Fatts Russell

Northwest Notes: Forrest, Jazz Offseason, A-Rod, Wolves

Sarah Todd of The Deseret News wonders what’s next for Jazz guard Trent Forrest. The 23-year-old spent the past two seasons on a two-way deal with Utah after going undrafted out of Florida State, but his contract was converted to a standard deal on the last day of the regular season.

Although that technically made him eligible for the playoffs, Forrest was dealing with a left midfoot sprain, so the conversion was mostly ceremonial. The front office deferred to coach Quin Snyder‘s preference for the 15th roster spot, and Forrest was rewarded after earning the trust of Snyder, sources tell Todd.

As of last week, Forrest was still experiencing pain while rehabbing the injury and had yet to resume on-court work, but it’s not a long-term concern, Todd writes. Forrest will be a restricted free agent this summer if the team tenders him a qualifying offer worth just over $2MM.

Although he’s considered a strong defender, he knows he needs to work on his shot to have lasting success in the NBA.

This summer is going to be a lot of the same thing,” Forrest said. “I don’t need much pick-and-roll or things like that. A lot of (my work) is just gonna be a lot of left hand finishing and working on my shot.”

Here’s more from the Northwest:

  • In a mailbag column about how the Jazz should approach their offseason, Tony Jones of The Athletic says he believes Utah should keep both Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert and surround them with “bigger, longer, more athletic” players who are significantly better defensively. Juancho Hernangomez and Danuel House — two players who were on the verge of being out of the league — both made a big impact on the club due to their length, athleticism and competitive defense, and Jones thinks the Jazz need several more players in that mold. If he were part of the front office, he says he’d try to trade for a second-round pick in the draft and use the taxpayer mid-level exception (projected to be $6.4MM) to acquire players who meet that criteria. Utah does not own a pick at the moment.
  • After recent rumors that Timberwolves minority owner Alex Rodriguez might be interested in purchasing the Miami Marlins, his PR representative denied the claim. “Alex Rodriguez is 100 percent focused on owning the Minnesota Timberwolves and Minnesota Lynx. Any report of him having interest in also buying the Miami Marlins or any other MLB team is entirely false,” said Ron Berkowitz of Berk Communications (via Twitter). A-Rod and co-owner Marc Lore are set to become majority shareholders of the Wolves in 2023/24.
  • Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News reports that the Timberwolves worked out several draft prospects on Thursday and Friday, including UCLA’s Johnny Juzang, Maryland’s Fatts Russell, Alabama’s Keon Ellis, North Carolina’s Kerwin Walton, and Richmond’s Jacob Gilyard (all Twitter links here).

Gilyard, Ado, Russell Withdrawing From NBA Draft

Three early entrants have decided to pull their names out of the 2020 NBA draft poll and will return to school for one more year, according to reports from Jeff Goodman of Stadium and Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports.

Richmond guard Jacob Gilyard told Goodman (Twitter link) that he’ll withdraw from the draft, while Rothstein (Twitter links) hears that Mississippi State center Abdul Ado and Rhode Island guard Fatts Russell will do the same. All three players are coming off their junior years, so they’re now on track to become automatically draft-eligible in 2021.

Gilyard averaged 12.7 PPG, 5.7 APG, and an impressive 3.2 SPG for the Spiders in 31 games in 2019/20. Ado, who also appeared in 31 games, had a more modest stat line for the Bulldogs, recording 5.7 PPG, 6.7 RPG, and 1.9 BPG. Russell, meanwhile, led the Rams with 18.8 PPG while chipping in 4.6 APG, 3.4 RPG, and 2.9 SPG in 30 contests.

None of the three prospects held spots on ESPN’s top-100 list for the 2020 draft, so it doesn’t come as a major surprise that they’re holding off on going pro.

Our complete tracker of this year’s early entrants can be found right here.

Draft Notes: Russell, Williams, Vassell, Mays

Rhode Island guard Fatts Russell has declared for the draft but will maintain his college eligibility throughout the process, he wrote on an Instagram post. The junior averaged 18.8 PPG, 4.6 APG and 2.9 SPG this season. The 5’10” Russell averaged 14.2 PPG last season.

We have more draft news:

  • Cincinnati’s Keith Williams announced his intention to enter the draft and hire an agent on his Twitter feed. The 6’5” Williams averaged 12.6 PPG and shot 34.2% from long range as a junior this season. Williams has started two seasons for the Bearcats after being a rotation reserve as a freshman.
  • Oregon guard Payton Pritchard, Florida State guard Devin Vassell, Utah State guard Sam Merrill, Penn State forward Lamar Stevens and LSU guard Skylar Mays are five players who could make a surprising impact in the NBA, Jon Rothstein declares in a Yahoo Sports video post. Vassell, currently ranked No. 19 on ESPN’s Best Available list, is the only prospect among that group considered a likely first-rounder.
  • Potential lottery selection Killian Hayes has declared for the draft. Get the details here.