I showcased that.

“It’s basketball, at the end of the day. It’s a higher level, but we’ve been practicing and I’m used to the guys now and I’m used to the different reads.”

Omoruyi said his confidence comes from: “Just me being an older guy and me going through the ropes and me coming in here wanting to learn. I just want to learn more every day from the vets and the coaches, and that’s big for me. Like I said, there’s no better confidence than self-confidence.”

The Mavs started paying extra attention to Omoruyi when he averaged 14.8 points and 5.3 rebounds and shot 55.3 percent from the field while bringing an added layer of physicality during summer league action in Las Vegas approximately two months ago.

“We learned different reads, different plays, and I feel like it translated to training camp and it’s really helped me just build my self-confidence to come out here and compete, and the coaches having my back,” Omoruyi said. “Me coming back for late night shots and me just wanting to compete and earn my spot on the team, that’s big for me.”

It also was big for Omoruyi that the crowd was very much into Sunday’s scrimmage.

“There was a lot of energy,” he said. “Me being the new guy especially, they really didn’t know who I was at first. But as soon as the game started, it started getting louder.

“I appreciate the fans for coming out. We do this for them, so it’s big.”

Twitter: @DwainPrice

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