Mark Armstrong

Pacific Notes: Hurley, Lakers, Bronny, Suns, Kings

UConn’s Dan Hurley is meeting with the Lakers regarding their head coaching vacancy on Friday. L.A. is reportedly going to offer Hurley a “significant” contract in terms of both years and salary.

A source close to Hurley tells Jeff Goodman of The Field Of 68 (via Twitter) that it’s “50-50” whether the 51-year-old accepts the job or returns to the Huskies in pursuit of a third consecutive national championship.

According to Goodman (Twitter links), UConn has an offer extended to Hurley that would make him the third-highest paid college coach in the country, behind only Bill Self and John Calipari. However, there’s an expectation that the school’s offer will likely pale in comparison to what the Lakers will put on the table.

Appearing on Jimmy Kimmel Live, former president of basketball operations Magic Johnson was enthusiastic about the prospect of the Lakers hiring Hurley, as Chuck Schilken of The Los Angeles Times relays (subscriber link).

I like Hurley,” Johnson said. “I want the coach to be Hurley. … He has a championship background. He’s great with offensive and defensive strategy. I think that the players will respect him. And he’s tough. The Lakers gotta have somebody who will hold them accountable, right?

Here’s more from the Pacific:

  • Howard Beck of The Ringer argues that Hurley shouldn’t be viewed as a risky candidate despite never coaching at the NBA level. The Lakers‘ top target has admirers around the NBA, such as longtime assistant Ron Adams, who is currently with the Warriors. “I think he’s a marvelous coach,” Adams said of Hurley. “He comes from a tremendous basketball family. … I think his skill set is excellent for coming into the pros. … I know a lot of people will say, ‘Well, he’s a really demanding coach.’ Well yes, and that’s going to be a strength in the pros. You may have to dress it up differently, but that will be a strength of his if he’s good with people and good at bringing out the best version of a player. That’s going to work in the pros, too.”
  • USC guard Bronny James, who is ranked No. 53 on ESPN’s big board, had a strong showing during a workout with the Suns on Wednesday, sources tell Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic. Villanova guard Mark Armstrong and West Virginia guard Raequan Battle also impressed Phoenix during the group workout, according to Rankin. The Suns hold the No. 22 pick in this month’s draft.
  • Gerald Bourguet of PHNX Sports examines five big men the Suns could target with their first-round pick, including Baylor’s Yves Missi and Indiana’s Kel’el Ware.
  • The Kings hosted a pre-draft workout on Wednesday featuring Weber State’s Dillon Jones, Creighton’s Trey Alexander, Pitt’s Carlton Carrington and Miami’s Kyshawn George, a league source tells Brenden Nunes of Sactown Sports 1140. Sacramento controls the No. 13 and No. 45 picks in the 2024 draft. George (No. 19) and Carrington (No. 20) are projected first-round picks, according to ESPN, while Jones (No. 48) and Alexander (No. 65) are potential second-rounders.

Draft Notes: Wells, J. Davis, Armstrong, Castle, 2024 Class

After initially being invited to the G League Elite Camp, Washington State shooting guard Jaylen Wells has now been added to the list of invitees for the NBA’s draft combine, reports Jonathan Givony of ESPN (Twitter link). As Givony notes, 78 prospects received combine invitations, so it was a bit surprising that Wells – the No. 54 prospect on ESPN’s big board – didn’t make the cut.

Givony speculates (via Twitter) that the late invite for Wells might mean the NBA is concerned about not having the 40-to-44 players it needs for scrimmages at the combine. A total of 37 players declined to take part in the five-on-five sessions last year, according to Givony, who adds that the availability of 10 of this year’s combine invitees is up in the air — those prospects are either still playing in their respective leagues or will need to be cleared by the NBA’s Fitness to Play panel.

Here are a few more notes related to the 2024 NBA draft:

  • Johnell Davis, who is testing the NBA draft waters after spending the last four years at Florida Atlantic, will turn down his invitation to the G League Elite Camp and instead conduct private workouts with select teams in the coming weeks, a source tells Givony (Twitter link). If Davis opts to withdraw from the draft by the NCAA’s May 29 deadline, he’ll transfer to Arkansas to play his super-senior season under John Calipari.
  • Villanova sophomore guard Mark Armstrong, who initially announced he was testing the draft waters, has decided to forgo his remaining NCAA eligibility and go pro, per a press release from the program. Armstrong, who doesn’t show up on ESPN’s top-100 list, averaged 8.4 points, 2.4 assists, and 2.3 rebounds in 24.5 minutes per game across 34 contests (32 starts) in 2023/24.
  • Givony and ESPN colleague Jeremy Woo (ESPN Insider link) recently updated their prospect rankings for 2024. The top eight players on their board remain unchanged, but they’ve bumped UConn’s Stephon Castle up from No. 14 to No. 9.
  • Michael Scotto of HoopsHype has updated the site’s aggregate mock draft for 2024, speaking to a few sources about specific prospects and the draft class as a whole. “When you look at this draft, you have to drag down a lot of these players and think of them as 20-30 types of picks,” one NBA executive told Scotto. “The lottery guys in a normal draft would be 10-30. There are no real top-end lottery guys. If you’re thinking of getting a franchise-altering guy, I’d temper that and try to get a good role player. If you’re drafting at the top of the draft, you should try and get some value for that pick on the trade market.” HoopsHype’s aggregate mock has three international players – Alexandre Sarr, Zaccharie Risacher, and Matas Buzelis – coming off the board first.

