Aamir Simms

Central Notes: Bulls, Pistons, Pacers Workouts

After the Bulls mortgaged their long-term future to nab 2021 All-Star center Nikola Vučević in a deadline deal with the Magic, they still missed out on a play-in tournament appearance. The club is understandably anticipated to be seeking roster upgrades this summer, especially at the point guard position, writes Matt Moore of the Action Network.

Moore suggests that free agent point guards Kyle Lowry, Dennis Schröder, Lonzo Ball, and Spencer Dinwiddie are among Chicago’s preferred targets. Given the ages of the Bulls’ two best players – 30-year-old Vučević and 25-year-old All-Star Zach LaVine – 35-year-old veteran Lowry may not be a long-term fit, but would certainly raise the team’s floor for the 2021/22 season.

There’s more out of the Central Division:

  • The Pistons will get to choose from a handful of highly-touted NBA prospects with the top selection of the 2021 draft. Where Detroit opts to go in the second round of the draft is less clear. In a new piece, James L. Edwards III of The Athletic examines several possible draft-and-stash prospects the Pistons could pursue in the second round. Detroit has the Nos. 37, 42 and 52 picks in the second round. Edwards examines the fits of several draft candidates, including Zalgiris Kaunas guard Rokas Jokubaitis, Minas wing Guilherme Santos, Paris Basketball guard Juhann Begarin, and Antwerp Giants forward Vrenz Bleijenbergh.
  • Among 2020/21 season holdovers, the Pistons will face some interesting roster decisions in the summer, writes Keith Langlois of Pistons.com. Langlois notes that restricted free agents Hamidou Diallo and Frank Jackson, forward Josh Jackson, deep-bench center Jahlil Okafor, 2019 draft selections Sekou Doumbouya and Deividas Sirvydis, and guard Tyler Cook all could move on during the offseason.
  • The Pacers are set to hold their sixth round of pre-draft workouts Tuesday, per a team press release. The club possesses the No. 13 pick in the 2021 draft, as well as the No. 54 and No. 60 picks in the second round. Indiana will work out Kansas guard Marcus Garrett, South Carolina guard A.J. Lawson, Alabama guard John Petty Jr., Tennessee forward Yves Pons, Mississippi State guard D.J. Stewart Jr., and Clemson forward Aamir Simms.

NBA G League Announces 40 Draft-Eligible Participants For Elite Camp

The NBA G League has announced in a press release that 40 draft-eligible prospects are set to participate in the NBAGL Elite Camp next week in Chicago from June 19-21.

The G League Elite Camp is back this year after being canceled in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. The event, which takes place right before the draft combine, will give a few dozen draft-eligible players an opportunity to impress scouts, coaches, and executives through strength and agility drills and 5-on-5 games.

As today’s announcement confirms, a select number of draft-eligible prospects participating in the G League Elite Camp will also be invited to attend the combine itself, which is scheduled for June 21-27 in Chicago.

The list of draft-eligible players who took part in the most recent G League Elite Camp in 2019 included a handful of prospects who were eventually drafted, such as Terance Mann, Cody Martin, Justin Wright-Foreman, Reggie Perry, and Dewan Hernandez.

Many of the draft-eligible participants in the 2019 Elite Camp also made it to the NBA after going undrafted, including Oshae Brissett, Chris Clemons, Tyler Cook, Tacko Fall, DaQuan Jeffries, Caleb Martin, Justin Robinson, and Max Strus.

Two years ago, this event also featured 40 G League veterans, for a total of 80 players. Based on today’s press release, it sounds like this year’s Elite Camp may be pared down to only include draft-eligible prospects, though it’s possible the NBAGL will announce more names within the next few days.

Here are the 40 draft-eligible prospects participating in the 2021 G League Elite Camp:

