Blake Wesley

Wolves Notes: Connelly, KAT, Draft, Russell, A. Williams

If it were up to president of basketball operations Tim Connelly, Karl-Anthony Towns would remain with the Timberwolves for his entire career. Towns is eligible for a super-max extension this summer after being selected to the All-NBA Third Team.

I hope he’s here forever. I hope we have the type of team success that would allow us to look up and see Karl’s jersey being hung up in the rafters,” Connelly said in a Q&A session with Chris Hine of The Star Tribune. “I reached out to a bunch of these guys, but I don’t want to force relationships. You have to develop those things naturally. So, I’ve heard so many great things about him. I know how great a player he is on the court, but off the court it’s been so consistent, just an unbelievably sweet guy that treats everyone in a really classy manner.

“I think he’s been through so much, so many different faces and different chairs, from the front office to the coaching staff. So I think with continuity with Finchy (head coach Chris Finch), you’re going to see a better version of Karl and he’s already a great player.”

Connelly conceded that the team’s potential first-round pick (19th overall) likely won’t have a significant role on the team next year, but he believes the Wolves can find a good long-term fit with the selection.

We’ll beat up all the different possibilities pretty good. We’re also very content and pretty excited about if we’re going to get a good player at 19,” he said. “It’s going to be hard for any player we draft to have a huge role with the team that just had the success they had. We’re not drafting for June 24, we’re drafting for, hopefully, to add a person that can be a part of sustained success and a person who can grow into a role. I think things are on the table, but we do feel pretty convinced that 19 is going to yield a good player.”

It’s an interesting interview from Hine for any Wolves fans looking for insight into Connelly’s approach.

Here’s more on the Wolves:

  • Amid rumors that Minnesota is exploring the trade market for veteran centers, including Clint Capela, Michael Rand of The Star Tribune wonders if one of the team’s biggest offseason moves might be a position change for Towns. Rand notes that sliding Towns down to the power forward spot would improve the Wolves’ rebounding woes, and he’d likely feast on smaller players in the post, but there are some possible drawbacks. Towns is quicker than most centers, so he might lose the ability to pump-fake and drive past slower-footed defenders, and it would take him time to adjust defensively. Ultimately, Rand believes utilizing a bigger lineup could work in certain matchups.
  • Jon Krawczynski and Sam Vecenie of The Athletic discuss Minnesota’s draft possibilities for the 19th and 40th picks (the Wolves also control the 48th and 50th picks). Vecenie doesn’t love the team’s options for the first-rounder and believes trading out in order to acquire additional first-round selections makes sense, but if the Wolves keep the pick, he thinks Blake Wesley or E.J. Liddell could be decent options. Wesley, a guard from Notre Dame, is ranked 22nd on ESPN’s big board, while Liddell, a forward from Ohio State, is ranked 21st. Vecenie says there are a number of “interesting, high-upside” prospects who could be available with the 40th pick, including Peyton Watson, Josh Minott and Kendall Brown, among others.
  • The Wolves haven’t come close to trading D’Angelo Russell “or any other player,” sources tell Krawczynski in another story for The Athletic. However, Krawczynski says trade talks are expected to heat up “the closer it gets to the draft,” which is tomorrow, and the fate of Russell and other possible trade candidates should become clearer once it concludes.
  • Alondes Williams worked out for the Wolves on Tuesday, reports Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News (via Twitter). The 6’5″ guard averaged 18.5 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 5.2 APG and 1.2 SPG on .507/.282/.691 shooting as a junior for Wake Forest. He’s ranked 59th on ESPN’s board, so he could be a possibility for one of the team’s second-round picks.

Northwest Notes: Terry, Jazz Coaching Search, Wesley, Daniels, OKC

Jason Terry was among the first candidates to interview for the head coaching vacancy with the Jazz last weekend, and he tells Brandon “Scoop B” Robinson he was happy with the results (Twitter link). Terry says his extensive track record at several levels of basketball should give him an advantage.

“When you talk about mentoring, teaching and player development, I’d like to say my skills speak for themselves,” he said. “I have a vast amount of experience at all levels — college, pro, G League, management, playing obviously 19 years, so with that said alone, I feel like I’m a good man for the job.”

Fifteen potential candidates have been linked to Utah since Quin Snyder stepped down earlier this month. Terry, who interviewed with CEO Danny Ainge and general manager Justin Zanik, said it would be a pleasure to work for such a well-run franchise.

“Their organization has been first class since I’ve known it, for the 19 years I played and after,” Terry said. “I can tell they’re headed in the right direction. They’ve got a great core nucleus of guys and talent that speaks for itself. They’ve been the class of the Western Conference, though they haven’t won a championship yet or been to the NBA Finals. I just think they’re the right voice away.”

