Boogie Ellis

Central Notes: Bird, Pacers, Pistons, Portis

Six players who participated in a pre-draft workout for the Pacers on Wednesday were surprised when a Hall of Famer showed up to watch them, writes Zion Brown of The Indianapolis Star. Larry Bird, who was hired as a consultant last June, walked into the gym to observe the prospects, who noticed his presence immediately.

“It’s exciting,” Oakland’s Jack Gohlke said. “Obviously (he’s) an NBA legend, and a guy who has been with the Pacers organization for forever and a legend with the Celtics, too. So I think it’s just really cool. … I would say it’s almost easier to play in front of a sold-out arena than to have these guys sitting courtside, but it’s still a really cool experience.”

Bird has worked for the Pacers in several capacities over the years, starting as head coach in 1997. Tyrese Haliburton and Isaiah Jackson also made an appearance on Wednesday, but the focus was on Bird, even though the players at the workout were all born well after his playing career ended.

“Once he walked in I was like, ‘I recognize him,’” UC-Santa Barbara’ Ajay Mitchell said. “It’s amazing to see him here. Working in front of him, it’s a great opportunity and it’s a blessing to have him around.”

Also participating in the workout were Yongxi Cui of China, Thijs de Ridder of Belgium, TCU’s Emanuel Miller and Michigan State’s Tyson Walker. Indiana owns picks 36, 49 and 50.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • The Pacers have another workout set for Thursday featuring Baylor’s Jalen Bridges, North Carolina State’s D.J. Burns Jr., West Virginia’s Jesse Edwards, Kentucky’s Antonio Reeves and Morehead State’s Kalil Thomas, the team announced (via Twitter). Indiana’s Xavier Johnson was a late replacement for USC’s Boogie Ellis (Twitter link).
  • New Pistons head of basketball operations Trajan Langdon has a challenge to try to fix an organization that has been sputtering for years, observes Bob Wojnowski of The Detroit News. Wojnowski blames owner Tom Gores, whom he accuses of meddling too often, as well as the people he has entrusted to run the franchise. He criticizes former general manager Troy Weaver for his roster construction, particularly his willingness to take on big men who failed elsewhere, and coach Monty Williams for his insistence on playing Killian Hayes and his misuse of Jaden Ivey early in the season.
  • Bobby Portis should be thrilled by the return of Darvin Ham to the Bucks‘ coaching staff, notes Christopher Kuhagen of The Journal-Sentinel. Kuhagen recalls that after Milwaukee was eliminated from the playoffs in 2023, Portis sent out a social media message that read, “Only thing hurt us was D ham leaving. That ain’t talked about enough.”

Southwest Notes: Irving, Doncic, Rockets, Spurs, Ellis

Luka Doncic blamed himself after the Mavericks lost on Sunday to fall behind 2-0 to the Celtics in the NBA Finals, pointing to his eight turnovers and four missed free throws. However, Doncic had 32 points, 11 rebounds, and 11 assists in that game, making 12-of-21 shots from the field. His backcourt mate Kyrie Irving scored just 16 points on 7-of-18 shooting and is now 13-of-37 from the floor in the series.

Ahead of Game 3, Irving said he let Doncic know that if anyone needs to step up and give the team more, it’s him, not Luka.

“It started with me just telling my hermano I got to play better for him, alongside him,” Irving said, per Tim MacMahon of ESPN. “In order for us to accomplish our goal, we both have to be playing well and we both have to be doing the little things, doing whatever it takes to win. Easy conversation. But it started with me reaching out, just letting him know it’s my fault, taking accountability for not playing particularly well.”

Irving noted that he has come back from a 2-0 deficit in the Finals before (in 2016 with Cleveland) and hinted that the move to Dallas for Game 3 may help him break out of his slump.

“Being back in Boston, there’s such a level of desire that I have inside of me to play well,” Irving said. “Wanted to be there for my teammates. As a competitor, it’s frustrating. But I don’t want to let that seep in or spill over to any other decisions I have to make there as a player.”

