Kenneth Lofton

NBA G League Announces 24 Players For Next Up Game

The NBA G League announced today that G League Ignite guard Scoot Henderson and Timberwolves/Iowa Wolves forward Luka Garza have been named team captains for the NBAGL Next Up Game, which will take place in Salt Lake City during All-Star weekend.

While the exhibition match isn’t technically being called a G League All-Star Game, that’s essentially what it is. The 24-player pool was selected by a fan vote and by the league itself.

Henderson averaged 21.2 PPG, 6.0 APG, and 4.3 RPG in six Showcase Cup games (28.5 MPG) before missing time with an injury. The guard, widely projected to be the No. 2 pick in this year’s draft, has registered 17.7 PPG, 5.7 APG, and 4.5 RPG in 11 regular season games (29.8 MPG) since returning.

Garza, meanwhile, has been dominant at the G League level while playing for the Timberwolves on a two-way contract. He averaged 29.8 PPG, 9.2 RPG, and 3.2 APG on .628/.500/.794 shooting in nine Showcase Cup games (34.4 MPG) and has been boosted those averages in two regular season games (32.5 PPG, 12.0 RPG, 5.0 APG) for the Iowa Wolves.

Here’s the full list of players who will take part in the G League Next Up Game:

(* Players marked with an asterisk are on two-way contracts with NBA teams.)

As is the case with the NBA All-Star Game, the team captains – in this case, Henderson and Garza – will select their 12-man squads in a draft. The draft for the G League Next Up Game will take place on February 14.

NBA Announces Player Pool For Rising Stars Event

The NBA officially unveiled the 28-player pool for this year’s Rising Stars event on Tuesday, making the announcement via the NBA App. The following players made the cut:

Rookies:

Sophomores:

G League players:

As was the case last season, the Rising Stars event will consist of four teams and three games. The seven G League players will comprise one team, coached by longtime NBA guard Jason Terry. The other 21 players will be drafted to three squads coached by former NBA stars Pau Gasol, Joakim Noah, and Deron Williams.

The four teams will be split into two first-round matchups and the winners of those two games will face one another for the Rising Stars championship. The two semifinals will be played to a target score of 40 points, while the final will be played to a target score of 25 points.

All three contests will take place on Friday, February 17 as part of All-Star weekend in Salt Lake City. The NBA’s full press release with more information on the event can be found right here.

And-Ones: Brazdeikis, Hall, Harden, Johnson, Lofton Jr.

After finishing the 2021/22 season in Orlando, Ignas Brazdeikis remains on the free agent market and he’s drawing interest from two EuroLeague teams, according to Donatas Urbonas of BasketNews.com.

Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz and Zalgiris Kaunas are the teams pursuing Brazdeikis, though he’d prefer to stay in the NBA. Both Zalgiris and Baskonia are desperately looking for a perimeter player, according to Urbonas. Baskonia is trying to replace Simone Fontecchio, who is signing a two-year deal with the Jazz. Brazdeikis appeared in 42 games with the Magic last season.

We have more from the basketball world:

  • Former NBA forward Donta Hall has signed a three-year extension with AS Monaco, the team announced in a press release. Hall’s last NBA action came during the 2020/21 campaign, when he played 13 games with Orlando.
  • James Harden is a bargain? If he takes a pay cut and signs a two-year contract worth approximately $68MM with the Sixers, he’d rank as the best free agent value this offseason, Keith Smith writes in a Spotrac article. Keldon Johnson‘s four-year, $80MM extension with the Spurs and Kevon Looney‘s three-year, $25.5MM deal with the Warriors are also among the summer’s most team-friendly deals, in Smith’s estimation.
  • There were some eye-popping performances and some clunkers in the final Summer League games played over the weekend. Ethan Fuller of Basketball News takes a look at the “Studs,” including Kenneth Lofton Jr.’s 27-point, 12-rebound performance for the Grizzlies, and “Duds” from those contests.

Grizzlies Sign Three Draft Picks, Kenneth Lofton Jr.

The Grizzlies have signed first-round draft picks Jake LaRavia and David Roddy to multi-year contracts, the team tweets.

LaRavia, who played for Wake Forest last season, was acquired by Memphis with the No. 19 overall pick pursuant to a draft-night trade with the Timberwolves. His rookie scale contract, under the latest salary cap, could go four years and can be worth up to $14,763,367.

Roddy, who played for Colorado State last season, was acquired by the Grizzlies with the No. 23 overall pick after a trade with the 76ers. His rookie scale deal can go four years and be worth up to $12,985,886.

[RELATED: Rookie Scale Salaries For 2022 NBA First-Round Picks]

The Grizzlies also announced that wing Vince Williams Jr. and big man Kenneth Lofton Jr. have signed two-way contracts (Twitter link).

Williams Jr., the No. 47 overall pick of this year’s draft, was selected to the 2021/22 All-Atlantic 10 First Team during his senior year at VCU.

The Grizzlies’ decision to give Lofton a two-way deal was previously reported. He was named to the All-Conference USA First Team during his sophomore year at Louisiana Tech last season but went undrafted.

