Justin Jackson (Cincinnati)

Robert Covington Tops D-League Draftees

The NBA D-League Draft was held today and the event was kicked off with Robert Covington being selected first overall by the Grand Rapids Drive, the Pistons D-League affiliate. Covington’s selection was first reported by Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports (Twitter link). The 23-year-old forward was arguably the most talented player in the D-League draft, though he isn’t expected to spend the full season in Grand Rapids, notes Chris Reichert of SB Nation, since he is on the radar of numerous NBA teams.

Covington spent much of last season with Houston’s D-League affiliate despite being on the team’s NBA roster the entire year. He earned himself a trip to the D-League’s All-Star game by averaging 23.2 PPG and 9.2 RPG in 34.1 minutes per game in 42 D-League appearances. He spent the preseason on Houston’s roster, though he was away from the team for weeks mulling offers to play in Europe before being waived. Covington came close to inking a deal with the Sixers, but decided to take the D-League route to begin the season.

Elliot Williams, a former 2010 first round pick of the Blazers, was selected by the Warriors affiliate with the second overall pick. The 6’5″ guard was a rotation player for the Sixers last year, averaging 6.0 PPG in 17.3 MPG, but was waived by Philadelphia when the team needed to pare its preseason roster count down to 15 players.

Other players selected in the opening round who had prior NBA regular season experience were Marquis TeagueBen HansbroughErik MurphyCarrick Felix and Damien Wilkins.

One other player to keep an eye on is Milos Milisavljevic, a 21-year-old Serbian point guard who was selected by the Texas Legends, who serve as the affiliate of the Mavericks. Milisavljevic will be NBA draft-eligible in 2015, and is on the radar of NBA scouts, though he isn’t currently projected to be taken in either round by DraftExpress.

Here is the full list of first round selections:

  1. Grand Rapids Drive (via Delaware) — Robert Covington
  2. Santa Cruz Warriors (via Erie) — Elliot Williams
  3. Austin Spurs — Erik Murphy
  4. Santa Cruz Warriors (via Maine) — Carrick Felix
  5. Grand Rapids Drive — Ben Hansbrough
  6. Texas Legends — Milos Milisavljevic
  7. Idaho Stampede — Tre’ Bussey
  8. Bakersfield Jam — Robert Vaden
  9. Oklahoma City Blue — Marquis Teague
  10. Reno Bighorns (via Westchester) — Joonas Caven
  11. Reno Bighorns — Brady Heslip
  12. Canton Charge — Michael Dunigan
  13. Santa Cruz Warriors — Melvin Johnson III
  14. Rio Grande Valley Vipers — Chane Behanan
  15. Sioux Falls Skyforce — Fuquan Edwin
  16. Iowa Energy — Damien Wilkins
  17. Los Angeles D-Fenders — Eloy Vargas
  18. Rio Grande Valley Vipers (via Fort Wayne) — Justin Jackson

And-Ones: Draft, Spurs, Hornets, Hollins, Wolves

Jarnell Stokes‘ representatives are excited about his performance against Adreian Payne in a workout for the Raptors today, with auditions for the Spurs and Clippers still to come, as Zach Links of Hoops Rumors reports (Twitter links). Zach also hears that Rodney Hood has rescheduled workouts with the Wolves and Kings this week after withdrawing from earlier auditions for the teams (Twitter link). Justin Jackson showed off twice for the Hornets last week, with the Hawks, Heat and Suns on his upcoming workout agenda, Zach also tweets. Here’s more from around the league:

  • A Western Conference executive who spoke with Mike Monroe of the San Antonio Express-News suggests that teams will be wary of the poor performance that soon-to-be free agent Boris Diaw turned in for Charlotte preceding his tenure with the Spurs. Monroe also hears doubt from an exec about Patty Mills‘ ability to succeed outside of San Antonio.
  • The Hornets are interviewing Blazers director of college scouting Chad Buchanan for their assistant GM post, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports (Twitter link). The assistant GM will serve under GM Rich Cho, who gained full control of the front office when president of basketball operations Rod Higgins resigned last week.
  • The Rockets are aggressively seeking Lionel Hollins to serve as an assistant coach even though they know it will be difficult to land him as he seeks head coaching jobs, according to Marc Stein of ESPN.com. Hollins has interviewed to become the head man for the Cavs and Lakers.
  • The Timberwolves named Sam Mitchell an assistant coach today, the team announced (on Twitter). Mitchell interviewed for the head coaching job and was reportedly a favorite of owner Glen Taylor.

Draft Notes: Cobbs, Rockets, Gordon, Jazz

We rounded up the draft news this morning and this afternoon, but there’s plenty of new info still coming out. Here’s the latest:

  • Justin Cobbs had a workout with Warriors today, tweets Diamond Leung of Bay Area News.
  • The Rockets brought in Iona guard Tre Bowman for a workout, reveals Adam Zagoria of SNY.tv (on Twitter).
  • Aaron Gordon will work out for the Celtics, tweets Baxter Holmes of the Boston Globe. Boston is reportedly “locked in” to big man with the No. 6 pick.
  • Patric Young, Jordan Adams, T.J. Bray, Alec Brown, and Jabari Brown will work out for the Jazz, the team announced (on Twitter).
  • The Hornets’ workouts tomorrow will include Jordan Bachynski, Justin Jackson, Alex Kirk, Daniel Miller, Dwight Powell, and D.J. Shelton, according to Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer (Twitter links).
  • Jordan Clarkson made a strong impression during his workout for the Suns, observes Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic (on Twitter).

