Arnas Velicka

Several International Players Pull Out Of Draft

Sunday marks the deadline to withdraw from the NBA draft, and a handful of international players have reached their decisions. The date doesn’t affect college players because the NCAA set an Aug. 3 deadline for players to remove their names from the draft and retain their eligibility.

  • Lithuanian guard Arnas Velicka has decided to take his name out of the draft, tweets Nicola Lupo of Sportando. Velicka currently plays in France.
  • Belgian guard Joel Ekamba is skipping this year’s draft, a source tells Lupo. The 19-year-old also plays in France.
  • Brancou “Papi” Badio of Senegal has decided to withdraw, according to Lupo. The 21-year-old guard is playing his first season on the senior team for FC Barcelona.
  • Also removing his name from the draft is Greek guard Nikos Rogkavopoulos, Lupo adds. Rogkavopoulos is playing this season with AEK Athens.
  • Greek shooting guard Georgios Kalaitzakis is withdrawing, agent Marius Rutkauskas confirmed to Lithuanian basketball writer Donatas Urbonas (Twitter link). Kalaitzakis is ranked 90th on ESPN’s list of the top 100 prospects.
  • Lithuanian center Marek Blazevic is pulling out of the draft, sources tell Urbonas (Twitter link). He currently plays for  Zalgiris Kaunas of the Lithuanian Basketball League.
  • Deciding to remain in the draft is Adrian Bogucki, a 20-year-old center from Poland, according to Lupo. The 7’1″ Bogucki is playing in Poland and has been part of the U16, U18 and U20 Polish national teams.

Draft Notes: Ado, Hart, Velicka, Mouaha

Following the first round of the NFL’s first ever virtual draft on Thursday, we have a better idea of what that “virtual draft” actually looks like. Which means, as Zach Harper of The Athletic writes, the NBA can evaluate what works and what doesn’t as the league prepares for the possibility that it will have to conduct its 2020 draft in a similar manner.

Harper pointed to Dr. Anthony Fauci’s appearance on the telecast and the presence of prospects’ family members and pets as things that worked, but wasn’t a fan of the national anthem to start the night, commissioner Roger Goodell’s wooden delivery, and the looping videos of fans on a screen behind Goodell.

As we wait to see what exactly the 2020 NBA draft will look like, here are a few updates on players entering the draft pool:

  • Mississippi State center Abdul Ado has entered the 2020 draft, as Joel Coleman of The Starkville Daily News writes. Ado, who averaged 5.7 PPG, 6.7 RPG, and 1.9 BPG as a junior this past season, will be maintaining his college eligibility during the process and will likely end up returning for his senior year in 2020/21 after getting feedback from NBA evaluators, a source tells Coleman.
  • Fresno State freshman guard Niven Hart has announced (via Twitter) that he’ll be testing the draft waters following a 2019/20 season in which he averaged 8.7 PPG with a .398 3PT% in 26 games off the bench for the Bulldogs.
  • Lithuanian point guard Arnas Velicka, who tested the draft waters a year ago, has entered the 2020 draft, as reported by David Hein and confirmed by ESPN’s Jonathan Givony (Twitter links). Velicka, who spent the 2019/20 season on loan to CBet Prienai from Zalgiris Kaunas, has been a standout for Lithuania’s junior national teams in FIBA competitions, Givony notes.
  • Cameroonian guard Aristide Mouaha has declared for the draft, agent Mario Scotti announced on Twitter (hat tip to Sportando). The 19-year-old played this past season for the Roseto Sharks in Italy’s Serie A2 league.

Draft Updates: Matthews, Bol, Porter, Withdrawals

Former Michigan guard Charles Matthews suffered some bad luck with the 2019 NBA draft right around the corner, as agent Adam Pensack tells Jonathan Givony of ESPN.com that his client has a torn ACL. The injury occurred during a workout with the Celtics, Givony adds.

Matthews, who had been ranked as the No. 60 prospect on ESPN’s big board and was receiving second-round interest, will head to his hometown of Chicago to undergo surgery to repair the ACL. He hasn’t given up hope of being selected in next week’s draft.

“Injuries are tough, but Charles is an extremely hard worker and will be back stronger than ever,” Pensack told Givony. “He had a series of outstanding workouts lately and has helped himself. Charles will continue that momentum when he returns to action. As of now, we have interest in the second round as Charles is OK signing a two-way contract like Edmond Sumner did with the Indiana Pacers in 2017.”

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

  • Bol Bol, who is recovering from a foot fracture, will hold an invite-only workout for select teams on Wednesday, according to Jeremy Woo and Jake Fischer of SI.com (Twitter link). Bol is one of the biggest wild cards in the draft for health-related reasons, so Wednesday’s session could have a major impact on where he’s selected.
  • Kevin Porter Jr., a probable first-round pick, has worked out for the Nets, Spurs, and Hornets, and has sessions lined up with the Magic and Hawks, tweets Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer. Porter’s previously-reported upcoming workouts with the Heat and Wizards will take place on June 13 and June 17, respectively (Twitter links via Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald and Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington).
  • With Monday’s withdrawal deadline looming, several international early entrants are pulling their names out of the 2019 draft pool. According to reports from Givony and Lithuanian journalist Donatas Urbonas (all four Twitter links), the following players are withdrawing: Nikita Mikhailovskii (Russia), Arturs Zagars (Latvia), Henri Drell (France), Tadas Sedekerskis (Lithuania), Gytis Masiulis (Lithuania), and Arnas Velicka (Lithuania).
  • Lithuanian early entrants Deividas Sirvydis and Matas Jogela intend to remain in the draft pool, sources tell Urbonas (Twitter link). According to Givony (all Twitter links), Sekou Doumbouya (France), Goga Bitadze (Georgia), Luka Samanic (Croatia), Adam Mokoka (France), and Marcos Louzada Silva (Brazil) will also stay in the draft.

Draft Notes: Fernando, Cowan Jr., McDowell-White, Shuler

Maryland sophomore forward Bruno Fernando intends to declare for the draft, according to a school press release. Fernando averaged a double-double this season at 13.6 PPG and 10.6 RPG. He’s ranked No. 34 on ESPN’s Jonathan Givony’s latest Top 100 prospects list. Terrapins junior guard Anthony Cowan Jr. will do the same and both will sign with agents, who will work with the Maryland coaching staff throughout the process. Cowan Jr. averaged 15.6 PPG and 4.4 APG during his junior year.

We have more draft news:

  • Australian point guard William McDowell-White has submitted paperwork to make himself eligible for the draft, Givony reports. McDowell-White previously made Givony’s Top 100 list but he suffered a foot injury in November while playing in Germany and missed an extensive amount of time. McDowell-White will travel to the U.S. at the beginning of next month for workouts, Givony adds. He declared for the 2018 draft before withdrawing.
  • Ole Miss guard Devontae Shuler will test the draft waters, according to a tweet from the school’s media relations department. Shuler, who is not ranked in Givony’s Top 100, averaged 1o.3 PPG during his sophomore season.
  • Lithuanian point guard Arnas Velicka intends to declare for the draft, according to a Sportando report. Velicka averaged 19.2 PPG and 5.6 APG in the Estonian-Latvian Basketball League with Tartu Ulikool Rock.
  • Indiana guard Devonte Green intends to declare for the draft but isn’t sure if he’ll hire an agent, Ben Stinar of Amico Hoops tweets. Green averaged 9.4 PPG and 3.0 APG as a junior.
  • Little Rock guard Rayjon Tucker will also dip his toes into the draft pool, Evan Daniels of 247 Sports tweets. Tucker averaged 20.3 PPG in his junior year and is looking at a variety of transfer options.