Luka Garza

Draft Notes: Garza, Cooper, Pacers, Mock Drafts

The Sixers, who are in the market for a reserve center, worked out a pair of big men today, according to Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Iowa’s Luka Garza, the two-time national player of the year, was in Philadelphia, along with Utah State’s Neemias Queta.

Garza, who is projected to be taken anywhere from the end of the first round to the middle of the second round, has dropped weight since the college season ended in an effort to become more mobile on defense. Queta was named Player of the Year in the Mountain West Conference and was a finalist for Naismith Defensive Player of the Year honors.

With Dwight Howard entering free agency, Pompey notes that the Sixers don’t have a reliable backup to Joel Embiid. Philadelphia holds the 28th and 50th selections in next week’s draft.

There’s more draft news to pass along:

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:

Southeast Notes: Hornets’ Workouts, Westbrook, Beal, Mosley, McMillan

The Hornets worked out seven draft prospects on Friday, headlined by UConn guard James Bouknight, P.J. Morales of the Charlotte Observer writes. Bouknight is rated as the No. 8 overall prospect on ESPN’s Best Available list. Auburn guard Sharife Cooper (No. 18 on ESPN’s list), Tennessee guard Jaden Springer (No. 27), and Auburn forward JT Thor (No. 28) were some of the other potential first-rounders who visited. The group also included Iowa center Luka Garza, Howard center Makur Maker, and Croatian forward Roko Prkacin (No. 37).

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • Not surprisingly, Russell Westbrook and Bradley Beal are the players most likely to remain on the Wizards‘ roster heading into next season, Fred Katz of The Athletic anticipates. Katz takes a look at every player on the roster and projects the odds they’ll return with Washington for the 2021/22 campaign.
  • Mavericks assistant Jamahl Mosley was interviewed for the Magic’s head coaching job on Thursday, Josh Robbins of The Athletic tweets. Orlando’s desire to interview Mosley was previously reported. Mosley is likely to leave Dallas after being passed over for the head coaching job that went to Jason Kidd.
  • Nate McMillan has far exceeded all expectations as the Hawks’ interim coach and Mark Bradley of the Atlanta Journal Constitution notes how the veteran coach has connected with his players in ways that previous coach Lloyd Pierce failed to do.

Combine Notes: Garza, K. Johnson, Barnes, Kuminga

Iowa center Luka Garza was one of the best players in college basketball, but he has to prove to scouts that his skills will translate to the NBA. The Wooden Award winner was hoping to do that at the draft combine this week, but he was slowed by a groin injury, writes Mike Hlas of The Iowa Gazette.

Garza, who ranks 53rd on ESPN’s big board, was forced to sit out the combine scrimmages and was limited to athletic tests and shooting. His performances were among the worst in the shuttle run, sprint and vertical leap, but he was one of the most accurate shooters at the combine.

Garza calls himself “the best big-man shooter in the draft” and has dropped considerable weight as he prepares to turn pro. He is now 243 pounds after playing at 265 at Iowa and credits the change to hiring a dietitian and chef.

“I definitely know the criticisms about my game,” he said. “I’m trying to show I move better than they think. … To me, I welcome it. It’s a to-do list.”

There’s more from the combine:

  • Tennessee’s Keon Johnson has been “the biggest standout” at the event, according to Chase Hughes of NBC Sports. Johnson made headlines this week when he broke the combine record with a 48-inch vertical leap, and he recorded the third-fastest sprint time as well. Hughes notes that Johnson, who is ranked eighth overall by ESPN, has more than just athleticism to offer. He can score, rebound and defend and is working to improve his ball-handling and shooting range.
  • The measurements taken at the combine should help Florida State forward Scottie Barnes‘ chances of being selected in the top five, Hughes adds. Barnes is 6’8″ with a 7’3″ wingspan and has the third-largest hands in this year’s class. Hughes suggests the success of former Seminoles teammate Patrick Williams, who was taken at No. 4 last year by the Bulls, could also work to Barnes’ advantage.
  • Former G League Ignite star Jonathan Kuminga generated “positive buzz” at today’s pro day, tweets Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report.

Full List Of 2021 NBA Draft Combine Participants

The NBA has revealed via press release its list of 69 players who have been invited to next week’s draft combine in Chicago and who are expected to attend. The combine will take place from June 21-17.

While several of the prominent names at the top of the draft will opt to skip the event – most notably, presumed number one pick Cade Cunningham and Gonzaga’s Jalen Suggs – there are several high-profile prospects set to attend. Evan Mobley, widely considered a likely choice for the No. 2 pick as well as potential top-five picks Jonathan Kuminga and Jalen Green headline the class of participants this year, along with potential lottery picks Moses Moody, Corey Kispert and Scottie Barnes.