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • Kenny Atkinson’s change of heart regarding the Hornets means the Jazz no longer have the advantage of being the only team conducting a coaching search, writes Ryan McDonald of The Deseret News. Terry Stotts, one of the finalists for the job in Charlotte, is also reportedly a candidate in Utah, and McDonald wonders if anyone else the Jazz are considering will emerge as a possibility for the Hornets. He also speculates that owner Michael Jordan could consider hiring Snyder, who has connections to North Carolina.
  • As one of the best ball-handlers in the draft, Notre Dame guard Blake Wesley could be an option for the Nuggets with the 21st pick, per Ron Gutterman of NBA.com. Wesley also possesses a high basketball IQ and would immediately become one of the best defenders in Denver’s backcourt, Gutterman adds.
  • In an interview with ESPN Australia (video link), Dyson Daniels says the Thunder were his favorite team and Russell Westbrook was his favorite player when he was younger. Oklahoma City holds the No. 2 and No. 12 picks in Thursday’s lottery, but Daniels is likely to be selected in between that range.
  • Silvio De Sousa, formerly of Kansas and Tennessee-Chattanooga, had a Thursday workout with the Thunder, tweets Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman. Marcus Weathers will work out for OKC on Monday (Twitter link).

Draft Notes: Banchero, Wesley, Williams, Mock

Duke’s Paolo Banchero is projected by most mock drafts to be selected by the Rockets with the No. 3 pick. Banchero believes that’s two slots too low, USA Today’s David Thompson writes.

“I feel like I am the best player in the draft and I feel like I showed that throughout the year,” he said. “I feel like I showed everything with my skill sets and my intangibles.”

However, he wouldn’t be disappointed if he ends up playing with Jalen Green and Kevin Porter Jr in Houston.

“Those are two extremely skilled, extremely talented players,” Banchero said. “Both guys I’ve known for a while. I feel like playing with them would be fun.”

We have more draft-related info:

  • Notre Dame’s Blake Wesley is the latest player to get a green room invite, Jonathan Givony of ESPN tweets. He’s currently ranked No. 27 on ESPN’s Best Available list. There are now 22 players with green room invitations.
  • Jalen Williams has worked out for the Clippers, Warriors, Nuggets, Grizzlies, Bucks, Thunder and Spurs, Jason Anderson of the Sacramento Bee tweets. ESPN ranks the Santa Clara guard at No. 21. Williams will soon visit the Cavaliers, Anderson adds.
  • In Basketball News’ Matt Babcock’s latest mock draft, Williams winds up with the Grizzlies at No. 22. Jabari Smith is the Magic‘s pick at No. 1.

Draft Notes: Wesley, Sotto, Rockets, Timberwolves

Notre Dame shooting guard Blake Wesley has upcoming workouts scheduled with the Grizzlies, Heat and Bulls, Josh Robbins of The Athletic tweets. Wesley told Robbins he had already worked out for the Spurs, Cavaliers, Bucks and Pistons.

A potential first-round selection, the 6’5” Wesley is ranked No. 27 overall on ESPN’s Best Available list.

We have more draft-related news:

  • International center prospect Kai Sotto will return to NBA team workouts this week on the West Coast after nursing a sprained ankle, Adam Zagoria of ZagsBlog.com tweets. He already worked out for the Knicks, Magic and Hawks, among others. The 7’3” big man from the Philippines spent last season in Australia’s National Basketball League, averaging 7.5 PPG and 4.5 RPG for the Adelaide 36ers.
  • The Rockets are sitting at the No. 3 spot and will presumably take the remaining big man in the trio of Jabari Smith, Chet Holmgren and Paolo Banchero, unless there’s a draft-day surprise. The Houston Chronicle’s Jonathan Feigen picks the brains of some NBA executives and a college coach to get a handle on how the trio’s skills will translate to the NBA.
  • The Timberwolves brought in six prospects on Monday, Andrew Slater tweets. That group included Tyson Etienne (Wichita State), Jermaine Samuels (Villanova), Aminu Mohammed (Georgetown,) Justin Lewis (Marquette), Fanbo Zeng (G League Ignite) and Kalob Ledoux (Louisiana Tech).

Southeast Notes: Wizards, Magic, Williams, Heat, Hawks

The Wizards are scheduled to work out six draft-eligible players on Monday, according to Josh Robbins of The Athletic (Twitter link). Oklahoma’s Jordan Goldwire, Arkansas’ Chris Lykes, Kansas’ Remy Martin, Kansas State’s Mike McGuirl, Alabama’s Jaden Shackelford and Notre Dame’s Blake Wesley will attend the session.

