Nico Mannion

Eastern Notes: Raptors Draft, Galloway, McConnell, Bulls

With the potential loss of Fred VanVleet in free agency and Kyle Lowry turning 34 this year, the Raptors could be in the market for a point guard in this year’s draft. With that in mind, Blake Murphy of The Athletic takes a look at floor leaders that the club could target with its late first-round pick. Duke’s Tre Jones, Stanford’s Tyrell Terry and Arizona’s Nico Mannion are some of the prospects that Murphy examines.

We have more from around the Eastern Conference:

  • Pistons guard Langston Galloway, who is headed into unrestricted free agency, has “no regrets” about this season regardless of whether his team gets to play again, he told Rod Beard of the Detroit News. Galloway was the only player on the team to appear in every game and established himself as a solid second-unit shooter. “If we didn’t get to finish, I would say I had a great season and move on to the summer workouts,” he said. “I played in every single game, so I put my work on display every single game and the work I continue to put on display. I have no regrets going into the summer.”
  • Free agents T.J. McConnell, Justin Holiday and Alize Johnson are likely to remain with the Pacers next season, Scott Agness of The Athletic opines. McConnell and Holiday are solid reserves, while Johnson still has some upside. JaKarr Sampson is the only free agent that Indiana probably won’t re-sign, Agness adds.
  • The Bulls’ lottery chances could be jeopardized if they’re included in plans to resume the season, K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago opines. Chicago is currently seventh in the draft lottery standings, giving it a 32% chance at a top-four pick and a 7.5% chance at the No. 1 pick, Johnson notes. If the Bulls got hot during the resumption of play and even advanced in a revised playoff format, those odds would drop.

Draft Notes: Mannion, McDaniels, Burke, Olaniyi

The NBA has yet to make any official announcements on its draft date, but there’s a wide belief that the current June 25 date will be pushed back. According to Marc Berman of The New York Post, league sources “are hearing about” a potential draft date in late August or early September. Some agents have been told there could be a scaled-down draft combine in August, with live interviews, Berman adds.

Of course, at this point, the NBA isn’t making any concrete plans, so those are scenarios that have been discussed rather than decided upon. The draft date will depend in large part on when the 2019/20 NBA season ends — if the league devises a plan that would see its Finals run into September, a late-August draft may not be viable.

As we wait for further word from the NBA, here are some more draft-related updates:

  • Projected first-round pick Nico Mannion has signed with BDA Sports for representation, the agency announced on Instagram (hat tip to Sportando). BDA doesn’t have any NCAA-certified agents, so the move is a signal that Mannion will go pro and remain in the draft.
  • Another projected first-rounder, Jaden McDaniels, has signed with Nima Namakian of BDA Sports for representation and will remain in the draft, tweets Evan Daniels of 247Sports.com.
  • Rather than transferring to South Alabama, Nebraska junior guard Dachon Burke has decided to go pro and will remain in the draft, he tells Jeff Goodman of Stadium (Twitter link). Burke has signed with agent Corey Marcum of EZ Sports.
  • Stony Brook is expected to lose junior swingman Elijah Olaniyi, who is testing the draft waters, tweets Goodman. Olaniyi hasn’t finalized any decisions yet, but is expected to either transfer to another program or remain in the draft, according to Goodman.

Potential Lottery Pick Nico Mannion Declares For Draft

Arizona freshman point guard Nico Mannion is entering the 2020 NBA draft class, as he tells Jonathan Givony of ESPN. Wildcats head coach Sean Miller said last month that Mannion would enter the draft, but his father clarified at the time that a decision hadn’t yet been finalized — now it has.

Mannion, who started 32 games for Arizona as a freshman, averaged 14.0 PPG, 5.3 APG, and 1.2 SPG with a .392/.327/.797 shooting line. He ranks 14th overall on ESPN’s big board, with Mike Schmitz praising his scoring, play-making, demeanor, and ability to make reads. Schmitz does note that the 19-year-old’s “lack of tools” may limit his defensive upside and that his shot needs to get more consistent.

Mannion tells ESPN that, despite the COVID-19 lockdown, he has access to a gym where he can train and shoot as he prepares for the draft.

“I’m just getting reps every day trying to perfect what I can perfect on and off the court, be it passing, ball-handling or ball-screen drills, and trying to get stronger,” Mannion said. “I’m working on extending my range. This time off gives us me an opportunity to get better. That’s where I have a little bit of an advantage. I’m watching a lot of film on Steve Nash and Chris Paul. How they use ball screens to get in the lane and finish with floaters.”

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.”

And-Ones: Mannion, Beilein, WNBA, Pitino

Arizona point guard Nico Mannion, one of the top college players in the country, has not made a decision on whether or not his first season as a Wildcat will be his last, despite reports to the contrary, per Sam Vecenie of The Athletic (Twitter link).

“He will make that decision after the season,” the 19-year-old’s father Pace Mannion told Vecenie on March 8. With the NCAA season officially canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, that determination may be coming up sooner than the Mannion family was anticipating.

There’s more from around the basketball world:

  • After resigning as Cavaliers head coach last month, John Beilein was hired as an analyst for the Big Ten Network studio team ahead of the anticipated start of the Big Ten Conference Tournament and March Madness, according to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. With the NCAA season canceled, Beilein may not have much to analyze for a while. Though Beilein is the winningest coach in Michigan basketball history, he struggled in the NBA, coaching the Cavaliers to a 14-40 record during 2019/20.
  • Rick Pitino will return to college coaching at Iona College, per Forbes’ Adam Zagoria.“My passion in basketball started in New York and will end there at Iona College,” Pitino said. Pitino has been coaching Greek EuroLeague club Panathinaikos since 2018. He last coached in the NCAA for the University of Louisville from 2001-2017.
  • WNBA executive director Terri Jackson spoke with Mark Medina of USA Today about the coronavirus and president Donald Trump’s travel ban precluding foreign nationals from traveling to the US from most European countries. Several WNBA players spend their offseasons overseas to supplement their earnings with more lucrative paydays from the international leagues. “Understanding [President Trump’s European] travel ban and understanding what came out of the White House is tough to grapple with,” Jackson told Medina.

And-Ones: Nogueira, Draft, Reese, Bosh

Lucas Nogueira, who appeared in 141 games for the Raptors over the course of four NBA seasons from 2014-18, recently spoke to Gustavo Faldon of ESPN Brazil about his battles with depression and alcohol. Nogueira, who returned to Spain – where he began his professional career – last year when his contract with Toronto expired, said he has been sober for three months, but admitted that his drinking habits were a problem earlier in his career.

“I went out a lot,” Nogueira said. “In Spain, we had one game per week. You’re young, you have some money and no limits. You would eventually find the party. It’s Europe. I had no work ethic whatsoever. When I went to the U.S. I saw that a 15-year-old kid had more discipline than I did. It is a cultural thing.”

Having returned to his home country of Brazil, Nogueira is currently training in Sao Paulo in the hopes of staying in shape and eventually earning tryouts with NBA teams.

“If you asked me the same question four months ago, I’d say I didn’t know,” Nogueira said when asked about a potential NBA comeback. “Now I say I will be back. What makes me so confident is my training and my attitude. I’m ready for the challenge like I’ve never been.”

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

  • With all but 16 teams eliminated from 2019’s NCAA tournament, ESPN’s Jonathan Givony and Mike Schmitz (Insider link) took a look at which players’ stocks increased or decreased over the last week. Besides obvious standouts like Zion Williamson and Ja Morant, the ESPN duo highlights impressive performances from Brandon Clarke (Gonzaga), Nassir Little (UNC), and Mfiondu Kabengele (FSU).
  • Former Canisius guard Isaiah Reese, who was suspended by the program in February for conduct detrimental to the team, informed the school that he’ll withdraw to seek representation and go pro (Twitter link). Reese tested the waters a year ago, but appears set to keep his name in the 2019 NBA draft class.
  • Chris Bosh will have his jersey retired this week with the Heat and is giving up on the idea of returning to the NBA as a player. He also has no plans to transition to a front office role in Miami – or for any other NBA team – anytime soon, as Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel details.
  • USA Basketball issued a press release today announcing the 12-man World Team roster for next month’s Nike Hoop Summit, which pits top high school prospects against one another. Josh Green and Nico Mannion, two of the top eight players on the ESPN100, headline the roster.