Anas Mahmoud

Draft Updates: Bamba, Jackson Jr., Sexton, Knox

Texas center Mo Bamba got high praise from the Suns after working out for the team Saturday, relays Scott Bordow of The Arizona Republic. Phoenix is very likely to take another center, Arizona’s DeAndre Ayton, with the top pick, but GM Ryan McDonough believes Bamba has a bright NBA future, comparing him with Defensive Player of the Year finalist Rudy Gobert.

“At 20 years old, I think he’s ahead of where Rudy was,” McDonough said. “Now Rudy has made tremendous strides over the last three or four years. I think the question for Mo will be, can he build out his body like Rudy has? But in terms of measurements, they’re similar and in terms of willingness and desire to anchor a defense and protect the rim, they’re similar. It’s a great comp for Mo.”

There’s more draft news to pass along:

  • Bamba is part of a series of top prospects the Suns are working out this week. Michigan State’s Jaren Jackson Jr. is in town today, the team announced on its website, following appearances by Ayton and Marvin Bagley III.
  • Bamba looks like the definition of a modern NBA center and could wind up being the best player in the draft, writes Jonathan Givony of ESPN. Bamba provides size, a draft combine record 7’10” wingspan, mobility and intelligence, Givony notes, but there are questions about his physical frame after putting on 30 pounds in three years and his uneven performance in college. “Although there’s no one I really pattern my game after, I am a firm believer in stealing stuff from other people,” Bamba said. “When I sat down with [ player development specialist Drew Hanlen], we watched a lot of Jo-Jo [Joel Embiid], we watched a lot of AD [Anthony Davis]. Guys who can step out and move their feet and create their own shot offensively as a 7-footer.”
  • Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert called Collin Sexton a “very interesting prospect” after getting an up-close look at the Alabama guard during a workout Saturday, relays Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com.
  • Kentucky’s Kevin Knox and Michigan State’s Miles Bridges worked out for the Knicks on Saturday, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post“I’m the second-youngest player in the draft this year, but that doesn’t mean anything,’’ said Knox, who is still 18. “It’s not an excuse. I’m in the NBA and I put my name in the draft for a reason — because I think I’m ready. My age has nothing to do with it.’’ Also participating in the workout were SMU’s Shake Milton, Miami’s Bruce Brown , Texas Tech’s Zhaire Smith and Kentucky’s Hamidou Diallo.
  • The Jazz are hosting six players for a session today, the team announced on Twitter. Attending will be Utah’s Justin Bibbins, Purdue’s Vince Edwards, Australia’s William McDowell-White, France’s Amine Noua, Marshall’s Ajdin Penava and Lincoln Memorial’s Emanuel Terry.
  • Duke’s Grayson Allen had to pull out of today’s workout with the Hawks after suffering a minor injury during warmups, tweets Michael Cunningham of The Journal-Constitution. Also at today’s session were Creighton’s Marcus Foster, Louisville’s Anas Mahmoud, Rhode Island’s E.C. Matthews, UNLV’s Brandon McCoy and Boston College’s Jerome Robinson.
  • The Hornets will host their sixth pre-draft workout Monday with Southeastern Louisiana’s Jordan Capps, Notre Dame’s Matt Farrell, Mercer’s Ria’n Holland, Xavier’s J.P. Macura, Illinois-Chicago’s Tai Odiase and Queens College’s Todd Winters scheduled to attend.

Draft Notes: B. Brown, Govan, Lakers, Bulls

Kansas State junior guard Barry Brown will be returning to the Wildcats for his senior year, he confirmed in an announcement today on Twitter.

“Although the process was more than enjoyable, I have decided to withdraw my name from the 2018 NBA Draft,” Brown wrote in a statement. “Thank you to everyone who supported me, and I am looking forward to finishing my senior season as a WILDCAT!”

Brown, who had workouts with the Lakers and Nets, averaged 15.9 PPG, 3.2 APG, 3.1 RPG, and 1.8 SPG for Kansas State in 2017/18. He’ll look to build on those numbers in his senior season before becoming draft-eligible again next spring.

Here are more draft-related notes and updates:

Draft Notes: Combine, Franks, Gates, Vick, Wiggins

Earlier today, we passed along the list of the 69 players expected to attend this month’s NBA draft combine in Chicago, as reported by Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports. In his latest Insider-only piece for ESPN.com, Jonathan Givony takes a closer look at that list, noting that it’s often predictive of which players will be drafted in June.

As Givony notes, Kansas’ Udoka Azubuike, Georgia’s Yante Maten, UCLA’s Jaylen Hands, and Maryland’s Bruno Fernando all received invites to the combine despite not being on ESPN’s list of this year’s top 100 prospects. That’s an indication that NBA teams are more bullish on those players than Givony, who says they’ll be added to his top 100 in the next update.

Meanwhile, Florida’s Jalen Hudson, St. John’s Shamorie Ponds, and Purdue’s Carsen Edwards are among the underclassmen in Givony’s top 100 who weren’t invited to the combine. Those players, along with a few other top-100 prospects, haven’t hired agents and can still withdraw their names from this year’s pool — not receiving an invite to the combine probably means they’re more likely to return to school.

Let’s round up a few more draft-related notes…

  • Following up on his analysis of the combine invitee list, Givony notes in a tweet that Robert Franks (Washington State), Kaiser Gates (Xavier), and Lagerald Vick (Kansas) are among the early entrants who have now hired agents and won’t be returning to school.
  • One intriguing combine invitee is Mitchell Robinson, who didn’t play college ball after being named a McDonald’s All-American. According to Liz Mullen of SportsBusiness Journal (Twitter link), Robinson has signed with veteran NBA agent Raymond Brothers, who says his new client is “easily a top-three talent.”
  • Junior forward Demajeo Wiggins, who averaged a double-double in 2017/18 (13.7 PPG, 10.1 RPG), will be returning to Bowling Green for his senior season, he tells ESPN’s Jeff Goodman (Twitter link). Wiggins had been testing the draft waters without an agent.
  • Pre-draft team workouts are underway, with the Lakers bringing in six prospects for a look on Thursday. According to Mike Bresnahan of Spectrum SportsNet (Twitter link), Sedrick Barefield (Utah), Hayden Dalton (Wyoming), Marcus Foster (Creighton), Deng Adel (Louisville), Anas Mahmoud (Louisville), and Ethan Happ (Wisconsin) earned a look from the Lakers.