Killian Hayes

Knicks Notes: Ewing, Hayes, Facility, Nwora

Knicks legend Patrick Ewing would likely be a candidate in the search for a new head coach if Steve Mills hadn’t been fired as team president, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. A source tells Berman that Mills contacted Ewing two years ago before hiring David Fizdale. Ewing had just finished his first season at Georgetown and wasn’t ready to consider leaving. He was not among the 11 candidates that Mills interviewed.

Berman suggests Ewing could be in play for a top assistant’s role under Tom Thibodeau, who is rumored to be the favorite to replace Mike Miller. Thibodeau spent four years as a Knicks assistant while Ewing was still playing.

The former NBA star doesn’t have the advantage of a prior relationship with new president of basketball operations Leon Rose like Thibodeau, Kenny Atkinson and John Calipari all do. Ewing was represented by David Falk during his playing days. Still, he is believed to prefer the NBA over college basketball and Berman believes there’s a good chance he will eventually make his way to the Knicks.

There’s more this morning from New York:

  • French point guard Killian Hayes may be too similar to Frank Ntilikina for the Knicks to be interested, Berman adds in the same piece. Berman states that scouts are concerned about Hayes’ speed and he may be too much of a project to interest New York at No. 6, assuming the team stays there. He suggests Rose might be more willing to gamble on a scoring point guard like North Carolina’s Cole Anthony.
  • In a separate piece, Berman examines the benefits of the Knicks reopening their training facility, even though they won’t be part of the group resuming the season in Orlando. It will give their players a location where they can work out safely with minimal risk of being exposed to the coronavirus. Most of the team’s players left the New York area during the shutdown, but Taj Gibson and Maurice Harkless remained and Mitchell Robinson has returned. A source tells Berman it’s “a long shot” that the Knicks’ season will continue.
  • Louisville forward Jordan Nwora, an early entrant in this year’s draft, tells Adam Zagoria of Forbes that he has participated in Zoom calls with about 20 teams, including the Knicks (Twitter link). Nwora is projected to be taken in the second round, and New York has two second-round picks.

Draft Notes: Cisse, Kuminga, West, International

Forward Moussa Cisse, a top-10 prospect for the class of 2021, will graduate high school a year early and reclassify to this year with an eye toward the 2021 draft, Jonathan Givony of ESPN reports. Cisse was ranked No. 8 among prospects for the 2021 class. The 6’11” Cisse intends to commit to a top college program next week and has narrowed his choices to Kentucky, LSU, Florida State, Georgia, Memphis or Georgetown. “I am trying to find the best way to the NBA,” Cisse said.

We have more draft-related news:

  • Small forward Jonathan Kuminga, the top-ranked player on ESPN’s 2021 prospects list, has the option of reclassifying to this year and is considering the G League, according to Adam Zagoria of Zagsblog.com. Kuminga is “50-50” on reclassifying, but has already narrowed his college choices to Auburn, Duke, Kentucky and Texas Tech, along with the possibility of joining the G League development program. Kuminga has been doing online schoolwork in order to graduate early, Zagoria adds.
  • Marshall guard Jarrod West has elected to withdraw from the draft and return to school for his senior season, Jeff Goodman of Stadium tweets. A three-year starter with the Thundering Herd, West averaged 14.2 PPG, 4.1 APG, and 4.0 RPG last season.
  • Killian Hayes, Deni Avdija and Abdoulaye N’Doye rank as the top international prospects in this year’s draft, according to Bryan Kalbrosky of Hoops Hype. Players who participated in the Australian NBL’s Next Stars program this past season were not included in the rankings. According to ESPN’s latest rankings, Avdija is the top overseas prospect at No. 5 overall with Hayes ranked at No. 9.

Draft Updates: Hinton, Green, White, Hampton

Houston swingman Nate Hinton has elected to hire an agent and keep his name in the draft, according to Mark Berman of Fox 26 Houston (Twitter link). Liz Mullen of SportsBusiness Journal reports (via Twitter) that agent Tallen Todorovich will represent Hinton.

I’m at peace with it. I prayed long and hard about it,” Hinton said of his decision to forgo his remaining two years of college eligibility, per Berman. “Through the guidance of the people around me I decided to just make that step and turn professional.”

