Joel Ayayi

Lakers Sign Joel Ayayi, Austin Reaves To Two-Way Deals

AUGUST 3: The two-way signings of Ayayi and Reaves are now official, the Lakers announced today in a press release.


JULY 30: The Lakers have reached an agreement with undrafted free agent Joel Ayayi on a two-way contract, a source tell ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link). The club has also agreed to sign rookie shooting guard Austin Reaves to a two-way contract, reports Dave McMenamin of ESPN (Twitter link).

Reaves and Ayayi rank second and third, respectively, on ESPN’s list of undrafted prospects.

Ayayi, a 6’5″ wing, averaged 12.0 PPG and 6.9 RPG on .575/.389/.781 shooting in 32 games (31.3 MPG) for the Zags as a junior in 2020/21. Reaves, who began his college career at Wichita State, transferred to Oklahoma for his last two seasons and had his best year in 2020/21, putting up 18.3 PPG, 5.5 RPG, and 4.6 APG, though his three-point percentage was a modest 30.5%.

Ayayi and Reaves appear likely to take the roster spots previously held by two-way players Kostas Antetokounmpo and Devontae Cacok. Both players are free agents this offseason, and Antetokounmpo has already lined up a deal with a team in France.

Northwest Notes: Jazz, Grimes, OKC, Moody, Wolves, Nuggets

The Jazz are hosting a pre-draft workout on Thursday that will includes Houston’s Quentin Grimes, Providence’s David Duke, and San Diego State’s Matt Mitchell, sources tell Tony Jones of The Athletic.

Jones categorizes it as an important session for the Jazz, who like Grimes as a potential target at No. 30 and want to get a closer look at Mitchell, who has worked out for more than 10 teams and is considered a draft riser.

Sources tell Jones that other prospects the Jazz are eyeing as possibilities at No. 30 include Nah’Shon Hyland, Ayo Dosunmu, Miles McBride, Herb Jones, Joel Ayayi from Gonzaga, Joshua Primo, and Jared Butler.

  • Arkansas wing Moses Moody visited the Thunder in Oklahoma City earlier this week, as Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee tweets. Moody is the 16th-ranked prospect on ESPN’s big board, so he could play be in play for OKC at No. 16 or 18 next Thursday.
  • Now that Alex Rodriguez and Marc Lore have formally been approved as minority stakeholders in the Timberwolves, Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic examines the challenges facing A-Rod and Lore, who will assume majority control of the franchise by 2023. As Krawczynski observes, there are similarities between the Wolves’ current situation and the one that Marc Lasry, Wes Edens and Jamie Dinan inherited in 2014 when they bought the Bucks, though it’s probably unrealistic to expect the next seven years in Minnesota to play out like the last seven in Milwaukee.
  • The Nuggets put forth a “full, all-hands-on-deck organizational effort” to ensure longtime assistant Wes Unseld Jr. got a head coaching job, Denver’s president of basketball operations Tim Connelly told Fred Katz of The Athletic. Connelly said he informed the Wizards that Unseld “is one of the brightest minds I’ve ever been around.”
  • South Carolina wing A.J. Lawson worked out today for the Nuggets, according to Adam Zagoria of Forbes (Twitter link).

Eastern Notes: Sexton, Knicks, Heat, Hawks, Raptors

Following up on Shams Charania’s report that the Knicks have been the most aggressive trade suitor for Collin Sexton so far, Marc Berman of The New York Post confirms that the team has the Cavaliers guard on its trade radar.

According to Berman, the Knicks would’ve picked Sexton over Kevin Knox in the 2018 draft if he had slipped to No. 9 instead of being selected at No. 8. Berman adds that Knicks forward Obi Toppin, who played his college ball at Dayton, may be a player the Cavs would target in a trade.

A source tells Berman that the Knicks – who hold the 19th and 21st overall picks – are open to trading out of the first round entirely in order to acquire an “established player.” Sexton has certainly established himself as a talented scorer, having averaged 24.5 points per game in 2020/21, though it’s unclear if New York would be willing to offer both of its first-round picks in a package for him.