According to the press release, players will conduct interviews with NBA teams, participate in five-on-five games, and go through shooting, strength and agility drills throughout the week-long event. It’s likely that the more high-profile names will focus more on the interviews than the drills.

The press release also confirms that a select number of standout players from the G League Elite Camp will be invited to participate in the Combine as well.

Here’s the full list of 69 names announced by the NBA today, in alphabetical order:

  1. Max Abmas, G, Oral Roberts (sophomore)
  2. Ochai Agbaji, G, Kansas (junior)
  3. Marcus Bagley, F, Arizona State (freshman)
  4. Scottie Barnes, F, Florida State (freshman)
  5. Charles Bassey, C, Western Kentucky (junior)
  6. Brandon Boston Jr., G/F, Kentucky (freshman)
  7. James Bouknight, G, UConn (sophomore)
  8. Greg Brown, F, Texas (freshman)
  9. Jared Butler, G, Baylor (junior)
  10. Julian Champagnie, G/F, St. John’s (sophomore)
  11. Justin Champagnie, G/F, Pittsburgh (sophomore)
  12. Josh Christopher, G, Arizona State (freshman)
  13. Sharife Cooper, G, Auburn (freshman)
  14. Ayo Dosunmu, G, Illinois (junior)
  15. David Duke, G, Providence (junior)
  16. Kessler Edwards, F, Pepperdine (junior)
  17. Luka Garza, C, Iowa (senior)
  18. RaiQuan Gray, F, Florida State (junior)
  19. Jalen Green, G, G League Ignite (auto-eligible)
  20. Quentin Grimes, G, Houston (junior)
  21. Sam Hauser, F, Virginia (senior)
  22. Aaron Henry, G/F, Michigan State (junior)
  23. Ariel Hukporti, C, Lithuania (born 2002)
  24. Matthew Hurt, F, Duke (sophomore)
  25. Nah’Shon Hyland, G, VCU (sophomore)
  26. Isaiah Jackson, F, Kentucky (freshman)
  27. David Johnson, G, Louisville (sophomore)
  28. Jalen Johnson, F, Duke (freshman)
  29. Keon Johnson, G, Tennessee (freshman)
  30. Herb Jones, F, Alabama (senior)
  31. Kai Jones, F, Texas (sophomore)
  32. Johnny Juzang, G/F, UCLA (sophomore)
  33. Corey Kispert, F, Gonzaga (senior)
  34. Jonathan Kuminga, F, G League Ignite (auto-eligible)
  35. Scottie Lewis, G, Florida (sophomore)
  36. Isaiah Livers, F, Michigan (senior)
  37. Makur Maker, C, Howard (freshman)
  38. Sandro Mamukelashvili, F/C, Seton Hall (senior)
  39. Tre Mann, G, Florida (sophomore)
  40. Matthew Mayer, G/F, Baylor (junior)
  41. Miles McBride, G, West Virginia (sophomore)
  42. Davion Mitchell, G, Baylor (junior)
  43. Evan Mobley, F/C, USC (freshman)
  44. Isaiah Mobley, F, USC (sophomore)
  45. Moses Moody, G, Arkansas (freshman)
  46. Trey Murphy III, G, Virginia (junior)
  47. Daishen Nix, G, G League Ignite (auto-eligible)
  48. John Petty Jr., G, Alabama (senior)
  49. Yves Pons, G/F, Tennessee (senior)
  50. Jason Preston, G, Ohio (junior)
  51. Joshua Primo, G, Alabama (freshman)
  52. Roko Prkacin, F, Croatia (born 2002)
  53. Neemias Queta, C, Utah State (junior)
  54. Austin Reaves, G, Oklahoma (senior)
  55. Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, F, Villanova (sophomore)
  56. Terrence Shannon Jr., G/F, Texas Tech (sophomore)
  57. Day’Ron Sharpe, F/C, North Carolina (freshman)
  58. Jericho Sims, F/C, Texas (senior)
  59. Jaden Springer, G, Tennessee (freshman)
  60. DJ Steward, G, Duke (freshman)
  61. Cameron Thomas, G, LSU (freshman)
  62. JT Thor, F, Auburn (freshman)
  63. Isaiah Todd, F, G League Ignite (auto-eligible)
  64. Trendon Watford, F, LSU (sophomore)
  65. Joe Wieskamp, G/F, Iowa (junior)
  66. Ziaire Williams, F, Stanford (freshman)
  67. McKinley Wright IV, G, Colorado (senior)
  68. Moses Wright, F, Georgia Tech (senior)
  69. Marcus Zegarowski, G, Creighton (junior)

Draft Notes: McClung, Tiebreakers, Seniors, Mballa

Texas Tech guard Mac McClung has hired an agent and will remain in the draft, Jonathan Givony of ESPN reports.