During his sophomore season with the Cougars, Hinton became a full-time starter and put up 10.6 PPG, 8.7 RPG, and 2.0 APG in 31 games (30.3 MPG). He shot 41.0% from the field, including 38.7% on three-pointers. Despite his solid year, Hinton doesn’t show up on ESPN’s list of 2020’s top 100 prospects, so he’s not exactly a lock to be drafted.

Here’s more on the 2020 NBA draft:

  • UCF guard Darin Green, who elected to test the draft waters following his freshman year, is withdrawing and will return to school next season, a source tells Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports (Twitter link).
  • Junior forward Romello White, who spent three years at Arizona State, has committed to Ole Miss, according to Jeff Goodman of Stadium (Twitter link). As far as we know, White still hasn’t technically withdrawn the draft, but his latest decision suggests he’ll likely transfer to Ole Miss rather than go pro.
  • After a report last week revealed that draft prospect RJ Hampton is working out with Memphis Tigers coach Penny Hardaway at the team’s practice facility, the University of Memphis has stepped in to put a stop to those workouts, which aren’t in accordance with the school’s COVID-19 protocols. Mark Giannotto of The Memphis Commercial Appeal has the details.
  • A strong 2019/20 performance ensured that Killian Hayes – once considered a probable late first-rounder – is now viewed as a surefire 2020 lottery pick, according to Jeremy Woo of SI.com, who takes a closer look at one of the top international prospects in this year’s draft pool.

Draft Notes: Okoro, Hayes, Adams, Hunter

Auburn star Isaac Okoro has confirmed, in an interview with Jason Jordan of Sports Illustrated, that he will remain in the NBA draft.

“I’ll be officially in the draft,” Okoro said. “I haven’t posted it on social media, but I feel like it will be the best move for me. It’s always been a dream of mine since I was a little kid to have a chance to make it to the NBA. It feels so surreal right now, but I also know once draft day comes, I’m just gonna be ready for the moment.”

Okoro is projected as a high lottery pick after averaging 12.8 points and 4.4 rebounds for the Tigers as a freshman. ESPN’s Jonathan Givony has him rated fourth overall and as the No. 1 small forward on the board in his list of the top 100 prospects. Early entrants have until June 3 to withdraw, but Okoro has already signed with an agency and said his decision is final.

There’s more draft news to pass along:

  • Potential top 10 pick Killian Hayes will skip a three-week tournament that the German league is planning for June, according to Givony. Some teams are permitting players to decide whether they want to participate in the proposed 10-team, 36-game event, which will determine the league champion and an automatic berth in the EuroLeague next season.
  • Jordyn Adams has withdrawn from the draft and will return to Austin Peay, tweets Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports. Adams averaged 17.4 points per game this year as a freshman.
  • Chance Hunter will return to Long Beach State after withdrawing from the draft, Rothstein adds (via Twitter).

Draft Notes: Madar, Montgomery, Hayes, Wiseman

Israeli point guard Yam Madar has decided to enter the 2020 NBA draft, agent Alex Saratsis tells Jonathan Givony of ESPN (Twitter link).

Madar, who plays for Hapoel Tel Aviv and ranks 74th on ESPN’s big board, is a candidate to be selected in the second round, as Givony notes. I imagine the 19-year-old’s odds of being drafted would increase if he’s willing to be a draft-and-stash prospect, developing his game for another year or two overseas while an NBA team holds his rights.

Here’s more on the 2020 draft:

  • Yet another Kentucky underclassman has entered the draft, with the Wildcats announcing today that sophomore forward EJ Montgomery is the latest to declare. Montgomery, who tested the draft waters a year ago, will go pro this time around after averaging 6.1 PPG, 5.4 RPG, and 1.1 BPG in a part-time role (24.1 MPG) for Kentucky. Five Wildcats are now part of our early entrants list, with Kahlil Whitney – who left the program in January – representing a sixth.
  • Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer makes a case for why he believes French guard Killian Hayes should be considered the No. 1 prospect in the 2020 draft class. Within the story, O’Connor suggests that NBA teams have wildly varying opinions on many of this year’s top prospects — for instance, some executives have center James Wiseman atop their boards, while others don’t have him in their top 10.
  • Israeli forward Deni Avdija is another wild card among this year’s lottery prospects. Marc Berman of The New York Post takes an in-depth look at Avdija, noting within the piece that the Raptors have scouted the youngster more than most teams. Toronto, of course, won’t be in position to draft Avdija in this year’s lottery.

