When former Penn point guard Zack Rosen walked into his hotel room in Orlando, his teammate on the Philadelphia 76ers summer league team, Terrence Jennings, asked Rosen what he was doing there.
“My roommate just asked me if I was playing on the team,” Rosen told SNY.tv by phone with a chuckle.
“Yeah, I get that a lot,” Rosen told Jennings, the former Louisville standout.
Did Jennings think Rosen, a 6-foot-1 red-headed white guy, was a player or the team manager?
“He wasn’t sure,” said Rosen, a Colonia, N.J., native and former St. Benedict’s Prep and Penn star who has dealt with those misperceptions for most of his career.
And beyond his physical appearance, Rosen is a product of the Ivy League, just like Jeremy Lin, an Asian-American who played at Harvard.
Lin also got his start in summer league. He first appeared on the Dallas Mavericks’ summer league roster before later signing with the Golden State Warriors in July 2010.
After finally getting a chance with the Knicks, Lin served notice that Ivy League point guards could be effective in the NBA, and he touched off the worldwide phenomenon known as Linsanity.
Now Lin is reaping the benefits of free agency, having garnered a four-year offer from the Houston Rockets worth close to $29 million.
So, can Rosen follow Lin on that trajectory?
“I think it extends the eye test, so to speak, where there’ll be a second or third look because of the success that he had, ” Rosen said of Lin. “He kind of leads the way with what he’s done, and whatever he’s done can’t hurt.
“You gotta do it on our own, you gotta help yourself, but what he’s done, can’t hurt.”
Rosen finished his career at Penn as the program’s all-time leader in assists (588), games started (115) and minutes played (4,198), and ranked third in career points (1,723), behind Ernie Beck and Ugonna Onyekwe.
He went undrafted at the NBA Draft but now has a chance to impress the Sixers, who lack a true pass-first point guard despite featuring numerous talented shooting guards and wing players, including Moe Harkless, the No. 15 pick out of St. John’s.
“It’s a great opportunity and I’m thankful for it,” Rosen said.
Rosen said he’s “pretty much [looking to] just show everything that I can do and for two weeks or so…be a leader.”
After the Orlando Pro Summer League runs July 9-13, Rosen still might wind up with another team in the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas July 13-22
“There’s still a chance I might go to Vegas with somebody else,” said Rosen, who is repped by CAA’s Leon Rose.
If he doesn’t stick in the NBA, Rosen should have plenty of opportunities overseas.
For now, though, he’s imagining a possible future in the NBA, just like a certain other former Ivy League floor general.
“[It would be a] dream come true,” Rosen said, “a lifelong dream come true.”