De'Anthony Melton

Draft Notes: Ponds, Heron, Spellman, Melton

After being passed over for the NBA Draft Combine, Shamorie Ponds of St. John’s is concentrating on team workouts to prove himself, writes Adam Zagoria of ZagsBlog. The sophomore guard put up a 21.6/5.0/4.7 line for the Red Storm this season, but wasn’t among the 69 players who received combine invitations.

“For sure, I was most definitely upset,” he said. “I feel I deserved it.”

Ponds worked out today for the Cavaliers and has held a session with the Nets. Cleveland GM Koby Altman spoke with all the participants after the workout, and Ponds said he received positive feedback. “[Altman] said he really likes my game a lot, he really enjoyed watching it,” Ponds added. “There was great energy after the workout.”

Ponds still has workouts remaining with the Jazz, Pistons and Lakers and wants to reschedule sessions with the Knicks and Hawks that he had to cancel because of final exams. He will use the results of those workouts to determine whether to remain in the draft, a decision that has to be made by May 30.

There are more draft-related notes to pass on:

Potential First-Rounder De’Anthony Melton Leaving USC

De’Anthony Melton, a possible first-round pick in this year’s draft, has announced on Twitter that he is withdrawing from USC.

The sophomore guard hasn’t played this season after being linked to the college basketball bribery scandal that resulted in the indictment of former Trojans associate head coach Tony Bland. The university held Melton out of action for the season’s first 18 games while it investigated, then announced in January that he would be suspended for the entire season after determining that a friend of Melton’s accepted a plane ticket and maybe room and board for an event in Las Vegas, according to Kyle Bonagura of ESPN.

“Being a member of the Men’s Basketball Program has given me an opportunity to develop my skill set at a world-class institution, with access to top-level resources,” Melton wrote in explaining his decision. “However, I have reached a crossroads wherein I have decided to focus on honing my strengths and improving upon my weaknesses for competition at the next level.”

Melton averaged 8.3 points and 3.5 assists in 36 games with USC as a freshman. He was projected to go 27th in the latest mock draft posted by ESPN’s Jonathan Givony, who writes that Melton “looked to be on the verge of a breakout season” before the FBI probe, citing his “defensive versatility, toughness and intangibles.”

Draft analyst Mike Schmitz of ESPN says Melton is “competitive with excellent bball instincts” (Twitter link). He’s 6’3″ with a 6’8″ wingspan and defends, rebounds and plays well off the ball. Schmitz adds that he needs to improve his “ball skills and jumper.”

And-Ones: BIG3, G League, Quarterman, J. Brown

Two more former NBA players have signed on with the BIG3, including one that just formally announced his retirement from the NBA this past summer. Veteran big man Jason Maxiell was one of those players joining the BIG3 player pool this week, according to the league (Twitter link). After playing more than 600 NBA regular season games and another 35 postseason contests, Maxiell signed a one-day contract in August and retired as a Piston. Now, he’ll have a chance to compete against – or team up with – former teammate Chauncey Billups in the BIG3.

Veteran forward Jamario Moon, who played in 286 total games for the Raptors, Heat, Cavaliers, Clippers, and Hornets from 2007 to 2012, also signed a BIG3 contract this week, according to an announcement from the league (Twitter link).

Here are more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Multiple 2018 NBA draft prospects who aren’t currently playing NCAA ball have been informed that they’re ineligible to play in the G League this season, a league source tells Jonathan Givony of ESPN. As Givony explains, players who were enrolled in college during an academic calendar year are ineligible to sign a G League contract in the same season unless they’ve been ruled permanently NCAA-ineligible. Mitchell Robinson, De’Anthony Melton, and Brian Bowen are among the potential 2018 first-rounders currently in limbo.
  • Former Trail Blazers guard Tim Quarterman had been set to join the Jiangsu Dragons in China, but passport complications prevented him from finalizing his deal, per international basketball reporter David Pick (Twitter link). According to Pick, the Chinese club signed ex-Lakers guard Jabari Brown instead.
  • Former first-round pick Archie Goodwin is back in the Suns‘ system, having been traded to Phoenix’s G League affiliate, the Northern Arizona Suns, earlier this week. Northern Arizona sent out a first-round pick and a second-round pick for the 2018 G League draft in the three-team deal.
  • The NBA’s next wave of international stars appears to have arrived, Michael Lee writes in an interesting feature for Yahoo Sports.