  1. Derrick Alston Jr. (Boise State)
  2. Keve Aluma (Virginia Tech)
  3. Jose Alvarado (Georgia Tech)
  4. Juhann Begarin (France)
  5. Chaundee Brown (Michigan)
  6. Jordan Burns (Colgate)
  7. Marcus Carr (Minnesota)
  8. D.J. Carton (Marquette)
  9. Moussa Cisse (Memphis)
  10. Kofi Cockburn (Illinois)
  11. Oscar Da Silva (Stanford)
  12. Darius Days (LSU)
  13. Hunter Dickinson (Michigan)
  14. Dawson Garcia (Marquette)
  15. Marcus Garrett (Kansas)
  16. Haowen Guo (China)
  17. Jay Huff (Virginia)
  18. DeJon Jarreau (Houston)
  19. Carlik Jones (Louisville)
  20. DeVante’ Jones (Coastal Carolina)
  21. Balsa Koprivica (Florida State)
  22. A.J. Lawson (South Carolina)
  23. E.J. Liddell (Ohio State)
  24. Mac McClung (Texas Tech)
  25. JaQuori McLaughlin (UCSB)
  26. Matt Mitchell (San Diego State)
  27. RJ Nembhard (TCU)
  28. Eugene Omoruyi (Oregon)
  29. EJ Onu (Shawnee State)
  30. Scotty Pippen Jr. (Vanderbilt)
  31. Orlando Robinson (Fresno State)
  32. Aamir Simms (Clemson)
  33. Javonte Smart (LSU)
  34. Mike Smith (Michigan)
  35. D.J. Stewart (Mississippi State)
  36. MaCio Teague (Baylor)
  37. M.J. Walker (Florida State)
  38. Duane Washington (Ohio State)
  39. Aaron Wiggins (Maryland)
  40. Jalen Wilson (Kansas)

Three Early Entrants Withdrawing From NBA Draft

The list of early entrants for the 2020 NBA draft continues to slowly thin out. According to a series of reports from Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports, three more players are removing their names from this year’s draft pool and returning to school for one more season.

Clemson forward Aamir Simms has informed Rothstein (Twitter link) that he’s withdrawing from the draft after testing the waters. Simms enjoyed a breakout junior year for the Tigers in 2019/20, averaging 13.0 PPG, 7.2 RPG, and 2.6 APG with a .474/.400/.705 shooting line in 30 games (31.6 MPG). He’ll return to Clemson for his senior season.

A source tells Rothstein (Twitter link) that Vermont guard Stef Smith is also heading back to school for his senior year rather than remaining in the draft. Smith was the Catamounts’ second-leading scorer as a junior, with 14.2 PPG and an impressive .423 3PT% in 33 games (28.4 MPG).

Finally, Nicholls State guard Andre Jones is withdrawing from the draft after testing the waters, he tells Rothstein (Twitter link). Jones, who transferred after two years at Little Rock, averaged 12.3 PPG and 2.8 APG on .513/.313/.732 shooting in 30 games (24.3 MPG) as a junior at Nicholls State.

None of Simms, Smith, or Jones showed up in ESPN’s list of the top 100 prospects in the 2020 draft class, so their decisions to pull out and return to school don’t come as a major surprise.

Draft Decisions: Alston, Mizzou, Diarra, French, More

Boise State forward Derrick Alston Jr. has entered his name in the 2020 NBA draft pool, he announced on Twitter. He’ll leave the door open for a possible return to school for his senior season.

Alston, who comes in at No. 98 on ESPN’s big board of 2020 draft prospects, averaged 17.3 PPG, 5.2 RPG, and 3.1 APG in 32 games (33.0 MPG) in 2019/20. His three-point shooting fell off as his volume increased, dipping from 38.4% as a sophomore to 33.5% as a junior.

Alston’s father, Derrick Alston Sr., is a former NBA player who is currently the head coach of the Westchester Knicks, New York’s G League affiliate.

Here are more early entrant draft decisions from across the NCAA:

  • Three Missouri players – sophomore guard Xavier Pinson and junior forwards Mitchell Smith and Jeremiah Tilmon – will test the draft waters, according to a press release from the school. All three played part-time roles for the Tigers in 2019/20, with Pinson averaging 11.1 PPG, good for second-best on the roster.
  • Jeff Goodman of Stadium reports a pair of early entries, tweeting that Eastern Kentucky sophomore guard Jomaru Brown and Vermont junior guard Stef Smith are declaring. A source expects Smith to return to school, Goodman notes.
  • According to Goodman (via Twitter), Kansas State junior guard Cartier Diarra is testing the draft waters. If he decides to withdraw, he’ll transfer to Virginia Tech.
  • Saint Louis junior forward Hasahn French and junior guard Jordan Goodwin are testing the draft waters, according to the school. Goodwin was Saint Louis’ leading scorer with 15.5 PPG, while French chipped in 12.4 PPG. Both players averaged double-doubles, with an impressive 10.4 RPG apiece.
  • Isiaha Mike (SMU), Nate Pierre-Louis (Temple), Paul Atkinson Jr. (Yale), and Aamir Simms (Clemson) each announced on their personal Twitter accounts that they’re entering the draft while maintaining their NCAA eligibility.