McClung decided to test the draft waters last month while concurrently placing his name in the transfer portal. He averaged 15.5 PPG, 2.7 RPG and 2.1 APG for the Red Raiders. McClung, who spent two seasons at Georgetown, had two years of eligibility remaining.

He’s signing with Dan Poneman of Beyond Athlete Management but he has an uphill climb to get drafted. He’s not currently listed among ESPN’s Top 100 Best Available players.

“I just felt the timing was right for me to go all-in,” McClung said.

We have more draft news:

  • The coin flips to determine the tiebreakers in this year’s draft order will be conducted next Tuesday, Givony tweets. Those flips include the Cavaliers and Thunder for the fourth and fifth spots; the Magic, Pelicans and Kings for the Nos. 8-10 spots; the Hornets and Spurs at No. 11, if both lose their play-in games or make the playoffs; the Wizards and Pacers at No. 13, if both miss or make the playoffs; the Knicks and Hawks for spots No. 19 and 20; the Rockets, Lakers and Knicks for Nos. 21-23; and the Clippers and Nuggets for the 25th and 26th positions. For more info on the lottery standings and draft order, check out our comprehensive breakdown here.
  • Approximately 100 college seniors have filed as early-entry candidates, Givony writes in a separate story. The “preliminary early-entry list” includes only college seniors, allowing NBA teams an extra two weeks to conduct due diligence on that group of players. The list includes some high-profile playes such as Iowa’s Luka Garza, Gonzaga’s Corey Kispert, Oregon’s Chris Duarte, Oklahoma’s Austin Reaves and Loyola Chicago’s Cameron Krutwig, Givony adds. The full early-entry list will be released at the beginning of next month.
  • University of Buffalo forward Josh Mballa has declared his intention to test the draft waters while maintaining his college eligibility, according to a school press release. Mballa was named the Mid-American Conference Defensive Player of the Year while finishing second on the team in scoring at 15.3 PPG and leading the Bulls in rebounding at 10.8 RPG.

And-Ones: Garza, Robinson, USA Basketball, G League

Luka Garza projects as a second-unit center who can beat up reserve bigs with his offensive skills, according to ESPN’s Jonathan Givony and Mike Schmitz (Insider link). While Garza is the most dominant scorer in college basketball this season, his defensive limitations will prove problematic at the next level. A best-case scenario would be for Garza to develop into an Enes Kanter-type player. ESPN currently ranks Garza as the 46th-best prospect in this year’s draft.

We have more from around the basketball world:

  • Former No. 5 pick Thomas Robinson has parted ways with Bahcesehir in Turkey, he told JD Shaw of Hoops Rumors (Twitter link). It’s a matter of seeking another opportunity, with the 29-year-old looking to return to playing as soon as possible. He played 313 NBA games with six teams in 2012-17.
  • USA Basketball is planning to create a “bubble” in Las Vegas for Team USA, Australia and Spain where they can train and play exhibition games against one another prior to the Tokyo Olympics, Brian Windhorst of ESPN reports. Team USA is tentatively planning to open training camp the week of July 4 while the NBA playoffs are ongoing.
  • USA Basketball has petitioned the U.S. Olympic Committee, the IOC and FIBA — which runs the Olympic basketball tournament —  to change the rules for when rosters for the Games must be submitted, Windhorst adds in the same report. Normally, the rosters must be set several weeks in advance but the NBA playoffs may not end until three days prior to Team USA’s first Olympic game.
  • Greensboro Swarm head coach Jay Hernandez provides details in a HoopsHype post on how his team is preparing for the G League season in Orlando while under quarantine.

And-Ones: Draft, Robinson, NBA Foundation, Bubbles

There was some surprise around the NBA that so many college early entrants decided to withdraw from the 2020 draft before Monday’s deadline, according to Jeremy Woo of SI.com. As Woo observes, the 2021 draft class is widely viewed as stronger than 2020’s, and the ’20/21 college season remains somewhat in flux, given the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Still, Woo acknowledges that the stability of returning to a college program was likely appealing for many of those prospects who withdrew, especially since we also don’t yet know what the NBA and G League schedules will look like for ’20/21.

Elsewhere on the draft front, Jonathan Givony of ESPN (Insider link) has updated his 2021 mock draft to account for recent early entrant decisions. Prospects such as Corey Kispert (Gonzaga), Isaiah Joe (Arkansas), Trendon Watford (LSU), and Luka Garza (Iowa), who recently pulled out of the 2020 draft pool, now show up in the second round of Givony’s mock for next year.

