Izan Almansa

NBA Announces 78 Invitees For 2024 Draft Combine

The NBA announced today (via Twitter) that 78 prospects have been invited to attend this year’s draft combine, which will take place in Chicago from May 12-19.

In addition to those 78 players, a handful of standout players from the G League Elite Camp, which is also held in Chicago just before the combine begins, are expected to receive invites to stick around for the main event.

Not all of the prospects invited to the combine will end up remaining in the 2024 draft pool, since some are early entrants who are testing the waters while retaining their NCAA eligibility. College players must withdraw from the draft by the end of the day on May 29 if they wish to preserve that eligibility, while non-college players face a decision deadline of June 16. The feedback they receive from NBA teams at the combine may be a deciding factor for players who are on the fence.

Here’s the list of players who have been invited to the 2024 draft combine:

(Note: For players in international leagues, the country listed is where they had been playing, not necessarily where they’re from.)

  1. Michael Ajayi, F, Pepperdine (junior)
  2. Melvin Ajinca, G/F, France (born 2004)
  3. Trey Alexander, G, Creighton (junior)
  4. Izan Almansa, F, G League Ignite (born 2005)
  5. Reece Beekman, G, Virginia (senior)
  6. Adem Bona, F/C, UCLA (sophomore)
  7. Trevon Brazile, F, Arkansas (sophomore)
  8. Jalen Bridges, F, Baylor (senior)
  9. Matas Buzelis, F, G League Ignite (born 2004)
  10. Carlton Carrington, G, Pitt (freshman)
  11. Devin Carter, G, Providence (junior)
  12. Stephon Castle, G, UConn (freshman)
  13. Ulrich Chomche, C, NBA Academy Africa (born 2005)
  14. Cam Christie, G, Minnesota (freshman)
  15. Nique Clifford, G, Colorado State (senior)
  16. Donovan Clingan, C, UConn (sophomore)
  17. Isaiah Collier, G, USC (freshman)
  18. Tristan Da Silva, F, Colorado (senior)
  19. Pacome Dadiet, G/F, Germany (born 2005)
  20. N’Faly Dante, C, Oregon (super-senior)
  21. Rob Dillingham, G, Kentucky (freshman)
  22. Nikola Djurisic, G/F, Serbia (born 2004)
  23. Ryan Dunn, F, Virginia (sophomore)
  24. Zach Edey, C, Purdue (senior)
  25. Justin Edwards, G/F, Kentucky (freshman)
  26. Kyle Filipowski, F/C, Duke (sophomore)
  27. Trentyn Flowers, G/F, Australia (born 2005)
  28. Johnny Furphy, G/F, Kansas (freshman)
  29. Kyshawn George, G/F, Miami (FL) (freshman)
  30. Tyon Grant-Foster, G, Grand Canyon (senior)
  31. PJ Hall, C, Clemson (senior)
  32. Coleman Hawkins, F, Illinois (senior)
  33. Ron Holland, F, G League Ignite (born 2005)
  34. DaRon Holmes II, F, Dayton (junior)
  35. Ariel Hukporti, C, Germany (born 2002)
  36. Oso Ighodaro, F, Marquette (senior)
  37. Harrison Ingram, F, UNC (junior)
  38. Bronny James, G, USC (freshman)
  39. A.J. Johnson, G, Australia (born 2004)
  40. Keshad Johnson, F, Arizona (super-senior)
  41. David Jones, F, Memphis (senior)
  42. Dillon Jones, F, Weber State (senior)
  43. Ryan Kalkbrenner, C, Creighton (senior)
    • Note: Kalkbrenner indicated this week that he intends to return to school, so it’s unclear if he’ll continue to go through the pre-draft process.
  44. Alex Karaban, F, UConn (sophomore)
  45. Bobi Klintman, F, Australia (born 2003)
  46. Dalton Knecht, G, Tennessee (super-senior)
  47. Tyler Kolek, G, Marquette (senior)
  48. Pelle Larsson, G, Arizona (senior)
  49. Jared McCain, G, Duke (freshman)
  50. Kevin McCullar, G, Kansas (super-senior)
  51. Yves Missi, C, Baylor (freshman)
  52. Ajay Mitchell, G, UC Santa Barbara (junior)
  53. Jonathan Mogbo, F/C, San Francisco (senior)
  54. Tristen Newton, G, UConn (super-senior)
  55. Juan Nunez, G, Germany (born 2004)
  56. Quinten Post, F/C, Boston College (super-senior)
  57. Antonio Reeves, G, Kentucky (super-senior)
  58. Zaccharie Risacher, F, France (born 2005)
  59. Jaxson Robinson, G/F, BYU (senior)
  60. Tidjane Salaun, F, France (born 2005)
  61. Hunter Sallis, G, Wake Forest (junior)
  62. Payton Sandfort, G/F, Iowa (junior)
  63. Alexandre Sarr, F/C, Australia (born 2005)
  64. Baylor Scheierman, G/F, Creighton (super-senior)
  65. Mark Sears, G, Alabama (senior)
  66. Terrence Shannon, G, Illinois (super-senior)
  67. Jamal Shead, G, Houston (senior)
  68. Reed Sheppard, G, Kentucky (freshman)
  69. KJ Simpson, G, Colorado (junior)
  70. Tyler Smith, F, G League Ignite (born 2004)
  71. Cam Spencer, G, UConn (super-senior)
  72. Nikola Topic, G, Serbia (born 2005)
  73. JT Toppin, F, New Mexico (freshman)
  74. Jaylon Tyson, G, California (junior)
  75. Ja’Kobe Walter, G, Baylor (freshman)
  76. Kel’el Ware, C, Indiana (sophomore)
  77. Jamir Watkins, G/F, Florida State (junior)
  78. Cody Williams, F, Colorado (freshman)