Draft Notes: Early Entrants, Haliburton, Hayes, Avdija

The list of early entrants for the 2020 draft continues to grow, with a trio of guards among the latest underclassmen to announce their intent to test the waters this spring.

Wichita State sophomore guard Dexter Dennis, Colgate junior guard Jordan Burns, and UNC Greensboro junior guard Isaiah Miller all made their draft announcements on Twitter.

Dennis averaged 9.2 PPG and 5.0 RPG in 28 games (25.8 MPG) for the Shockers in 2019/20; Burns, a former Patriot Tournament MVP, posted 15.8 PPG, 4.5 APG, and 1.7 SPG in 34 games (32.4 MPG) for the Raiders; and Miller recorded a team-high 17.8 PPG to go along with 2.8 SPG as he earned Player of the Year – and Defensive Player of the Year – honors in the Southern Conference.

Here are a few more draft-related updates:

  • Even after the departure of Leon Rose, the head of the agency’s basketball department, Creative Artists Agency is having no problem continuing to fill out its roster with promising young players. CAA announced on Thursday (via Twitter) that projected lottery pick Tyrese Haliburton will be represented by the firm.
  • Ethan Strauss of The Athletic shares his “unconventional” top five for the 2020 draft, valuing efficiency and production over hype and athleticism and focusing on versatile players who have at least one elite skill. Based on those criteria, French wing Killian Hayes top Strauss’ board, followed by Obi Toppin, Haliburton, Onyeka Okongwu, and Isaac Okoro.
  • With the help of draft expert Fran Fraschilla, Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com takes an in-depth look at Israeli swingman Deni Avdija, who is another candidate to be one of the first five players off the board in the 2020 draft. Fraschilla cautions that Avdija’s shot needs some work, but views him as this year’s top international prospect – above Hayes – and believes he belongs in the upper tier of the draft class.

Killian Hayes Entering 2020 NBA Draft

French point guard Killian Hayes has officially made the decision to declare for the 2020 NBA draft, he tells Jonathan Givony of ESPN.

“I am officially declaring for the NBA draft,” Hayes wrote in an email to ESPN. “I have sent in paperwork to the league office and I’m very excited.”

Hayes, who had been playing in Germany this season before the coronavirus situation caused a stoppage, was averaging 12.0 PPG and 5.6 APG for Ratiopharm Ulm. He projects as a potential lottery pick in this year’s draft, currently ranking 10th overall on ESPN’s big board.

As ESPN’s Mike Schmitz notes in his scouting report, Hayes isn’t the most athletic player in this year’s draft pool and needs to get more comfortable with his right hand, but he’s an effective pick-and-roll player with a strong 6’5″ frame and could have an instant impact in the NBA, given his professional experience.

Draft Notes: Hayes, Mannion, Warriors, Mamukelashvili 

Killian Hayes, who skipped college basketball to play professionally in Germany, might be the answer the Knicks are looking for at point guard, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. Hayes was born in Florida, but has spent much of his life in France, where his father was a pro.

“He’s got good size for a young point guard, close to 6’5″, and he’s got a feel for the game,’’ said former Sixers general manager Brad Greenberg, who has spent several years coaching in Europe. “He’s used to having the ball in his hands and playing in a ball-screen offense. A very nice feel.’’

Hayes, who turns 19 in July, is ranked 10th in ESPN’s latest list of draft prospects and is the third point guard on the board behind LaMelo Ball and Tyrese Haliburton. Under the current standings, the Knicks’ pick could be as high as No. 1 and as low as No. 10.