As noted by Robbins, all six players are guards. The Wizards, who own the 10th and 54th overall picks in the draft, are coming off a season in which they finished with a 35-47 record, missing the playoffs.

Here are some other notes from the Southeast Division:

Hornets Notes: M. Williams, Sharpe, Wesley, Atkinson

The Hornets’ need for a defensive anchor in the middle makes Duke center Mark Williams an intriguing option in the draft, writes Roderick Boone of The Charlotte Observer. Williams, who worked out for Charlotte on Friday, believes he could fill a need if the team selects him with the 13th or 15th pick.

“I feel like I’d bring that immediate rim protection,” Williams said, “that guy that can run the floor, be that lob threat on the offensive end, and also be somebody that plays hard every night and ultimately just wants to win.”

There’s a danger that Williams could move out of Charlotte’s range. His draft stock has been rising since last month’s combine when measurements showed that he had the longest reach and wingspan and ranked second in height among the participants.

No matter where he lands, Williams, who was a finalist for Naismith Defensive Player of the Year honors, sees himself in a role similar to what Robert Williams does for the Celtics.

“Obviously, he’s battling injury right now,” Mark Williams said. “But that’s a guy who plays defense, catches lobs, runs the floor, does a little bit of everything for them.”

There’s more from Charlotte:

  • Also conducting a solo workout for the Hornets on Friday was Kentucky’s Shaedon Sharpe, Boone adds in the same piece. Sharpe may be taken in the top half of the lottery, but he acknowledged that some teams are uncertain about him because he didn’t play in college. “Most of the questions that teams got is how will I come out and play,” Sharpe said. “I’ve haven’t played in about a year, but for me I feel like that’s really not any big deal because as a basketball player once you start playing and getting back into the flow, it (doesn’t) really matter. Just keep playing.”
  • The workout that Notre Dame guard Blake Wesley had with Charlotte today is his third so far, tweets James Boyd of The Indianapolis Star. Wesley also had sessions with the Hawks and Nuggets.
  • New head coach Kenny Atkinson has a reputation for developing young talent, but his success will be determined by the progress of LaMelo Ball and his ability to improve the Hornets’ defense, contends Scott Fowler of The Raleigh News & Observer.

Eastern Notes: Celtics, Bulls, Gobert, Cavaliers, Hornets

The Celtics struggled in Game 4 of the NBA Finals largely due to their stagnant offense, Jay King of The Athletic writes. Boston lost the game 107-97, shooting 40% from the floor with 15 turnovers. While Boston is an all-time great defensive team, it certainly shouldn’t be viewed in the same light offensively.

“We just have to stay organized,” star forward Jaylen Brown said. “That’s on our veteran players to get us organized in those moments. At times, we get unorganized and kind of get on top of each other. The spacing kind of closes down. That’s where some of those turnovers come from. We have to do a better job.”

Boston’s offense improved this season when the team — particularly Marcus Smart and Jayson Tatum — committed to passing more. Tatum has continued that adjustment into the postseason, raising his assists per game from 4.4 to 6.2, while Smart has kept his average at a respectable 5.9.

The Celtics’ chances of winning the Finals may hinge on their ability to play in transition, keep the ball moving, and receive better play from Tatum. The 24-year-old finished with 23 points, 11 rebounds and six assists in Game 4, but he shot just 8-of-23 (35%) from the floor and recorded six turnovers on the night.

There’s more from Boston today:

  • Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times explores the Bulls‘ rumored interest in Jazz center Rudy Gobert. Chicago could make roster upgrades after losing in five games to Milwaukee during the first round, and Gobert may become available in trade talks. The Bulls ranked 23rd in defensive rating this season, although the team dealt with numerous injuries throughout the year.
  • In her latest mailbag, Kelsey Russo of The Athletic examines the chances of a Ricky Rubio reunion and considers other potential Cavaliers free agent targets. Rubio was highly effective before suffering a torn ACL, helping keep the Cavs in the playoff mix in the Eastern Conference.
  • The Hornets will work out six draft-eligible players on Saturday, the team announced on social media (Twitter link). Chattanooga’s Silvio De Sousa, Florida’s Anthony Duruji, the G League Ignite’s Jaden Hardy, Seton Hall’s Ike Obiagu, Notre Dame’s Blake Wesley and VCU’s Vince Williams will all work out for the club.

