Leron Black

Draft Notes: Ponds, Lakers, Grizzlies, Cavaliers

The NBA draft lottery is still a week away, but teams have already started bringing in prospects for pre-draft workouts. Those workouts are especially important for early entrants who are still testing the waters, since they’re a great opportunity for those players to find out where they stand with NBA teams.

One of those players is St. John’s guard Shamorie Ponds, who entered the draft process this spring as a sophomore, and will have until May 30 to decide whether to withdraw and return to school for his junior year. According to Adam Zagoria of ZagsBlog.com (Twitter link), Ponds has already worked out for the Celtics, and has auditions for the Nets and Cavaliers lined up this weekend.

Here are a few more draft-related updates, with a focus on workouts:

Draft Updates: Ayton, Trier, Okogie, Black, Dixson

A bracket-busting upset on the first evening of March Madness saw Arizona ousted from this year’s NCAA tournament, as the fourth-seeded Wildcats fell to No. 13 Buffalo. Arizona’s loss accelerated the timeline for top prospect Deandre Ayton to make the leap to the NBA, as he confirmed after the game that – as expected – he’ll enter this year’s draft.

Ayton has a reasonable chance to be the No. 1 pick this June, and a report early in March had already indicated that he’d enter this year’s draft, so his announcement on Thursday came as no surprise. As ESPN’s Linda Cohn tweets, Ayton’s teammate Allonzo Trier also confirmed after Thursday’s loss that he’d be leaving the Wildcats and entering this year’s draft, as previously reported.

Here are more updates on NCAA underclassmen who are eyeing a potential move to the NBA or another professional league:

  • Georgia Tech guard Josh Okogie plans to test the draft waters by declaring without hiring an agent, as Ken Sugiura of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution relays. Okogie currently ranks as the 44th-best prospect on ESPN’s big board, making him a viable candidate to be drafted. The sophomore averaged 18.2 PPG and 6.3 RPG for the Yellow Jackets this season.
  • Illinois forward Leron Black will forgo his final year of NCAA eligibility and enter the draft, head coach Brad Underwood announced on Thursday. Black, who plans on signing with an agent, led Illinois in PPG (15.3), RPG (5.2), FG% (.547), and 3PT% (.512) during the 2017/18 season.
  • Dikembe Dixson, a redshirt sophomore at UIC, will pursue a professional career, the school announced in a press release. While the announcement doesn’t specify whether or not the young forward will sign with an agent, it doesn’t sound like he’ll be back. Coach Steve McClain said in a statement that the program wishes Dixson “great success in the pursuit of his professional career.” Dixson added: “Though I am leaving the university at this time, it is definitely my intention to finish the work necessary to graduate from UIC someday.”