There’s more draft news to pass along:

  • Arizona’s Nico Mannion makes sense for the Suns if they opt for a point guard in the draft, contends Jeremy Cluff of The Arizona Republic. Cluff rounds up draft projections for Phoenix, which is currently slotted at No. 10. Ricky Rubio is under contract for two more years, but he’s 29 and the Suns may be looking for his long-term replacement.
  • Despite an adjusted pre-draft schedule that has already resulted in the cancellation of the NCAA Tournament and the Nike Hoop Summit, the Warriors believe they will be prepared whenever the draft arrives, according to Wes Goldberg of The San Jose Mercury News. Assistant general manager Larry Harris said the team was about 90% done with its evaluations when the sports world was shut down last week, adding that everything else would have been “finishing touches.”
  • Seton Hall forward Sandro Mamukelashvili plans to declare for the draft without hiring an agent, reports Adam Zagoria of NJ.com. The 6’11” junior averaged 11.9 points and 6.0 rebounds per game this season. “It’s a great opportunity to see where he is at and where we go from here,” Pirates coach Kevin Willard said. “The draft process now helps kids make educated decisions and we are looking forward to going through the process with him.”

Draft Notes: UAC, Hayes, Early Entrants

NBA executive vice president of basketball operations Kiki VanDeWeghe issued a memo to NCAA coaches on Tuesday morning telling them that the league will be accepting applications from college players seeking feedback from the Undergraduate Advisory Committee, per Adrian Wojnarowski and Jonathan Givony of ESPN.

The UAC provides potential early entrants with feedback on their stock – based on input from NBA executives – to help them make informed decisions on whether or not to declare for the draft. Prospects who want to test the draft waters must first apply for an evaluation from the UAC.

This year’s deadline to apply for that evaluation is April 16 — it’s not clear whether that date will be pushed back in the coming weeks, given the uncertain nature of the NBA’s hiatus. Adam Zagoria of Forbes tweeted today that multiple sources expect the draft to be postponed until July or August.

Whether or not the UAC application deadline changes, the process figures to be more important than usual this spring for prospects seeking feedback, as ESPN duo points out. Team executives are preparing for the possibility that scouting and workout opportunities will be extremely limited, if not entirely eliminated, leading up to this year’s draft.

According to Wojnarowski and Givony, VanDeWeghe acknowledged the “rapidly evolving” situation in his memo, noting that the league would advise NCAA coaches and players of any changes to the pre-draft process “whenever such information is available.”

Here’s more on the 2020 NBA draft:

And-Ones: Italy, 2020 Draft, 2021 Free Agents

The coronavirus outbreak continues to have a major impact on Italian sports, with Nicola Lupo of Sportando passing along word that all sporting events taking place in Italy through April 3 will be played behind closed doors. The Italian government, which announced those measures, also said that athletes, coaches, and other team personnel will undergo medical tests to help avoid the virus from spreading.

There aren’t as many former NBA players competing professionally in Italy right now as there are in China and some other countries around the world, but Italy is still one of Europe’s basketball hubs, featuring one EuroLeague team in Olimpia Milano. The ruling will have a major impact on what basketball games in Italy look like over the next several weeks.

Here’s more from around the basketball world:

  • Georgia guard Anthony Edwards, the country’s leading freshman scorer, ranks atop many draft experts’ big boards for 2020. John Hollinger of The Athletic breaks down Edwards’ pros and cons, arguing that despite some flaws, Edwards has a “pretty high floor” and looks like “the least-bad option in a bad draft.”
  • Jonathan Tjarks of The Ringer wonders if the uninspiring crop of NCAA prospects this spring will prompt more teams to look at international draft options. Deni Avdija, Killian Hayes, and Theo Maledon are among the prospects who could appeal to NBA teams, as Tjarks details.
  • Although the 2021 free agent class looks tantalizing, many of the very best players who could hit the market that summer – including LeBron James and Kawhi Leonard – are already playing where they want to be, so it remains to be seen how much star movement there will be, writes Danny Leroux of The Athletic.
  • As Lonzo Ball tries to help push the Pelicans into the postseason and LaMelo Ball prepares for the 2020 draft, their brother LiAngelo Ball is expected to sign a G League contract soon, sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). Ball has been practicing with the Thunder‘s NBAGL affiliate, the Oklahoma City Blue, as of late.