Draft Notes: Daniels, Pacers, Agbaji, Beauchamp, Wesley

G League Ignite guard/forward Dyson Daniels, who worked out for the Pacers on Friday, believes he’d be good fit alongside Tyrese Haliburton, writes James Boyd of The Indianapolis Star. Daniels is the sixth-best prospect on ESPN’s big board, and Indiana holds the No. 6 pick in the upcoming draft.

For me, this offseason has been a big focus on my shooting, being able to knock down the shot so I can play off the ball,” Daniels said. “I’m confident in my shot now, so I feel like playing here with a guy like Tyrese, who’s a very good passer as well, I can play off the ball, cut to spots and knock down the shot. That’s something that’s come a long way in my game, and it’s definitely something I’ve worked on because every team usually has a primary ball-handler.”

Known as a well-rounded player who’s a solid rebounder, cutter and passer, Daniels is considered one of the best perimeter defenders in the draft and he said he hoped he showcased that during his workout.

I think with my defense, you can see that on film and things like that, but coming here you play 1-on-1, you play 3-on-3, 2-on-2, so you can show that in the drills and stuff,” Daniels said, per Boyd. “Busting through screens, using your hands, getting deflections, things like that. … Showing that’s my main strength and showing that offensive stuff that I’ve worked on as well.”

Daniels has an upcoming workout with the Kings (No. 4), and previously worked out for the Pistons (No. 5) and Spurs (No. 9), as Boyd relays.

Here are a few more workout-related notes on some projected first-round picks:

  • Kansas wing Ochai Agbaji, the 16th overall prospect on ESPN’s board, has upcoming workouts with the Knicks (No. 11) and Hawks (No. 16). He previously worked out for the Thunder (No. 12), Cavaliers (No. 14) and Bulls (No. 18), according to Josh Robbins of The Athletic (Twitter link).
  • G League Ignite’s MarJon Beauchamp, another wing who ranks 23rd on ESPN’s board, has workouts scheduled with the Knicks, Pelicans (No. 8), Spurs (Nos. 9, 20 and 25), Hornets (Nos. 13 and 15) and Timberwolves (No. 19). He previously worked out for the Hawks, Bulls and Grizzlies (Nos. 22 and 29), tweets Robbins.
  • Notre Dame guard Blake Wesley worked out for the Hawks on Friday, Boyd reports (via Twitter). Wesley, who is No. 27 on ESPN’s board, had a previous workout with the Nuggets (No. 21).

Full List Of 2022 NBA Draft Combine Participants

The NBA has revealed its list of 76 players who have been invited – and who are expected to attend – next week’s draft combine in Chicago. The combine workouts will take place from May 18-20.

Over the course of the week, players will conduct interviews with NBA teams, participate in five-on-five games, and go through shooting, strength and agility drills.

While several of the prominent names at the top of the draft likely won’t participate in scrimmages, those top prospects are still expected to attend. That group includes Chet Holmgren, Jabari Smith, Paolo Banchero, and Jaden Ivey.

A handful of standout players from the G League Elite Camp could be invited to participate in the combine as well.

Here’s the full list of 76 names announced by the NBA today, in alphabetical order, per Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link):

