Blake Francis

Draft Notes: Combine, Haliburton, Francis, Figueroa

If not for the coronavirus pandemic, the NBA’s draft combine would have taken place last week in Chicago, with dozens of this year’s top prospects congregating for workouts, scrimmages, interviews, and medical tests. Instead, that event has been indefinitely postponed, and it’s unclear what form it will eventually take — if it happens at all.

According to Marc Berman of The New York Post, league sources still believe there’s a good chance that a “downsized” combine that includes live interviews could take place in August or September. One report earlier in May suggested that such an event might be held within the NBA’s “bubble” location – possibly Walt Disney World – rather than Chicago, though that’s still speculative at this point.

Of course, before the NBA can even line up tentative plans for a combine, it will need to formally postpone the draft, which is still scheduled for June 25. According to Marc Stein of The New York Times (Twitter link), some teams expect the draft to be delayed until September, with free agency potentially starting around October 1.

Here’s more on the 2020 NBA draft:

  • Within his above-linked piece, Berman notes that Iowa State head coach Steve Prohm believes potential top-10 pick Tyrese Haliburton would benefit from being able to interview in person with NBA teams. “On Zoom, you can only impress so much,” Prohm said. “If he was in person, over dinner, or in the facility or ballroom at the combine, he’d knock it out of the park. His spirit and personality will wow people. He’ll move up on the charts on that alone. … His character and maturity is very high.”
  • Richmond guard Blake Francis, who tested the draft waters following his junior year, has decided to withdraw and return to school for one more season, he tells Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports (Twitter link). Francis is the third Richmond early entrant to withdraw from the draft pool, joining teammates Jacob Gilyard and Grant Golden.
  • St. John’s guard LJ Figueroa has entered the NCAA’s transfer portal, a source tells Evan Daniels of 247Sports (Twitter link). Figueroa, who declared for the draft in the spring, will continue testing the waters as he explores his transfer options, tweets Rothstein.

Draft Decisions: S. Lewis, Armstrong, Camper, Santos-Silva, More

Florida freshman shooting guard Scottie Lewis had been considered a strong candidate to be drafted this spring, ranking 38th overall on ESPN’s big board. However, Lewis has opted not to declare for the draft, as he confirms to Jeff Goodman of Stadium.

“I was so stuck on going to the NBA when I got home, but then I thought long and hard about it and with all the uncertainty about the draft process, and if there will even be a combine and team workouts, I felt like it was the right move to go back to school,” Lewis told Stadium.

As Goodman details, Lewis got feedback from the NBA’s advisory committee, and while he was confident he’d be selected if he entered, he received a wide range of opinions on when exactly he might come off the board. With few opportunities during this year’s pre-draft process to boost his stock, Lewis has opted to play at least one more college season in the hopes of showing individual improvement and enjoying more team success.

“There’s so much more I think I can show, that we can show as a team,” Lewis said. “I want to leave a legacy at Florida. … I’m an optimistic person and no matter where I get drafted, I’m going to work my butt off. But with all this uncertainty, it was best for me to play it safe and put myself in a better position a year from now.”

Although Lewis isn’t entering his name in the 2020 NBA draft pool, several NCAA underclassmen are doing so. In addition to Kentucky guards Tyrese Maxey and Ashton Hagans, whose decisions we covered earlier today, here are some of the recent prospects who will at least test the draft waters: