Makur Maker

And-Ones: Maker, Odds, Williams, Allen

Makur Maker has signed with Australia’s Sydney Kings, according to Alessandro Maggi of Sportando. The 6’11” Maker, who attended Howard University last season, withdrew from this year’s draft but missed the NCAA’s withdrawal deadline. He’ll join the NBL’s Next Stars program with the aim of improving his draft stock.

“I can’t wait to learn from Luc Longley and Andrew Bogut, probably the best two big men in Australian basketball history who both were NBA champions,” he said. “Furthermore, under the leadership of our head coach Chase Buford, who is also of NBA championship background, and the front office with the CEO Chris Pongrass who was with the Memphis Grizzlies, I feel that this is my best pathway to becoming an NBA lottery pick next year.”

We have more from the basketball world:

  • Following the schedule release on Friday, the Nets were listed by Caesars Sportsbook as the favorite to win the most regular-season games, David Purdum of ESPN relays. Brooklyn’s projected odds are 54.5 victories, just ahead of the Bucks (53.5), Lakers (51.5), Jazz (51.5) and Sixers (51.5). The Pistons (25.5), Magic (23.5) and Thunder (22.5) sit at the bottom of the projected wins list.
  • Former NBA forward Johnathan Williams has signed with Italy’s Dolomiti Energia Trento, Sportando relays. He played with Germany’s Niners Chemnitz last season. Williams appeared in 15 games for the Wizards in 2019/20 and 24 for the Lakers in 2018/19.
  • Hall-of-Famer Ray Allen has decided to become a prep coach, according to The Associated Press. Allen has been hired as the director of boys and girls basketball at Miami’s Gulliver Prep, and will also coach the boys varsity team.

Draft Notes: Green Room Invites, Makur, Taylor, Draft Intel

The NBA has finalized the list of 20 prospects who will be invited to the Green Room on draft night, writes ESPN’s Jonathan Givony. While 15 of the names had already been reported, the final five players were identified over the last two days: Chris Duarte, Cameron Thomas, Isaiah Jackson, Alperen Sengun and Ziaire Williams will round out the group.

While an invitation to the Green Room is no guarantee of being drafted in the top 20, the decision is considered to be an indication of teams’ thinking, as the invitations are determined through a series of conversations with general managers and a voting process where teams vote on the 25 prospects most likely to have their name called first, Givony writes.

We have more news from around the draft world:

  • Howard University’s Makur Maker has withdrawn from the draft, tweets draft analyst Chad Ford. The 6’11 forward flashed versatility at the NBA Combine, but his draft stock was still hazy. Because he missed the NCAA’s withdrawal deadline, Maker will likely pursue professional options, whether in the G League, Australia’s NBL, or elsewhere.
  • Terry Taylor worked out with the Bucks yesterday and the Nuggets today, tweets Adam Zagoria of Forbes. Taylor has workouts lined up with the Nets, Cavaliers and Mavericks this week, and already worked out for the Knicks, Warriors, Kings, Pacers, Grizzlies, Bulls, Spurs and Pelicans. The 6’5″ wing led the country in double-doubles, Zagoria notes.
  • Sports Illustrated’s Jeremy Woo released his latest mock draft today, sharing some pieces of intel gathered from sources. Within his mock, Woo confirms that the prevailing notion is that the Rockets prefer Jalen Green to Evan Mobley, that the Thunder are being increasingly linked to James Bouknight, that the Magic covet Scottie Barnes, and that Jonathan Kuminga‘s range seems to be settling around six-to-eight, rather than being a top-five pick.

Northwest Notes: Blazers, Nuggets, Jazz, SGA

When president of basketball operations Neil Olshey told reporters last month that the Trail Blazers investigated the sexual assault allegations levied in 1997 against new head coach Chauncey Billups and came away confident Billups hadn’t engaged in wrongdoing, he declined to offer any details on that inquiry. Olshey simply asked fans and the media to trust that the team had thoroughly investigated the situation.

However, a new report from Conrad Wilson and Tony Schick of Oregon Public Broadcasting calls into question just how exhaustive the Trail Blazers’ investigation was. According to Wilson and Schick, the attorney for Jane Doe (Billups’ accuser) said the Blazers didn’t contact her or her client.

“It’s news to us that they conducted an investigation,” attorney Margaret A. Burnham said.

The Blazers’ review didn’t obtain information directly from several primary sources, per the OPB’s report. That doesn’t necessarily meant the team’s conclusion about Billups’ involvement in the 1997 incident was inaccurate, but it suggests that the franchise may not have done everything it could to get the full story.

Whether the latest revelation results in any blowback for Olshey remains to be seen, as Sean Highkin of Bleacher Report tweets. Either way, the fact that the story continues to create PR problems for the club doesn’t reflect well on the Blazers or their head of basketball operations.

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • Alex Labidou of Nuggets.com provides some takeaways on the prospects that the Nuggets brought in for pre-draft workouts on Monday and Tuesday this week. Tuesday’s group included Chudier Bile (Georgetown), Carlik Jones (Louisville), Makur Maker (Howard), MaCio Teague (Baylor), Arnas Velicka (Lithuania), Moses Wright (Georgia Tech). Details on Monday’s group can be found here.
  • The Jazz‘s biggest problems in the postseason were a lack of depth and a lack of versatility, writes Sarah Todd of The Deseret News, noting that the team figures to face some difficult roster decisions this offseason as it looks for ways to improve.
  • There have been no reports stating that the Thunder are thinking about trading Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, but some writers have put the 23-year-old in hypothetical trades that Oklahoma City could offer to move up in the draft. Responding to those suggestions, Ross Lovelace of Daily Thunder argues that Oklahoma City should be building around Gilgeous-Alexander, not considering moving him.

Draft Notes: Juzang, Abmas, Last-Minute Decisions

After leading UCLA to the Final Four, Johnny Juzang will withdraw from the NBA draft and return for his junior season. Juzang announced his decision on Twitter about an hour before the NCAA’s Wednesday deadline of midnight Eastern Time for early entrants to pull out of the draft and retain their eligibility.

“Going through the draft process has been an amazing experience,” he wrote. “I was blessed to connect with great people, learn and grow, and get a feel for life at the next level. I want to thank everyone who has helped me in this process including my family, trainers, school and especially my dad who helped me for countless hours!”

There was talk that Juzang might be a first-round pick after an outstanding performance in the NCAA tournament, but a disappointing showing at the combine hurt his status, according to Chad Ford (Twitter link), who speculates that he could be back in first-round consideration next year.

There’s more on last-minute draft decisions:

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.

Draft Notes: Early Entrant Decisions, Grimes, Henry, Pacers, More

Justin Bean (Utah State), Eric Ayala (Maryland), Jeenathan Williams (Buffalo), Latrell Jones (Portland), Quentin Scott (Texas State), and De’Vion Harmon (Oklahoma) are all withdrawing from the 2021 NBA draft after testing the waters as early entrants, according to a series of reports from Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports and Jeff Goodman of Stadium (all six links go to Twitter).

Of those six players, three will transfer, with Jones heading to Nicholls State, Scott making the move to Tulane, and Harmon going to Oregon.

Meanwhile, Texas big man Jericho Sims, who boosted his stock with a strong showing at last week’s combine, will remain in the draft. Klutch Sports published a tweet today welcoming Sims to the agency. UCLA’s Chris Smith is also expected to go pro, per Goodman (Twitter link).

Here’s more on the draft:

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: Maker, Hamilton, Riley, Green

Howard University freshman big man Makur Maker has declared for the draft but hasn’t hired an agent, leaving open the possibility of returning to college, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports. Maker, 20, played only two games for the Bison last season because of a groin injury, averaging 11.5 PPG, 6.0 RPG and 2.0 APG. The team played only five games before the university shut down the season due of COVID-19 issues. Maker is listed at No. 100 on ESPN’s Best Available list.

We have more draft decisions and news:

  • UNLV’s Bryce Hamilton will remain in the draft process but plans to return to school, Jeff Goodman of Stadium tweets. The Rebels guard averaged 17.9 PPG, 6.0 RPG and 3.0 APG last season as a junior.
  • UCLA’s Cody Riley will also enter the draft while retaining his college eligibility, Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports tweets. Riley, a junior forward, had 14 points, 10 rebounds and five assists against Gonzaga in the Final Four. In 31 starts last season, he averaged 10 PPG and 5.4 RPG. “I’ve encouraged Cody to take advantage of this time and this evaluation process. I know that he wants to see where he fits at the next level and where he needs to improve,” coach Mick Cronin told the Associated Press.
  • Cade Cunningham sits atop Jonathan Wasserman’s big board but the Bleacher Report analyst has a mild surprise in the No. 2 slot, with Jalen Green ranking above Evan Mobley. Jalen Suggs is a close fourth in Wasserman’s rankings.

