Former ASU star watching, learning under legend

Arizona Sports News online

Jeff Ayres’ life is slowing down…and at the same time moving at the speed of sound.

The former Arizona State basketball star formerly known as Jeff Pendergraph has found a home both on and off the court for the San Antonio Spurs.

He’s now just one win away from an NBA championship.

Ayres says San Antonio’s long-term success has been built on trust, togetherness and teamwork.

“Everybody is cheering for everybody,” Ayres told’s Brad Cesmat in a phone interview Friday morning. “Everybody is for everybody. Nobody’s selfish. Nobody has an ego…it’s been like that because those guys have been here for so long.”

One of “those guys” is Tim Duncan, who many believe to be the greatest power forward of all-time and someone who has mentored Ayres since he signed a two-year contract with the Spurs last summer.

What’s the most important thing he’s taken from Duncan?

“Kinda just settle down,” he explained to Cesmat. “Don’t go out there and play like it’s college where you just play 150% and go super hard. He teaches me kinda just let things come to you…trust in yourself. Coach [Gregg Popovich] has you out there on the court for a reason. Trust in that. Your teammates believe in you.”

While his playing time has been minimal, he’s spending extra time on the practice court watching and learning from Duncan. He even said the future hall-of-famer is teaching him his patented bank shot which Ayres admitted “is going to take a little while to perfect.”

Ayres has also found stability off the court where his young family has been received with open arms by “The Alamo City” where the Spurs are king.

“If I could stay here as long as I can, I’d be happy.”

It’s looking like the happiness won’t be going away anytime soon after he adds a championship ring to what’s been quite a year for the former Sun Devil.

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