Here’s more from around the East:

Draft Notes: Mayer, Murphy, Duarte, Ayayi, Combine

Baylor forward Matthew Mayer, who had been set to attend the draft combine in Chicago this week, is withdrawing from both the combine and the draft, a source tells Jonathan Givony of ESPN.

Mayer, ranked as this year’s No. 63 overall prospect by ESPN, was a candidate to be selected in the second round and almost certainly would’ve received a two-way deal or a training camp invite if he went undrafted. However, the 6’9″ junior has decided to return to the national-champion Bears for another year.

Givony expects another college season to boost Mayer’s draft stock, since he should be in line for a larger role at Baylor. The forward could be a Big 12 Player of the Year candidate and a potential 2022 first-round pick, says Givony.

Here’s more on the 2021 NBA draft:

  • Potential first-round pick Trey Murphy III has decided to hire an agent, he told Givony. Murphy will remain in the draft and forgo his remaining NCAA eligibility after averaging 11.3 PPG on .503/.433/.927 shooting in 25 games (29.6 MPG) at Virginia as a junior.
  • Oregon’s Chris Duarte and Gonzaga’s Joel Ayayi were among the players who turned down combine invites, according to Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report. Wasserman hears that Duarte may not have wanted to give up a week of working with his personal trainer, while Ayayi’s camp is confident in his draft outlook without the combine, though there are no indications he has received a promise.
  • Cameron Thomas of LSU and Isaiah Jackson of Kentucky are withdrawing from this week’s combine, tweets Jeremy Woo of SI.com. Both players are projected first-round picks.
  • In his preview of the draft combine, Givony (Insider link) identifies Alabama guard Josh Primo, Arizona State forward Marcus Bagley, West Virginia guard Miles McBride, and Texas Tech wing Terrence Shannon as some of the players with the most at stake this week. They all rank between Nos. 32 and 41 on ESPN’s big board and will be looking to establish themselves as first-rounders.

Draft Notes: Robinson-Earl, Moody, Ayayi, Wiggins, Ayala, Jefferson

Villanova forward Jeremiah Robinson-Earl is signing with an agent and will enter the draft, he announced on his Twitter feed. Robinson-Earl is ranked No. 46 overall and No. 9 among power forward on ESPN’s Best Available list. The 6’9” sophomore averaged 15.7 PPG and 8.5 RPG for the Wildcats this season.

We have more draft decisions:

  • Arkansas swingman Moses Moody is headed for the draft, according to an ESPN story. Moody, who made his announcement on ESPN’s The Jump, is a potential first-rounder — he’s currently ranked No. 21 overall on the Best Available list. The one-and-done prospect averaged 16.8 PPG and 5.8 RPG for the Razorbacks.
  • Gonzaga swingman Joel Ayayi has signed with an agent and will enter the draft, CBS’ Jon Rothstein tweets. The 6’4” Ayayi averaged 12.0 PPG, 6.9 RPG and 2.7 APG for the national championship runners-up. He’s ranked No. 62 by ESPN.
  • Maryland’s Aaron Wiggins will test the waters but maintain his college eligibility, Jonathan Givony of ESPN tweets. Ranked No. 86 by ESPN, the Terrapins junior shooting guard averaged 14.5 PPG, 5.8 RPG and 2.5 APG. Maryland’s top scorer, junior guard Eric Ayala (15.1 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 2.2 APG), will follow in Wiggins’ footsteps, Rothstein tweets.
  • Creighton’s Damien Jefferson will forgo his additional year of eligibility and enter the draft, Rothstein tweets. The 6’5” Jefferson averaged 11.9 PPG and 5.4 RPG this season.

Draft Notes: Cockburn, Dosunmu, Ayayi, Carr, More

Illinois will have two important players back on campus next season as center Kofi Cockburn and guard Ayo Dosunmu have both withdrawn from the NBA draft, writes Adam Zagoria of Zagsblog. Cockburn made an impact in his first collegiate season, averaging 13.3 points and 8.8 rebounds in 31 games. He announced his decision today on Twitter.