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

  • Prior to Game 2 of the NBA Finals, Doncic received a pain-killing injection to treat his thoracic contusion, according to Tim MacMahon and Malika Andrews of ESPN. The expectation is that the Mavericks star, who has also been dealing with a right knee sprain and left ankle soreness, will get another injection ahead of Game 3, sources tell ESPN. “I feel good,” Doncic told reporters on Tuesday when asked about his health. “I don’t want to get into any more details. But I feel good.”
  • In a YouTube video, cap expert Yossi Gozlan examines the Rockets‘ upcoming offseason decisions and their financial situation going forward, considering what they might do with rookie scale extension candidates Alperen Sengun and Jalen Green and outlining some hypothetical trade scenarios.
  • Former USC point guard Boogie Ellis worked out for the Spurs over the weekend, tweets Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News. Ellis is ranked 83rd overall on ESPN’s list of top-100 prospects, so he could be a target for the Spurs in the second round or as an undrafted free agent.

Draft Notes: Combine, Mocks, Holland, Trade Rumors, Osobor

Boogie Ellis (USC), Isaac Jones (Washington State), Jesse Edwards (West Virginia), Nae’Qwan Tomlin (Memphis), and Enrique Freeman (Akron) are among the prospects who stood out at the G League Elite Camp over the weekend and earned invitations to participate in the NBA’s combine this week, according to a series of tweets from Jonathan Givony of ESPN. The G League officially confirmed Givony’s reporting (Twitter link).

The combine got underway in Chicago on Monday, with all participants taking part in shooting drills and undergoing strength, agility, and performance testing.

Language in the NBA’s new Collective Bargaining Agreement requires all prospects to participate in those aspects of the combine, though they’re still permitted to opt out of this week’s scrimmages. Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report (Twitter link) identifies several of the fringe first-rounders who have decided to pass on scrimmaging, including Kyshawn George (Miami), Carlton Carrington (Pittsburgh), Kevin McCullar (Kansas), and Johnny Furphy (Kansas), among many others.

As Chase Hughes of Monumental Sports Network tweets, prospects whose international teams’ seasons haven’t ended are permitted to miss the combine, but those players – including Zaccharie Risacher of JL Bourg and Nikola Topic (Crvena Zvezda) – will be required to complete “pre-draft activities” at a later date.

Here are several more draft-related notes:

  • Wasserman, Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer, and Jonathan Givony and Jeremy Woo of ESPN.com updated their 2024 mock drafts following the conclusion of Sunday’s lottery to reflect the new order. All three mocks have the Hawks using the No. 1 overall pick on French big man Alexandre Sarr.
  • John Hollinger of The Athletic has shared his rankings of the top 20 prospects in the 2024 draft class, with plenty of choices that deviate from the consensus. Hollinger has G League Ignite guard Ron Holland at No. 1, with Sarr at No. 5 and Risacher (ESPN’s top prospect) all the way down at No. 13.
  • Zach Lowe of ESPN (Insider link) and Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports, two of the media members who were in the draft lottery drawing room on Sunday, share some behind-the-scenes observations from the event and consider what’s next for the teams most impacted by Sunday’s results. Sources tell Lowe that the Rockets (No. 3) and Grizzlies (No. 9) are expected to be among the teams that explore trade possibilities with their picks, though both teams could ultimately end up hanging onto their lottery selections. Meanwhile, Wizards general manager Will Dawkins told Fischer that he thinks “there are multiple All-Stars in this class.” Washington holds the No. 2 pick.
  • Coming off his junior year at Utah State, forward Great Osobor is testing the NBA draft waters, but it sounds like he’ll end up transferring to a new school for his senior year. According to Givony, Osobor has an NIL deal in place with Washington worth $2MM, which is the most lucrative known deal in college basketball this season.
  • A series of ESPN’s NBA reporters explore the biggest questions facing every lottery team.

Draft Notes: G League Elite Camp, Carrington, Edwards, George

The NBA has officially announced the list of invitees for its 2024 G League Elite Camp, which will take place this weekend in Chicago. The 45-player list is made up of some of the top prospects who didn’t earn invites to next week’s draft combine, though the standout performers at the Elite Camp will be invited to stick around for the combine.

There are a few differences between the final list of participants and the initial 44-player list of invitees. After previously reporting that Johnell Davis had turned down his invitation while Jaylen Wells had been upgraded to a combine invite, Jonathan Givony of ESPN tweets that three more players from the original list won’t take part: Spanish big man Eli Ndiaye, former Wisconsin wing AJ Storr, and Arizona guard KJ Lewis.

Ndiaye’s season with Real Madrid is still in progress, which explains his absence. Storr appears to be focused on transferring to Kansas, while Givony speculates that Lewis may also end up withdrawing from the draft to return to Arizona.

