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Draft Notes: Russell, Okafor, Staten

When asked why a team should select him on June 25th, D’Angelo Russell had a simple answer for reporters.  “I’m the best player in the draft,” Russell said, as Henry Green of FOX Sports Ohio writes. Russell is expected to be a top-five pick, and many analysts have him as the No. 3 prospect in the 2015 draft class.  Of course, it remains to be seen whether he can jump Jahlil Okafor and Karl Anthony-Towns for the top spot.  Here’s today’s draft news..

  • Okafor skipped the official draft combine, but he found himself in the Chicago area on Friday night and worked out at Quest Gym, as Marc Berman of the New York Post writes.  One of the big knocks on Okafor is his conditioning, but trainer Rick Lewis says that the big man has shed 12 points of fat and his conditioning is improving every day.  The trainer, who might be a tad biased, also tells Berman that the Duke offensive system didn’t allow Okafor to showcase everything he can do.
  • West Virginia guard Juwan Staten is working out for the Sixers on Monday and roughly half the league is expected to work him out before the draft, reports Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports (on Twitter).  Staten is currently not in the top 100 rankings done by Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress but he is the No. 79 overall player according to Chad Ford of (Insider subscription required).
  • An NBA scout told Adam Zagoria of (on Twitter) that LSU’s Jordan Mickey and Louisville’s Terry Rozier “really helped themselves” by playing 5-on-5 at the Combine.
  • Murray State guard Cameron Payne is finally getting the respect he deserves, Yannis Koutroupis of Basketball Insiders writes.  Payne also isn’t afraid to speak his mind.  Recently, an NBA exec asked him who shouldn’t be ranked ahead of him in this year’s class and he answered truthfully.  “Tyus Jones,” Payne said. “Just because he played on a great team. He had a lot of exposure through that team. He didn’t have to carry his team like I did, so I just felt I went through a lot of adversity and he had one of the best big men playing college basketball around him. He wasn’t a focal point.”  (Recently, Payne spoke with Hoops Rumors about a wide range of topics, including where he thinks he might land).

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