“He’s coming back to improve on all aspects of his game,’’ said Karriem Memminger, who serves as a mentor to the 7-footer. “He feels like there’s so much more he wants to show to the next level (NBA). He’s never satisfied. He wants to win a Big Ten championship followed by a national championship. And he wants to be selected to first team all-conference. Plus he loves the coaching staff and Illinois fans, who he feels are the best fans in college basketball. His dream is to become an NBA player and an NBA All-Star.’’

Dosunmu, who made his decision Friday night, averaged 16.6 points, 4.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game as a sophomore. He was among the players invited to this year’s draft combine.

There’s more draft news to pass along:

  • Joel Ayayi has decided to return to Gonzaga for his junior season, Zagoria tweets. Ayayi averaged 10.6 points and 6.3 rebounds this year and was named Most Outstanding Player in the West Coast Conference Tournament.
  • Point guard Marcus Carr has decided to bypass the draft and return to Minnesota, writes Marcus Fuller of The Star Tribune. A transfer from Pitt, Carr set a school record this season with 207 assists and was a Third Team All-Big 10 selection by the media. “I am dedicating this season to my brother, and I can’t wait to be out on the court with my teammates in front of Gopher nation,” Carr wrote in a text.
  • Damien Jefferson and Denzel Mahoney will both return to Creighton next season, according to a tweet from head coach Greg McDermott.
  • Arkansas guard Isaiah Joe will return to school for his junior season, tweets Sam Vecenie of The Athletic. Joe averaged 16.9 PPG this year.
  • Colorado guard McKinley Wright has elected to pull out of the draft and return to school next season, according to Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports (Twitter link).

Latest On Potential 2020 NBA Draft Combine

The NBA has begun sending emails to select players telling them they’ve been selected to attend this year’s draft combine, reports Jonathan Givony of ESPN (Twitter link).

However, that message comes with a caveat, per Givony — the league says no decisions have been made yet about when or where the combine will take place, what form it will take, or even if it will occur at all. As Givony adds (via Twitter), the NBA is asking prospects to fill out a pre-combine questionnaire by this Friday and has promised more details as they become available.

The 2020 draft combine was scheduled to take place in May in Chicago, but has been delayed indefinitely due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Word broke last week that the NBA had sent a memo to teams informing them of the 105 prospects who received the most votes to be invited to a combine, if one takes place. Adam Zagoria of ZagsBlog.com has a list of those 105 players right here. The expectation is that about 60 or 70 of those players would ultimately attend a combine, either virtually or in-person.

Reports are surfacing identifying some of the players who have received combine invitations. Most of those names are unsurprising and overlap with the players on ESPN’s top-100 list, but that’s not the case for all of them.

For example, Josh Newman of The Salt Lake Tribune reports that BYU forward Yoeli Childs has been invited, while Zagoria says (via Twitter) that Gonzaga guard Joel Ayayi and Illinois center Kofi Cockburn are among the invitees. None of those players show up on ESPN’s top-100 big board.

Draft Notes: Maker, Petrusev, Ayayi, Trifunovic

Big man Makur Maker is declaring for the draft, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. The 6’11” Maker was ruled eligible for the draft in February despite being two credits short of graduating with his original 2019 high school class in California. The younger cousin of Pistons center Thon Maker, Makur Maker is ranked No. 75 overall and No. 14 among center prospects by ESPN. Maker, a five-star recruit, attended Hillcrest Academy in Phoenix this winter.

We have more draft decisions:

  • Gonzaga big man Filip Petrusev has declared for the draft but hasn’t hired an agent, Matt Babcock of Babcock Hoops tweets. The 6’11” Serbian native started 33 games for the Bulldogs this season after coming off the bench as a freshman. He averaged 17.5 PPG and 7.9 RPG and scored in double digits in all but two games. He is ranked No. 60 overall and No. 12 among power forwards by ESPN.
  • Petrusev’s teammate Joel Ayayi is also declaring for the draft, Evan Daniels of 247 Sports tweets. Ayayi, a 6’5” sophomore guard, averaged 10.6 PPG, 6.3 RPG and 3.2 APG for Gonzaga this season.
  • Serbian wing Uros Trifunovic has declared for the draft, according to Sportando. The 6’6” Trifunovic, 19, played for Partizan Belgrade this season. In nine EuroCup games, he averaged 5.4 PPG in 13.2 MPG.