With Williams and Lofton on two-way deals, the Grizzlies have waived guard Tyrell Terry, who signed a two-year, two-way contract last season. Terry, drafted by Dallas in 2020, appeared in two games with Memphis in ’21/22.

The Grizzlies still have one unsigned draftee, No. 38 pick Kennedy Chandler. His deal will likely be completed once the July moratorium ends.

Grizzlies To Sign Kenneth Lofton Jr. On Two-Way Deal

The Grizzlies are set to add undrafted Louisiana Tech rookie power forward Kenneth Lofton Jr. on a two-way deal, One Legacy Sports agent Mike George informs Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link).

Lofton played for two seasons with the Bulldogs. During his 2021/22 sophomore tenure,  he averaged 16.5 PPG, 10.5 RPG, 2.8 APG, 1.2 SPG and 0.7 BPG across 33 games, all starts. He connected on 53.9% of his field goal looks and 67.2% of his 5.5 charity stripe takes.

The 6’7″ forward was named the Conference USA Freshman of the Year of the 2020/21 season. He was a Third-Team All-Conference USA selection in 2021 and First-Team All-Conference USA honoree in 2022. Lofton also won a gold medal for Team USA in the 2020 FIBA Under-19 World Cup. He averaged 13.1 PPG and 5.3 RPG in the tournament.

Memphis has had a busy draft night. The Grizzlies traded for the right to select Wake Forest forward Jake LaRavia with the No. 19 pick, and subsequently dealt guard De’Anthony Melton to the Sixers for the draft rights to Colorado State wing David Roddy with the No. 23 pick. In the second round, the Grizzlies selected Tennessee point guard Kennedy Chandler at No. 38, who had been projected to be a first-round pick, and VCU forward Vince Williams with the No. 48 pick.

Draft Notes: O’Neal, Eason, Lakers, Weathers, Nembhard, Mobley

LSU junior Shareef O’Neal is eligible to be selected in the draft, Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets. The son of Shaquille O’Neal, Shareef O’Neal was mistakenly included in the list of withdrawals released by the league last week. He has upcoming team workouts, Charania adds.

We have more draft-related info:

  • Another LSU player, wing Tari Eason, has upcoming workouts scheduled with the Cavaliers, Grizzlies and Spurs, Josh Robbins of The Athletic tweets. He has already worked out for a number of teams, including the Bulls, Thunder and Knicks. Eason is ranked No. 18 overall on ESPN’s Best Available list.
  • The Lakers hosted six prospects on Monday, including UCLA’s Johnny Juzang, Jovan Buha of The Athletic tweets. That group also included Remy Martin (Kansas), Jermaine Samuels (Villanova), Michael Devoe (Georgia Tech), Haowen Guo (Shanghai Sharks) and Kenneth Lofton Jr. (Louisiana Tech).
  • SMU’s Marcus Weathers worked out for the Spurs on Monday, Adam Zagoria of Zagsblog.com tweets. Gonzaga’s Andrew Nembhard and USC’s Isaiah Mobley were also among the six prospects San Antonio hosted, Nicola Lupo of Sportando tweets. Nembhard, a point guard, projects as a potential first-rounder. He’s ranked No. 35 on ESPN’s list.

Draft Notes: Lofton Jr., Bynum, Brooks, Delaire

Louisiana Tech forward Kenneth Lofton Jr. has decided to remain in the draft, he revealed on his Twitter page. Lofton, who was named to the All-Conference USA first team, averaged 16.5 PPG and 10.5 RPG in 33 games last season as a sophomore. Lofton is not currently projected to be drafted, but turned some heads at the G League Elite Camp.

We have more draft decisions:

  • Providence’s Jared Bynum is withdrawing his name and returning to the Friars next season, Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports tweets. The junior guard averaged 12.2 PPG and 4.0 APG last season.
  • Kentucky forward Keion Brooks is removing his name from consideration, Jeff Goodman of Stadium tweets. Brooks, who is in the transfer portal, started 33 games for the Wildcats and averaged 10.8 PPG and 4.4 RPG.
  • San Diego forward Jaiden Delaire, a Stanford transfer, is also withdrawing from the draft, Rothstein adds in another tweet. He averaged 10.1 PPG and 4.0 RPG while starting 26 of 32 games for the Cardinal last season.

Draft Notes: Banchero, Harper, Withdrawals, Boeheim, Combine, Mock Drafts

Paolo Banchero is expected to be among the first names off the board in next month’s draft, and the Duke star did some campaigning to be the No. 1 overall pick in an interview with ESPN following Tuesday’s lottery (video link).

Banchero earned second-team All-America honors during his freshman season with the Blue Devils, averaging 17.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 3.2 assists in 39 games. Possessing exceptional passing skills and offensive versatility for his 6’10” size, Banchero told the ESPN crew he patterns his game after players such as LeBron James, Jayson Tatum, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Carmelo Anthony and said he’ll be ready to contribute right away to whichever team drafts him.