Draft Notes: Hood, Stokes, Jackson, Anderson

This morning, Hoops Rumors learned (Twitter link) that Duke sharpshooter Rodney Hood will audition for the CelticsKingsHawks, and Hornets in the next few weeks.  As previously reported, his future workout schedule will also include the Sixers and he has already worked out for the BullsMagicNuggets, and Suns.  Back in May, Hood told Hoops Rumors that he could go as high as No. 6-12 and it sounds increasingly plausible as he has worked out for most of the top half teams. Here’s the latest draft news..

  • Nate Duncan of Basketball Insiders explains why he thinks Noah Vonleh would have limited upside as a lottery pick. Duncan thinks Vonleh’s leaping ability has become overrated, and cites poor instincts on both ends of the floor as reason to temper expectations.
  • Robby Kalland of Hawks.com checked in with Brian Schroeder of Hardwood Paroxysm to get the goods on first round draft prospect Jusuf Nurkic.  Schroeder raves about his size, relative mobility, rebounding, and scoring touch.  Currently, the big man is slated to go No. 11 to the Nuggets in DraftExpress‘ mock draft.
  • Joel Brigham of Basketball Insiders runs down some common mistakes teams make in the draft, highlighting players from this year’s pool that could produce similar letdowns.

Earlier updates:

  • Jabari Parker would have no issue with being drafted by the Bucks, his father Sonny and Duke teammate Hood tell Gery Woelfel of The Journal Times.
  • The Suns were expected to work out Adreian Payne, Jordan Adams, Markel Brown, Sean Kilpatrick, Daniel Miller, and C.J. Wilcox today, reports azcentral sports.
  • Shawn Glover worked out for the Jazz today, reports Aaron Falk of The Salt Lake Tribune, and both Payne and David Stockton will work out for Utah tomorrow, Falk tweets. Payne is projected near Utah’s No. 23 overall pick, but neither Glover or Stockton (son of Jazz legend John Stockton) are projected as either first or second round picks.
  • A source tells Hoops Rumors (Twitter link) that Clemson small forward K.J. McDaniels will work out for the Thunder tomorrow.  McDaniels is projected as a mid-to-late first-round pick and while he figures to be in range, he could be gone by the time OKC picks at No. 21.
  • Hoops Rumors has also learned (via Twitter) that Stanford forward Josh Huestis auditioned for the Knicks this week and will be playing in front of the Magic today.  The source adds that there aren’t enough days before the draft for Huestis to work out for every team that wants to see him (link).
  • In continuing their trend of working out point guards, the Magic will work out Tyler Ennis and Elfrid Payton over the next few days, tweets Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders.
  • Hoops Rumors has also learned (via Twitter) that former Tennessee Volunteers big man Jarnell Stokes is one of the 12 players working out for the Jazz today.  Stokes is projected to be a first round pick thanks to his tenacious rebounding and high motor.
  • A source tells Hoops Rumors (via Twitter) that Cincinnati forward Justin Jackson has worked  out for the Bulls with the Mavs, PacersHawksHornets, and Suns still on the docket.  To learn more about Jackson, a second-round prospect, check out the interview we conducted with him last month as a part of our Prospect Profile series.
  • Former UCLA point guard Kyle Anderson will work out for the Thunder tomorrow and the Sixers on Monday, tweets Adam Zagoria of SNY.

Prospect Profile: Justin Jackson

Some might ask what position Cincinnati senior Justin Jackson — a slender 6’8″ forward — would be best suited for in the NBA.  Others, like Jackson himself, don’t spend too much time thinking about that.NCAA Basketball: American Athletic Conference Tournament-UConn vs Cincinnati

I don’t really give myself a size, I’m just a ballplayer,” Jackson explained to Hoops Rumors. “I can be a one up to a five.  I’m just going to do whatever is asked of me, like Tony Allen.  He’s 6’4″ and he’ll guard someone like Kevin Durant.  It’s a big size difference but he knows how to guard him.  I’m the same way.  I’m 6’8″ but I can move like a guard and guard up to a five,

The reigning AAC Defensive Player of the Year has spent four years proving to observers that he’s capable of pesky D on the inside and on the perimeter.  With a 7’1″ wingspan, Jackson has long limbs that are designed for disrupting a ball handler and clogging passing lanes.  He excelled in standard defensive measurements (2.9 blocks per game, 1.6 steals per game), and his play also inspired the sports information department at UC to keep track of his pass deflections per game and leaps into press row. The question he expects to get peppered with a lot between now and June is whether he can be a contributor on offense, as well.

Showing off a mid-range game will be important for Jackson, who was asked to score most of his points off of putbacks in college. Bearcats coach Mick Cronin told Sports Illustrated’s Kelli Anderson earlier this year that his message this season was, “I don’t need you to take more shots; I need you to score more points.”  Cronin pushed the senior to tailor his game so it would look more like that of Bearcats alum Kenyon Martin, which led Jackson to play with more power on the offensive end. NBA prospects could do a whole lot worse than taking after the former No. 1 overall pick, but Jackson knows the jumper is still essential at the next level.

I can hit open jumpers and I’m a great passer.  I’m not going to say that I’m Durant with the basketball, but I’m the guy who when KD breaks their man down and you need an open 15 footer knocked down, I can do that.  I’m a great role player,” the 23-year-old said.

Jackson was able to back that up at the Portsmouth Invitational just a few weeks ago, averaging a double-double in front of a litany of NBA scouts.  His solid performance, he says, has only made him more eager for his next showcase.  Jackson’s mission is to show that he’s not only well-rounded, but also mature and ready to help a team win immediately.

Because there are still folks who worry about Jackson’s size, he’s hard at work near his hometown in Florida putting on weight.  The forward played this year at around 230 pounds and he hopes that when it gets closer to draft time, he’ll tip the scales at 240.  Expect Jackson to get a lot of looks later in the second round, especially if he gets the opportunity to defend against different positions in workouts.   

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.