Here are more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Former No. 5 overall pick Thomas Robinson has parted ways with Khimki Moscow, his team in Russia, as Ennio Terrasi Borghesan of Sportando relays. Robinson appeared in 313 games for six NBA teams after being drafted in 2012, but hasn’t been on an NBA roster since being cut by Atlanta before the 2018/19 season.
  • The NBA announced today that its Board of Governors – in partnership with the NBPA – will contribute $300MM over the next 10 years to a new, league-wide charitable foundation called the NBA Foundation, which is “dedicated to creating greater economic empowerment in the Black community.”
  • Jason Lloyd of The Athletic takes an interesting look at what the “bubble” sports leagues are getting right and what lessons can be learned from the experiments, which have been a success so far.

Draft Notes: Garza, Mike, Thompson, Ross, Crutcher

Iowa star Luka Garza has withdrawn from the NBA Draft and is set to return with the Hawkeyes for his senior season, he announced on social media Sunday.

Garza is an early frontrunner for National Player of the Year, with the 21-year-old center hoping that his team can compete for a championship next season. He averaged 23.9 points and 9.8 rebounds per game this season, leading the Hawkeyes to a 20-11 record.

“My heart is in Iowa City,” Garza said in a statement. “I love this place too much to leave it. I love my teammates, coaches, community, fans and university. I don’t care how many games we were able to play, I want to be here and wear IOWA across my chest one more time. It would have been too hard to close the book without the last chapter. I have decided to return to the University of Iowa for my senior season.”

Here are some other draft-related notes tonight:

  • SMU junior Isiaha Mike has signed with Chemnitz in the German BBL, agent Adam Papas told Jonathan Givony of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Mike will decide on October 6 whether to stay in the 2020 NBA Draft, Goodman notes. “Isiaha has a child that he was ready to provide for,” Papas said. “He feels like a year of pro development gets him closer to a NBA roster next season either via a draft and stash this season or being in next year’s draft. There’s too much uncertainty with the G League/2-ways.”
  • Oregon State swingman Ethan Thompson has withdrawn from the NBA Draft and is set to return to school, Jeff Goodman of ESPN tweets. Thompson averaged 14.8 points, 4.2 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game this season.
  • Pepperdine guard Colbey Ross is withdrawing from the draft, he told Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports (Twitter link). Ross held per-game averages of 20.5 points and 7.2 assists last season, shooting 40 percent from the field and 35% from deep.
  • Dayton guard Jalen Crutcher will return for his senior season and withdraw from the draft, as relayed by David Jablonski of the Dayton Daily News (Twitter link). Crutcher averaged a career-high 15.1 points this past season, raising his shooting percentage to 47%.

Draft Notes: Tilmon, M. Smith, Early Entrants

After Missouri guard Xavier Pinson announced earlier this week that he was pulling out of the 2020 NBA draft to return to school for another year, a pair of his teammates who had been testing the waters have followed suit.

According to Mizzou Hoops (Twitter link), forwards Jeremiah Tilmon and Mitchell Smith are also returning to the Tigers for their senior seasons in 2020/21.

Neither Tilmon nor Smith was a full-time starter at Missouri this past season. Tilmon averaged 8.2 PPG and 4.4 RPG in 17 games (19.9 MPG), while Smith recorded 5.1 PPG and 4.9 RPG in 30 games (21.9 MPG). They’ll each play one more season in college before becoming automatically draft-eligible in 2021.

Here’s more on the draft:

  • NCAA prospects who are testing the draft waters have until August 3 to decide whether or not to withdraw. As Jeff Goodman of Stadium writes, many players still weighing their decisions would like more time, given the uncertainty surrounding the 2020/21 NCAA season and the lack of an NBA combine so far. “It would definitely help (to extend the withdrawal deadline),” Iowa’s Luka Garza said. “The last week has been very stressful mentally thinking about it all. I don’t know what to do.”
  • Bryan Kalbrosky of HoopsHype takes a closer look at Garza and several other prospects who are still testing the waters, examining whether or not it makes sense for them to stay in the draft.
  • The Athletic’s beat writers for the Knicks, Hawks, Warriors, Pistons, and Cavaliers conducted a mini-mock draft for the first five picks, based on a Tankathon simulation. The results were interesting, with Mike Vorkunov taking Anthony Edwards for New York at No. 1, Chris Kirschner selecting Deni Avdija for Atlanta at No. 2, and LaMelo Ball slipping to Detroit at No. 4.
  • Bryant guard Benson Lin has decided to forgo his remaining NCAA eligibility and play professionally in China next season, a source tells Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports (Twitter link). Lin could technically still enter this year’s draft, since the entry deadline has been pushed back. However, he can go pro without doing so, and Rothstein’s report doesn’t mention the draft.