“It’s the quiet ones you’ve gotta watch out for!”
I know that’s not just a Midwest phrase… everyone’s heard it before, either about themselves or others, in reference to those with a more low key demeanor. But watch out for what exactly? Mischief? Them spontaneously combusting?
It’s one of those silly phrases that’s lingered around our vernacular that you kind of forget about, until maybe you meet or come to know someone who’s truly a “quiet” person. It came back to me when reflecting on getting to know Aaron Epps through this past season in the NBA G League bubble in Orlando.
Epps is a reserved, soft-spoken guy. So soft spoken and with a Louisiana accent that I often had to ask him to repeat himself when I’d be the one asking the question. It’s pretty hard for a 6’10” guy to sneak up on you… but one minute I’d be setting up the meeting room and the next, turn around to see Aaron sitting in a spot, 10 minutes early.
On the court, Epps of course let his game do the talking. A stretch 4-5 who likes to shoot it from beyond the arc, Aaron averaged 10.2 points and 6.5 rebounds on 49.3% FGs and 39.7 3FGs last season with the NAZ Suns. He was acquired to play the 4 alongside NBA-ready centers Norvel Pelle and Marques Bolden, providing a Dean Wade/Kevin Love-like, inside/outside option for the Charge.
But when Pelle was called up before the team even got to Orlando and Bolden was dealing with some back issues, Epps was called on to play the 5. A very quiet, but still very enthusiastic “No problem!” from Aaron.
“I thought Aaron did a pretty good job of plugging the hole in the middle whenever he was called upon,” said the Voice of the Charge, Scott Zurilla. “He’s better suited at the stretch 4 due to his ability to shoot it and spread the floor, but I thought he really stepped up and battled bigger, stronger centers the best he could.”
After having to change his wiring from stretch 4 shooter to staunch 5 center, Epps started to find his groove in the second game. Aaron posted 8 points and seven boards over 16 minutes in the win over Greensboro. The next game, his shooting touch took over as he hit 4-of-9 threes in an 18-point, four rebound effort in the loss.
He was giving a little bit of everything to try and help his shorthanded team, without a peep.
“Epps had to shoulder a big burden for us as our lone big for a while and helped us as a guy that could play inside & out,” said Charge General Manager Brendon Yu. “His ability to block a shot on one end and then pick and pop for a 3 on the other was a great skillset to have.”
When Pelle rejoined the team and Marques was healthy, Aaron went back to his usual role with no questions asked. When the Charge tried out different lineups over a four-game stretch where Epps was a DNP, not a word. Only grunts from his work ethic of going that much harder in practice.
In the age of every single thing being recorded & blasted out for all to see in hear, it’s refreshing to see a guy with a head down, lunch pail-grabbing demeanor. Someone who is there to get the job done, and done well, with nothing more than a smile on their face has an invaluable skill.
Having a teammate like that at the highest level of basketball is something that any franchise would find appealing.
“Whether starting or coming off the bench, I thought he provided some energy and did a nice job for the Charge,” said the Z Man.
“A truly great teammate and consummate pro who you could count on,” commented Yu.
Now THAT speaks volumes.