With those five players not attending the Elite Camp, the NBA invited six more prospects to round out the 45-player field. Those final six invitees are USC guard Boogie Ellis, Alabama guard Aaron Estrada, Florida guard Zyon Pullin, North Florida guard Chaz Lanier, New Mexico guard Jaelen House, and Cairns Taipans (Australia) guard Taran Armstrong.

Here’s more on the 2024 NBA draft:

  • In a story for HoopsHype, Michael Scotto looked at several prospects whose stock appears to be on the rise ahead of the combine, starting with Pittsburgh’s Carlton Carrington, who jumped 25 spots to No. 27 in HoopsHype’s latest aggregate mock draft. A number of NBA executives who spoke to Scotto believe Carrington could be selected in the 15-30 range. “I think he can handle the ball and has good size,” one exec said. “I don’t know if he can guard anybody on our level at his position. He didn’t showcase an ability to create shots for himself. He did a good job of passing the ball.”
  • Kentucky’s Justin Edwards, who entered last season with lottery upside, saw his stock drop over the course of an up-and-down freshman season, but it has bounced back as of late, according to Scotto, who notes that Edwards is now widely viewed as a borderline first-round pick. “Edwards is a little older for a freshman (20) and isn’t the most in-shape guy,” one scout told Scotto. “There’s a Shabazz Muhammad comparison with Edwards that some people may not want to hear. When he’s on, there’s a Rodney Hood comparison to be made. He’s fine. I think you can win basketball games with him as a role player.”
  • DaRon Holmes II (Dayton), Hunter Sallis (Wake Forest), Tristan Da Silva (Colorado), Trey Alexander (Creighton), and Kyshawn George (Miami) are among several other prospects identified by Scotto as trending up. “I think Kyshawn is pretty good,” a veteran scout told HoopsHype. “He’s young and skilled. He’s big at 6-foot-8, can shoot, and can handle it. He’s going to need some years, but you’d invest in him. I’d pick him higher than a lot of other guys because of his age. He’s impressed me.”

Draft Decisions: B. Ellis, Castaneda, Disu, Reed, More

USC guard Boogie Ellis is withdrawing from the 2022 NBA draft and returning to the Trojans next season, tweets Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports. After spending two seasons with Memphis, Ellis transferred to USC for his junior season and improved his numbers across the board, averaging 12.5 points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.4 assists on .417/.376/.798 shooting.

With the NCAA’s withdrawal deadline set for Wednesday night, several other early entrants have decided their plans for 2022/23. Here are some more draft decisions:

  • Akron guard Xavier Castaneda will also withdraw from the draft, a source tells Rothstein (Twitter link). Castaneda spent his first three seasons with South Florida prior to transferring to Akron, and like Ellis, he saw his statistics improve in his new program, averaging 13.6 points, 3.6, rebounds and 2.3 assists on .407/.373/.823 shooting in ’21/22. He’ll use his extra year of eligibility to return to the Zips next season.
  • Forward Dylan Disu is withdrawing from the draft and returning to Texas for his senior season, Rothstein tweets. Disu was highly productive as a sophomore for Vanderbilt in ’20/21, averaging 15 points, 9.2 rebounds, 1.1 steals and 1.2 blocks on .492/.369/.736 shooting, but underwent season-ending knee surgery prior to transferring to Texas. He never regained his rhythm for the Longhorns, averaging just 3.7 points and 3.2 rebounds in 10.9 minutes.
  • Eric Reed Jr., who spend his first two seasons with Southeast Missouri State, is withdrawing from the draft and transferring to Mississippi State, reports Jeff Goodman of Stadium (via Twitter). Reed averaged 16.1 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1 steal with a .419/.357/.815 shooting slash line last season.
  • Guard DeMarr Langford Jr. plans to withdraw from the draft and return to Boston College, per Goodman (Twitter link). Langford averaged 11.3 points, 4.8 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.1 steals on .456/.269/.670 shooting for the Eagles as a sophomore this past season.
  • Daylen Kountz is withdrawing from the draft in order to use his extra year of college eligibility, he told Goodman (Twitter link). The 6’4″ guard averaged 21.2 points, 4.6 rebounds and 2.6 assists on an impressive shooting line of .512/.421/.823 for Northern Colorado in ’21/22. He’ll return to the Bears next season.
  • USC forward Isaiah Mobley will remain in the draft, his father told Rothstein (Twitter link). Mobley averaged 14.3 points, 8.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists as a junior for the Trojans last season. The news was anticipated, as he was expected to keep his name in the draft. He’s the only player ranked on ESPN’s big board among the players listed here, but at No. 98, he’s unlikely to be drafted. Still, there’s a chance he could catch on as an undrafted free agent, perhaps on a two-way deal. Mobley is the older brother of Cavaliers big man Evan Mobley, the No. 3 pick of the 2021 draft.