Jared Butler, Aaron Henry Among Prospects Withdrawing From Draft

A pair of early-entry prospects who were ranked within the top 60 on ESPN’s big board have pulled out of the draft in advance of Monday’s withdrawal deadline.

Baylor guard Jared Butler was one of those two players, announcing in a Twitter video on Monday morning that he has decided to return to the Bears for his junior year. Butler explained his decision in a conversation with ESPN’s Jonathan Givony.

“After going through this process, making an important decision for the rest of my life, I truly felt like I couldn’t go wrong with either decision,” Butler said. “It came down to making the most out of my development as a player and as an adult. In the end I felt like coming back to school would set me up in both aspects in a way that I couldn’t deny. Even though the opportunity to reach my dream of playing in the NBA was readily at hand, I think next year it will still be there, possibly even with greater opportunities.”

Butler emerged as Baylor’s leading scorer in 2019/20 as a sophomore, averaging 16.0 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 3.1 APG, and 1.6 SPG in 30 games (30.4 MPG). He also showed improvement on his outside shot, making 38.1% of 6.7 three-point attempts per contest. He came in at No. 46 on Givony’s top-100 list at ESPN.com, making him a strong candidate to be drafted had he decided to go pro.

Meanwhile, Michigan State swingman Aaron Henry has also decided to withdraw from the draft after testing the waters, as Givony writes in a separate story. Henry had been the No. 55 prospect on ESPN’s big board.

Henry’s numbers as a sophomore in 2019/20 were somewhat modest — 10.0 PPG, 4.6 RPG, and 2.9 APG in 30 games (29.1 MPG). However, Givony describes him as a “long, athletic wing with strong two-way potential” and points out that he’s in position to take on a larger role for a Spartans team that won’t have Cassius Winston back next season.

“Cassius leaves big shoes to fill. He was asked to do everything for Michigan State,” Henry told ESPN. “I’m hoping to step into a bigger role with the ball in my hands. Things will definitely look different. Everyone is going to need to step up and be a piece to the puzzle. NBA teams want to see me in a bigger role. They want to see me be the man on a team. I’m not afraid of that. Let’s get to it.”

Here are a few more early entrants who tested the waters and have now pulled out of the draft ahead of Monday’s withdrawal deadline:

And-Ones: Maker, Lawson, Mills, Zion

Makur Maker spurned traditional college powerhouses to attend Howard University, but he may not be there long, Adam Zagoria of Forbes.com relays. The 6’11” Maker, cousin of Pistons center Thon Maker, admitted on ESPN’s First Take talk show that he may only be there one season.

“We’ll see how the future goes but if you’re a one-and-done talent, why not leave? That’s how I look at,” he said. “My ultimate goal is to play in the NBA and if that’s going to take me a year, I’m definitely all for it. If it’s going to take me two years, I’m definitely all for it. I know I’m an NBA lottery talent.”

We have more from around the basketball world:

  • Duke is closing in on Celtics assistant coach Kara Lawson as its new women’s basketball head coach, according to The News & Observer’s Steve Wiseman. Lawson, a former WNBA star and ESPN analyst, traveled with the Celtics to the Orlando campus this week. She would replace Joanne P. McCallie, who resigned this month after 13 years with the Blue Devils.
  • Spurs guard Patty Mills plans to donate his game checks during the league’s restart to social justice organizations, Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News writes. “I’m playing in Orlando because I don’t want to leave any money on the table that could be going directly to Black communities,” Mills said.
  • According to a federal court filing, Zion Williamson‘s stepfather allegedly solicited and accepted a $400K payment from a marketing agent in October 2018 prior to his season at Duke, according to ESPN’s Mark Schlabach. If true, Williamson would have been ineligible to play for the Blue Devils. The court motion and sworn affidavit was filed by his former marketing representative’s attorneys. Prime Sports Marketing sued Williamson and Creative Artists Agency for $100MM in state court in Florida for Williamson’s alleged breaching of their marketing agreement and signing with CAA.