  1. Ochai Agbaji, G/F, Kansas (senior)
  2. Patrick Baldwin Jr., F, Milwaukee (freshman)
  3. Paolo Banchero, F, Duke (freshman)
  4. Dominick Barlow, F, Overtime Elite (auto-eligible)
  5. MarJon Beauchamp, G/F, G League Ignite (auto-eligible)
  6. Hugo Besson, G, Australia (born 2001)
  7. Malaki Branham, G/F, Ohio State (freshman)
  8. Christian Braun, G, Kansas (junior)
  9. Kendall Brown, F, Baylor (freshman)
  10. John Butler Jr., F/C, Florida State (freshman)
  11. Julian Champagnie, G/F, St. John’s (junior)
  12. Kennedy Chandler, G, Tennessee (freshman)
  13. Max Christie, G, Michigan State (freshman)
  14. Kofi Cockburn, C, Illinois (junior)
  15. Dyson Daniels, G, G League Ignite (auto-eligible)
  16. Johnny Davis, G, Wisconsin (sophomore)
  17. JD Davison, G, Alabama (freshman)
  18. Moussa Diabate, F, Michigan (freshman)
  19. Ousmane Dieng, F, Australia (born 2003)
  20. Khalifa Diop, C, Spain (born 2002)
  21. Jalen Duren, C, Memphis (freshman)
  22. Tari Eason, F, LSU (sophomore)
  23. Keon Ellis, G, Alabama (senior)
  24. Michael Foster, F, G League Ignite (auto-eligible)
  25. Collin Gillespie, G, Villanova (super-senior)
  26. AJ Griffin, F, Duke (freshman)
  27. Jaden Hardy, G, G League Ignite (auto-eligible)
  28. Ron Harper Jr., F, Rutgers (senior)
  29. Chet Holmgren, C, Gonzaga (freshman)
  30. Harrison Ingram, F, Stanford (freshman)
  31. Jaden Ivey, G, Purdue (sophomore)
  32. Trayce Jackson-Davis, F, Indiana (junior)
  33. Nikola Jovic, F, Serbia (born 2003)
  34. Johnny Juzang, G, UCLA (junior)
  35. Ismael Kamagate, C, France (born 2001)
  36. Trevor Keels, G, Duke (freshman)
  37. Walker Kessler, F/C, Auburn (sophomore)
  38. Christian Koloko, C, Arizona (junior)
  39. Jake LaRavia, F, Wake Forest (junior)
  40. Justin Lewis, F, Marquette (sophomore)
  41. E.J. Liddell, F, Ohio State (junior)
  42. Bennedict Mathurin, G/F, Arizona (sophomore)
  43. Matthew Mayer, F, Baylor (senior)
  44. Bryce McGowens, G, Nebraska (freshman)
  45. Leonard Miller, F, Canada (born 2003)
  46. Josh Minott, F, Memphis (freshman)
  47. Aminu Mohammed, G/F, Georgetown (freshman)
  48. Iverson Molinar, G, Mississippi State (junior)
  49. Jean Montero, G, Overtime Elite (auto-eligible)
  50. Wendell Moore, F, Duke (junior)
  51. Keegan Murray, F, Iowa (sophomore)
  52. Andrew Nembhard, G, Gonzaga
  53. Scotty Pippen Jr., G, Vanderbilt (junior)
  54. Gabriele Procida, G/F, Italy (born 2002)
  55. Orlando Robinson, F/C, Fresno State (junior)
  56. David Roddy, F, Colorado State (junior)
  57. Ryan Rollins, G, Toledo (sophomore)
  58. Dereon Seabron, G, NC State (sophomore)
  59. Shaedon Sharpe, G, Kentucky (freshman)
  60. Jabari Smith, F, Auburn (freshman)
  61. Terquavion Smith, G, NC State (freshman)
  62. Jeremy Sochan, F, Baylor (freshman)
  63. Matteo Spagnolo, G, Italy (born 2003)
  64. Julian Strawther, G/F, Gonzaga (sophomore)
  65. Dalen Terry, G, Arizona (sophomore)
  66. Drew Timme, F, Gonzaga (junior)
  67. Jabari Walker, F, Colorado (sophomore)
  68. TyTy Washington Jr., G, Kentucky (freshman)
  69. Peyton Watson, G/F, UCLA (freshman)
  70. Blake Wesley, G, Notre Dame (freshman)
  71. Alondes Williams, G, Wake Forest (super-senior)
  72. Jalen Williams, G, Santa Clara (junior)
  73. Jaylin Williams, F/C, Arkansas (sophomore)
  74. Mark Williams, C, Duke (sophomore)
  75. Trevion Williams, F/C, Purdue (senior)
  76. Fanbo Zeng, F, G League Ignite (auto-eligible)

Notre Dame’s Blake Wesley Declares For NBA Draft

Notre Dame guard Blake Wesley won’t return to the Fighting Irish next season, telling Jonathan Givony of ESPN that he plans to enter the 2022 NBA draft and go pro.

A freshman in 2021/22, Wesley was named to the All-ACC Second Team after averaging 14.4 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 2.4 APG, and 1.3 SPG on .404/.303/.657 shooting in 35 games (29.3 MPG).

Wesley, who just turned 19 earlier this month, intrigues NBA teams due to his ability to beat defenders off the dribble, his finishing ability, his length, and his NBA-ready body, according to Givony, who has the 6’5″ guard ranked 20th overall on ESPN’s big board.

Wesley’s shooting percentages as a freshman weren’t especially impressive, but he could boost his stock if he shoots well in pre-draft workouts, Givony notes.

“I’m a tireless worker,” Wesley told ESPN. “I rise to the occasion. Having such a veteran team alongside me was really helpful. We exceeded everyone’s expectations. I’m a 6’5” point guard and there’s no else in the NBA draft like me. People tell me I play like Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. I study him a lot. I don’t know that people realize how well I can shoot the ball.”

In other early entrant news, Wake Forest senior forward/center Dallas Walton will test the draft waters, according to Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports (Twitter link). DePaul senior guard Javon Freeman-Liberty is also putting his name in the 2022 draft pool, he announced today (via Twitter).