“From day one, they’ll get versatility for sure,” Banchero said. “There’s not a position on the court where I’m not comfortable, with the ball in my hands or the ball off my hands. I’m going to be all right. I’m going to be an immediate impact because I’m ready physically and I’m ready mentally. I am ready to get to work.”

There’s more on the draft:

  • Rutgers forward Ron Harper Jr. has signed with Roc Nation Sports, officially ending his college career, according to Brian Fonseca of NJ.com. The senior earned honorable mention All-America honors, was a two-time all-Big Ten selection and helped the Scarlet Knights reach the NCAA Tournament in back-to-back seasons after a 30-year absence.
  • Kyle Lofton, formerly of St. Bonaventure, has decided to withdraw from the draft, tweets Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports. He will transfer to Florida for next season.
  • Andre Kelly, who played the last four years for California, is also taking his name out of the draft, Rothstein adds (Twitter link). He will use his extra year of eligibility to transfer to UC Santa Barbara.
  • Hofstra’s Aaron Estrada also plans to exit the draft and return to school, according to Rothstein (Twitter link).
  • Syracuse guard Buddy Boeheim has worked out for the Knicks, Kings and Warriors and had an impressive showing at the G League Elite Camp, per Adam Zagoria of Zagsblog. Boeheim will hold a Pro Day in Chicago today.
  • Seven players from the Elite Camp were able to earn spots at the NBA’s draft combine, the G League announced on Twitter. They are LSU’s Darius Days, Louisiana Tech’s Kenneth Lofton Jr., Connecticut’s Tyrese Martin, Seton Hall’s Jared Rhoden, Houston’s Marcus Sasser, Texas Tech’s Bryson Williams and Kansas’ Jalen Wilson.
  • Auburn forward Jabari Smith is number one on the list of top 20 prospects by John Hollinger of The Athletic. Banchero is the only other prospect in Hollinger’s top tier, and he ranks Purdue guard Jaden Ivey and Gonzaga center Chet Holmgren right below them.
  • Several new mock drafts were released after Tuesday’s lottery. Jonathan Givony of ESPN and Sam Vecenie of The Athletic both have Smith going to the Magic at No. 1, followed by Holmgren to the Thunder at No. 2 and Banchero to the Rockets at No. 3. Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer has Holmgren going to Orlando, Smith to Oklahoma City and Banchero to Houston.

Pacific Notes: James, Kuminga, Booker, Kings Draft Workout

LeBron James can sign a two-year extension this offseason and it increasingly appears he’s on board with the team’s future plans. Brian Windhorst said on ESPN’s Get Up show that James and Lakers owner Jeanie Buss are “in a good place” as the franchise tries to move on from a disastrous season (hat tip to Hoops Hype).

“From what I understand, LeBron and Jeanie are in a good place right now, despite the frustrations of this season,” Windhorst said. “LeBron believes that a few tweaks and some health can actually turn this thing around, and they can be super competitive. He is invested, wants to be there.”

We have more from the Pacific Division:

  • Jonathan Kuminga didn’t play in Game 6 against the Grizzlies but Draymond Green believes the Warriors rookie has a very bright future, as he told Marc Spears of Andscape. “He can be a perennial All-Star in this league,” Green said. “That’s up to him and the work he puts in. But he has the skills, the tools, he can see the floor, he has the opportunity if he puts the work in to be a perennial All-Star.”
  • Devin Booker finished fourth in the voting for the Most Valuable Player award but the Suns guard should be at the forefront of the conversation for next year’s award, Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic writes. Along with his scoring and play-making, Booker has cut down on his turnovers and improved defensively.
  • The Kings brought in six draft prospects on Thursday, Jason Anderson of the Sacramento Bee tweets. That group included Will Richardson (Oregon), Jamal Bieniemy (UTEP), Lester Quinones (Memphis), Jeriah Horne (Tulsa), Kenneth Lofton Jr. (Louisiana Tech) and Efe Abogidi (Washington State).

44 Prospects Announced For 2022 NBA G League Elite Camp

The NBA G League has formally announced its field of 44 draft prospects for the 2022 NBA G League Elite Camp.

The event, which will take place May 16 and 17 in Chicago, “gives draft prospects an opportunity to display their skills in front of NBA and NBA G League scouts, coaches and front-office executives over the course of the camp by playing in five-on-five games and participating in strength and agility drills.”

The top performers from the camp will be invited to the NBA Draft Combine, which will take place from May 18-22 in Chicago. Some NBA players who have participated in past G League Elite Camps include Pelicans guard Jose Alvarado, Pacers forward Oshae Brissett, Clippers wing Terance Mann, and Heat wing Max Strus.

Here’s the list of 44 draft-eligible attendees:

The list of attendees features 13 players on ESPN’s big board, notes Jonathan Givony of ESPN (via Twitter), so some players have a chance to be drafted.

The top-ranked prospect at the camp is Scheierman (No. 69), who averaged 16.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 1.3 steals on .508/.469/.802 shooting this season for South Dakota State (35 games, 33.3 minutes per contest).