Central Notes: LaVine, Pacers Workouts, White, Pistons Draft

Zach LaVine‘s decision to have knee surgery in the offseason shows his commitment to the game and the Bulls, according to NBC Sports Chicago’s K.C. Johnson. LaVine’s decision to play through his knee injury this season with Chicago heading to the playoffs proved how much he wanted to experience the postseason for himself and give his teammates a chance to do the same. He’ll still get paid this summer in unrestricted free agency, likely a maximum deal, Johnson adds.

We have more on the Central Division:

NBA Announces Initial Early Entrant List For 2022 Draft

The NBA has officially released the initial list of early entrants for the 2022 NBA draft, announcing in a press release that 283 players have filed as early entry candidates. Of those prospects, 247 are from colleges, while 36 are international early entrants.

Those are big numbers, but they fall well short of the 353 early entrants who initially declared for the draft a year ago. Beginning in 2021, the NCAA granted players an extra year of eligibility due to the coronavirus pandemic, resulting in seniors having to decide between staying at college for one more season or declaring for the draft as an “early” entrant.

That tweak to the NCAA’s eligibility rules has increased the number of total early entrants due to the influx of seniors into the pool. However, as Jonathan Givony of ESPN observes (via Twitter), the number of college non-seniors (123) on the initial early entry list this year is actually the lowest since 2016, while the number of international prospects (36) is the lowest since 2014.

This year’s total of 283 early entrants figures to shrink significantly by June 1 and again by June 13, the two deadlines for players to withdraw their names from the draft pool. But it still looks like the pool will remain extremely crowded, with the eventual number of early entrants certain to exceed 58, the number of picks in the draft.

Our tracker of early entrants for the 2022 draft is fully up to date and can be found right here.

Here are the changes we made to our tracker today:


Newly-added players:

College players:

These players either didn’t publicly announce that they were entering the draft or we simply missed it when they did.

International players:

These players weren’t previously mentioned on our list of international early entrants. The country listed here indicates where they last played, not necessarily where they were born.

Other notable draft-eligible early entrants:

The NBA sent its teams a list of 33 “also-eligible” names. That list isn’t public, but Jonathan Givony of ESPN (Twitter link) shared some of the most notable players on it, and we’ve added them to our early entrant tracker. They are as follows:

  1. Dominick Barlow, F, Overtime Elite
  2. MarJon Beauchamp, G/F, G League Ignite
  3. Dyson Daniels, G, G League Ignite
  4. Henri Drell, G/F, Windy City Bulls
  5. Michael Foster, F, G League Ignite
  6. Jaden Hardy, G, G League Ignite
  7. Makur Maker, C, Sydney Kings (formerly Howard Bison)
  8. Jean Montero, G, Overtime Elite
  9. Samson Ruzhentsev, G/F, Mega Basket (formerly Florida Gators)
  10. Kai Sotto, C, Adelaide 36ers (formerly G League Ignite)
  11. Zaire Wade, G, Salt Lake City Stars
  12. Kok Yat, F, Overtime Elite
  13. Fanbo Zeng, F, G League Ignite

Players removed:

Despite reports or announcements that the players below would declare for the draft, they didn’t show up on the NBA’s official list.

That could mean a number of things — they may have decided against entering the draft; they may have entered the draft, then withdrawn; they may have had no NCAA eligibility remaining, making them automatically draft-eligible; they may have incorrectly filed their paperwork; or the NBA may have accidentally omitted some names.

In any case, we’ve removed the following names from our early entrant list, at least for the time being.

Finally, Givony reports (via Twitter) that Canadian forward Leonard Miller, from the Fort Erie International Academy has been asked to fill out additional paperwork to finalize his entrance into the draft pool. According to Givony, there’s an expectation that Miller will be added to the list, so we’ve left him listed in our early entrant tracker among the international players.