It’s worth noting that the NBA and the NBPA agreed to a few combine-related changes in their latest Collective Bargaining Agreement. Here are a few of those changes:

  • A player who is invited to the draft combine and declines to attend without an excused absence will be ineligible to be drafted. He would become eligible the following year by attending the combine. There will be exceptions made for a player whose FIBA season is ongoing, who is injured, or who is dealing with a family matter (such as a tragedy or the birth of a child).
  • Players who attend the draft combine will be required to undergo physical exams, share medical history, participate in strength, agility, and performance testing, take part in shooting drills, receive anthropometric measurements, and conduct interviews with teams and the media. Scrimmages won’t be mandatory.
  • Medical results from the combine will be distributed to select teams based on where the player is projected to be drafted. Only teams drafting in the top 10 would get access to medical info for the projected No. 1 pick; teams in the top 15 would receive medical info for players in the 2-6 range, while teams in the top 25 would get access to info for the players in the 7-10 range.

Regarding that last point, Jonathan Givony of ESPN (Twitter link) has the details on the top 10 played out this year, noting that the composite ranking was generated based on a combination of publicly available rankings and feedback from a panel of experts, as well as a retained-scouting service.

Sarr is considered the No. 1 overall prospect, per Givony, so only teams drafting in the top 10 will get access to his medicals. Buzelis, Castle, Clingan, Risacher, and Topic are in the 2-6 range, while Dillingham, Holland, Knecht, and Sheppard round out the top 10.

Izan Almansa, Jaxson Robinson Among Draft’s Latest Early Entrants

Izan Almansa, a 6’10” Spanish power forward, has announced on Instagram that he’s declaring for the 2024 NBA draft. Almansa came stateside in 2021 and spent two years with the Overtime Elite program before joining the G League Ignite for 2023/24.

Almansa appeared in 48 total Showcase Cup and regular season games for the Ignite, averaging 10.5 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 1.5 assists in 27.3 minutes per contest. He made 54.3% of his shots from the floor, but only attempted 35 three-pointers all season (he made seven) and hit just 54.0% of his free throws.

Viewed by Sam Vecenie of The Athletic last August as a potential lottery pick, Almansa has fallen all the way to No. 52 on Vecenie’s latest big board for 2024. ESPN’s draft experts are a little higher on the 18-year-old, placing him at No. 37 on their top-100 list.

Here are a few more early entrants who have recently declared for the NBA draft:

  • BYU senior wing Jaxson Robinson is entering the 2024 draft, he announced on Twitter. Robinson, who played for Texas A&M and Arkansas earlier in his college career, enjoyed a breakout season in 2023/24, averaging 14.2 points per game on .426/.354/.908 shooting. The No. 55 prospect on ESPN’s board, he was named the Big 12’s Sixth Man of the Year after starting just six of 33 games.
  • Illinois senior forward Coleman Hawkins, the No. 86 prospect on ESPN’s top-100 list, revealed on Twitter that he’s entering the NBA draft and suggested within his announcement he plans to forgo his final year of NCAA eligibility. Hawkins, who also declared for the draft a year ago before withdrawing, has been a full-time starter for the Fighting Illini for the past two seasons. He put up 12.1 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 2.7 APG, and 1.5 SPG with a .369 3PT% in 2023/24.
  • Kansas State junior forward Arthur Kaluma has announced on Instagram that he’s entering the 2024 draft. Kaluma averaged 14.4 PPG, 7.0 RPG, and 2.0 APG with a shooting line of .427/.345/.747 in his first season with the Wildcats after two years at Creighton. He first tested the draft waters in 2023.
  • French forward Mohamed Diawara, who has spent the past few seasons under contract with Paris Basketball and will turn 19 next Monday, has declared for the draft, according to agent Olivier Mazet (Twitter link).

NBA Announces Player Pool For 2024 Rising Stars Event

The NBA has officially revealed the 11 rookies, 10 sophomores, and seven G League players who will take part in the Rising Stars event at All-Star weekend in Indianapolis next month.

The following players, as voted on by NBA coaching staffs, made the cut:

Rookies

Sophomores

G League Players

As was the case last season, the Rising Stars event will consist of four teams and three games. The seven G League players will comprise one team, coached by former NBA forward Detlef Schrempf. The other 21 players will be drafted to three squads coached by former NBA and WNBA stars Pau Gasol, Jalen Rose, and Tamika Catchings.

The four teams will be split into two first-round matchups and the winners of those two games will face one another for the Rising Stars championship. The two semifinals will be played to a target score of 40 points, while the final will be played to a target score of 25 points.

All three contests will take place on Friday, February 16 as part of All-Star weekend’s opening night.

NBA G League Announces Up Next Participants

A pool of 28 players has been selected for the NBA G League’s Up Next Game at All-Star Weekend in Indianapolis, the NBAGL announced in a press release.

According to the release, the event features “four teams of seven players competing in two semifinal games. The winner of each semifinal will face off in a Championship game.

“The teams will be made up of 28 NBA G League players, including 10 selected by a fan vote. The remaining 18 players will be selected by the NBA G League and will include eight members of NBA G League Ignite and at least one member of the Indiana Mad Ants, the G League affiliate of the All-Star hosting Indiana Pacers. Each team will be coached by a head coach from the NBA G League.”

Players marked with an asterisk (*) are on two-way contracts.

Fan vote:

Former Kentucky guard Hagans received the most votes.

NBAGL selections:

G League Ignite:

They aren’t currently on NBA teams, but it’s worth noting that Labissiere and Bazley are ineligible for two-way deals because they each hold four years of NBA experience. Weatherspoon (three years), Hagans (one) and Williams (one) also hold at least some NBA experience.

And-Ones: Team USA, Prospects, Load Management, Porter

It was reported earlier this week that LeBron James was recruiting stars for the 2024 Olympics, with several players planning on joining the NBA’s all-time leading scorer in Paris.

Kevin Pelton of ESPN (Insider link) recently crafted a 12-man roster for Team USA next summer by following three criteria: An ideal team, not necessarily the best individuals; prior success with USA Basketball; and young players who can continue with the national team in the future.

Pelton’s starting five features Stephen Curry, Devin Booker, James, Kevin Durant and Joel Embiid, with Tyrese Haliburton, Anthony Edwards, Mikal Bridges, Jayson Tatum, Anthony Davis, Bam Adebayo and Evan Mobley coming off the bench. Donovan Mitchell was “perhaps the single toughest cut” from Pelton’s ideal roster.

Here’s more from around the basketball world:

  • John Hollinger of The Athletic attended the G League Fall Invitational between G League Ignite and the Perth Wildcats to scout prospects for the 2024 NBA draft and beyond. While next year’s class isn’t considered particularly strong, Hollinger writes that several players stood out at the event, including Ron Holland, Alexandre Sarr and Izan Almansa. Ignite forward Tyler Smith was another standout who may have moved up draft boards, according to Hollinger, who notes that Perth guard Ben Henshall will be closely monitored going forward as well, perhaps for 2025 or 2026.
  • NBA commissioner Adam Silver has a difficult balancing act when it comes to star players resting, with fans, revenue, and player health among the key factors to consider. But the new player participation policy is a step in the right direction, contends Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports. Having more stars on the court should make for a more compelling regular season, and Silver said at his press conference he had been weighing the advice of retired players, Goodwill notes. “You know, a lot of older players — by that I mean now, at this point, retired players — when I first came in the league, used to believe that they were more likely to get injured if they took nights off, that they would get out of rhythm,” he said. “In some cases, maybe (they) played fewer minutes, but they played. That’s something we want to look at as well.”
  • Kevin Porter Jr. was arrested this week on felony charges of assault and strangulation, but he’s far from the first NBA player to be accused of domestic violence. If the horrific allegations are proven true, Porter’s career in the league could be over, considering his history of off-court incidents. Chris Herring of Sports Illustrated believes the NBA should have a zero-tolerance policy for violence against women, though he concedes it would be a challenging rule to implement and would likely take several years. According to Herring, since salaries are rising across the board, players should be held to “extremely high behavioral standards.”

And-Ones: Holland, 2024 Draft, Cook, Player Participation

G League Ignite’s Ron Holland has moved up to No. 1 on Jonathan Givony of ESPN’s latest 2024 mock draft (Twitter video link). In recent exhibition games against Australia’s Perth Wildcats, Holland put up 56 points in 60 minutes, Givony notes, with the young forward displaying a tantalizing mixture of aggression, intensity, confidence, defense and shot-making.

Givony says NBA team’s will be attracted to Holland because “he is a winner” who raises the level of his teammates.

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

  • Elsewhere on his NBA Today appearance (Twitter video link), Givony said French big man Alexandre Sarr, who plays for Perth as part of the NBL’s Next Stars program, was another big winner from the exhibition contests. Sarr is up to No. 5 on Givony’s latest mock. The full top 10, in order, features Holland, Isaiah Collier (USC), Matas Buzelis (Ignite), Justin Edwards (Kentucky), Sarr, UConn teammates Donovan Clingan and Stephon Castle, Izan Almansa (Ignite), Kyle Filipowski (Duke) and D.J. Wagner (Kentucky).
  • Former NBA forward Tyler Cook has signed with the South East Melbourne Phoenix, the NBL announced in a press release. Cook, who turns 26 next week, has played 65 games with Cleveland, Denver, Brooklyn, Detroit and Chicago over his three seasons in the league, most recently suiting up for the Bulls in 2021/22 while on a two-way deal. Cook spent last season in the G League with Utah’s affiliate, the Salt Lake City Stars.
  • The NBA’s Board of Governors recently unanimously approved the new “player participation policy.” However, representatives from multiple teams have some reservations about certain aspects of the rules, according to ESPN’s Bobby Marks. One key concern is that a team may determine a player is fit to play the second game of a back-to-back, but the player might disagree and say he’s sore and needs rest. As Marks writes, since the rules weren’t part of the CBA, the team would be fined in that scenario, not the player. The participation policy might also contradict a team’s use of sports science, Marks adds.

And-Ones: Ignite, 2024 Draft, Unsuccessful Pairings, Eddy Curry

The G League Ignite’s impressive collection of talent was on display Wednesday night in Nevada, writes John Hollinger of The Athletic. Six players who may be selected in next year’s draft were on the court for the Ignite, and a seventh, Thierry Darlan of France, missed the game against Perth, Australia, with an ankle injury.

The biggest attraction was guard Ron Holland, whom Hollinger considers the “betting favorite” to be the top pick in 2024. Hollinger adds that Holland isn’t a clear-cut No. 1 choice like Victor Wembanyama was this year, but he looked good in his first pro game, using a mix of explosiveness and ferocity to put up 23 points.

“Ron is very, very competitive” Ignite coach Jason Hart said. “So now I’m wanting to channel it to where the opposition doesn’t know if you’re mad or you’re happy. I just told him to relax, calm down … I think he heard me. But that’s going to be a process because he’s so competitive, and I don’t want to take that from him. That’s his thing; he’s just has to learn how to use it.”

Matas Buzelis and Izan Almansa, who are projected to be top-10 picks, also showed off their skills, Hollinger adds, along with Tyler Smith, London Johnson and Perth prospects Alex Sarr and Ben Henshall. The teams will meet again on Friday.

There’s more from around the basketball world:

Draft Notes: Holland, Buzelis, Ignite, NBL Blitz

HoopsHype’s aggregate mock draft – a compilation of mocks from draft experts at ESPN, Yahoo Sports, Bleacher Report, and a handful of other outlets – has G League Ignite forward Ron Holland narrowly edging out teammate Matas Buzelis for the No. 1 spot, writes Michael Scotto of HoopsHype.

One executive likened Holland to former NBA forward Marvin Williams, albeit with a better handle. However, there’s a sense that Holland could drastically raise his ceiling by improving his jump shot.

“Holland’s shooting is his biggest weakness right now,” that exec told Scotto. “Once that gets better, not when, he’s going to be unstoppable. He can score in the paint and mid-range. He’s got a face-up game, and he has counters to his offensive game.

“His motor is really high. He’ll score because of hustle and get offensive rebounds and rim runs. He can move without the ball and get easy buckets from backdoor cuts and lobs. He’ll be a guy that gets a double-double, and he won’t have to take a jumper. As he adds the jumper and isolation moves, that’s how he’ll get up to 18 or 20 points a night. The game will come easy to him because of the energy he brings.”

Here’s more on the 2024 NBA draft:

  • While NBA evaluators believe Buzelis needs to get better on defense, there’s excitement about his offensive upside. “Buzelis can be a coast-to-coast guy,” one executive told Scotto. “He can get a defensive rebound, dribble the ball up and get you into your offense. I think you can play him all over the floor offensively. He’s going to be a good shooter. Ignite will be able to run plays for him, and he’ll be able to get them a bucket. He’s going to be a matchup problem.”
  • Kentucky wing Justin Edwards is the consensus No. 3 player in next year’s draft class and received at least one vote as the top prospect, per HoopsHype. He’s followed by French forward Zaccharie Risacher and USC guard Isaiah Collier to round out the top five.
  • In an Insider-only story for ESPN.com, Jonathan Givony takes a closer look at what should be the deepest and most talented roster in G League Ignite history. Beyond Holland and Buzelis, there are six players on the roster who are legitimate candidates to be drafted in 2024 or 2025. The Ignite have never had more than two players selected in the first round, but could have three in the top 10 in 2024, with Izan Almansa possibly joining Holland and Buzelis.
  • An estimated 40 NBA evaluators representing 25 teams will be in attendance for the 2023 NBL Blitz in Queensland, according to commissioner Jeremy Loeliger, who believes those numbers may continue to grow, per Olgun Uluc of ESPN. The event – an annual preseason tournament for Australia’s National Basketball League – will take place from September 16-22. “This is testament to the quality of the talent on the floor, the credibility of the league as a pathway to the NBA, and that the word is well and truly out that you have to see these guys in person for yourself,” Loeliger said. “… At the Blitz alone, there are at least 16 players who are potential NBA draft prospects.”

And-Ones: 2024 Draft, Tavares, Parker, Fisher

Kentucky freshman forward Justin Edwards tops the 2024 draft list of The Athletic’s Sam Vecenie. Edwards is an athletic, bigger wing who has a well-rounded game, consistently plays hard and has excellent feel for the game, according to the draft expert. Vecenie believes Edwards will be the Wildcats’ top player during the upcoming season.

Edwards is followed by a trio G League Ignite players — forwards Ron Holland, Izan Almansa and Matas Buzelis. USC guard Isaiah Collier rounds out the top five. Vecenie provides details on his top 30 prospects, as well as listing his projected second-round picks.

We have more from the basketball world:

  • Edy Tavares isn’t sure if he’ll sign another contract with Real Madrid, Cesare Milanti of Eurohoops.net relays. Tavares is hopeful he’ll return to the NBA. “I don’t know if I’m going to renew with Real Madrid,” Tavares told Relevo. “The truth is that I have a contract for next year, and I don’t know what to tell you. Yes, I hope we will agree, but the dream of the NBA is there too. I’m not going to deny it.” The 31-year-old center will play for Cape Verde at the FIBA World Cup. Tavares received a contract offer from the Trail Blazers this summer, but his Real Madrid contract includes a significant buyout, which precluded a move stateside. Tavares most recently played in the NBA during the 2016/17 season.
  • Jabari Parker‘s one-year contract with Barcelona is worth an estimated $2MM, according to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype (Twitter link). It also includes an NBA opt-out clause. The free agent forward and former lottery pick signed with the European team on Monday.
  • Longtime Lakers player and former Knicks head coach Derek Fisher is now a high school head coach. He has agreed to coach Encino Crespi in northern Los Angeles, according to Tarek Fattal of SBLive Sports. Encino Crespi plays in one of the top leagues in California and has produced NBA players De’Anthony Melton and Brandon Williams.

And-Ones: 2024 Draft, Flagg, J. Harper, What-Ifs

The projected NBA draft class of 2024 doesn’t have a clear-cut No. 1 prospect like Victor Wembanyama in 2023, but it features a handful of potential high-impact players who could make legitimate cases for that No. 1 spot with strong seasons, writes Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer.

For now, O’Connor’s “way-too-early” big board for the 2024 draft is headed by G League point forward Matas Buzelis, followed by his Ignite teammate Ron Holland at No. 2. Baylor freshman Ja’Kobe Walter, UConn freshman Stephon Castle, and another Ignite prospect, power forward Izan Almansa, round out O’Connor’s top five.

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

  • Although he won’t be eligible for the 2024 draft, 16-year-old phenom Cooper Flagg looks like a potential No. 1 overall pick in 2025 or 2026, says Sean Deveney of Heavy.com. Deveney spoke to multiple NBA evaluators to get a sense of what to expect from Flagg. “The kid is going to be a star, as long as he puts in the work,” one GM told Heavy.com. “The book on him is that he has a really good work ethic so you don’t expect that to be a problem, but you can’t tell with guys that young, how they will develop.”
  • Veteran point guard Jared Harper, who has appeared in NBA games for the Suns, Knicks, and Pelicans, has re-signed with Valencia Basket, the Spanish club announced in a press release. Harper first signed with Valencia last September after finishing the 2021/22 season on a two-way deal with New Orleans.
  • In a pair of entertaining articles for ESPN.com, Tim Bontemps takes a look back at the biggest “what-ifs” in the Eastern Conference and Western Conference over the past five years. Lonzo Ball‘s knee injury, Kawhi Leonard‘s free agency departure from Toronto, the Warriors’ decision to draft James Wiseman over LaMelo Ball, and the Rockets’ and Lakers’ trades for Russell Westbrook were among the sliding doors moments explored by Bontemps.