44 Prospects Invited To G League Elite Camp

Forty-four prospects for the 2024 NBA draft were invited to the NBA’s G League Elite Camp, according to ESPN’s Jonathan Givony (Twitter link).

The list of players is as follows:

The field of draft prospects scrimmage for two days in Chicago starting on May 11 ahead of the NBA’s annual draft combine. If players perform well enough, they’re often promoted to the larger combine immediately following the G League Elite Camp. Typically, at least a half dozen players move on.

While the combine usually focuses on the top-ranked players in each draft class, the G League Elite Camp offers opportunity to prospects further down boards who are more likely to go undrafted. Of the 44 names invited to the G League Elite Camp, only 16 rank among ESPN’s top 100 prospects. No prospect ranks higher than No. 48 (Onyenso) on ESPN’s board.

Nine of ESPN’s top 100 prospects have not been invited to Chicago for either event: Armel Traore (France), Zacharie Perrin (France), Andrija Jelavic (Croatia), Yannick Kraag (Netherlands), Tre Mitchell (Kentucky), Ilias Kamardine (France), Dylan Disu (Texas), Riley Minix (Morehead State) and Jonas Aidoo (Tennessee). According to Givony (Twitter link), the NBA might not announce the official list until Monday, so there’s a chance it’s amended.

The G League Elite Camp will give invitees who declared for the draft as early entrants an opportunity to see where they stand ahead of the draft withdrawal deadline on May 29. Not all of the players who participate in this event will remain in the draft pool.

Last year, future NBA players like Hornets forward Leaky Black, Pistons forward Tosan Evbuomwan, Mavericks forward Alex Fudge, Celtics guard Drew Peterson and Nets guard Jaylen Martin all participated in the event. Other recent notable alums of the event include Pelicans guard Jose Alvarado and Clippers guard Terance Mann.

Draft Notes: Ighodaro, Armstrong, Kelly, Bronny, More

Marquette power forward Oso Ighodaro has opted to enter the 2024 NBA draft, he announced on Instagram. Ighodaro’s announcement doesn’t say anything about maintaining his college eligibility, so it sounds like he intends to go pro, forgoing the “super-senior” season granted due to COVID.

The No. 66 prospect on ESPN’s big board, Ighodaro spent four years at Marquette, increasing his role and his production in each season. As a senior in 2023/24, he averaged 13.4 points, 6.9 rebounds, 2.9 assists, and 1.3 blocks in 32.5 minutes per game across 36 starts, with a .576 FG%.

Here are a few more draft-related notes and updates, with a focus on early entrants:

  • Villanova sophomore guard Mark Armstrong will test the NBA draft waters this spring, according to an Instagram announcement. Armstrong became a full-time starter for the Wildcats in 2023/24, but put up modest numbers, including 8.4 PPG and 2.4 APG on .417/.282/.776 shooting.
  • Miles Kelly, a junior guard at Georgia Tech, is entering the 2024 draft, according to Jon Chepkevich of Draft Express (Twitter link). Kelly’s shooting numbers dipped across the board in ’23/24, though he still managed to put up 13.9 PPG and 5.5 RPG in 32 games (31.8 MPG).
  • Northwestern junior wing Brooks Barnhizer is testing the draft waters as well, tweets Chepkevich. Barnhizer boosted his scoring average to 14.6 PPG in 2023/24 and earned a spot on the Big Ten All-Defensive team.
  • It appears that Tulane senior guard Sion James will forgo his final year of college eligibility and go pro. He announced on Instagram that he’s entering his name in this year’s draft pool and didn’t mention anything about retaining his eligibility. James, who tested the waters a year ago, averaged 14.0 PPG and 5.4 RPG with a .381 3PT% this past season.
  • South Florida senior forward Kasean Pryor is testing the draft waters while also entering the transfer portal, a source tells Joe Tipton of On3 Sports (Twitter link). Pryor previously played at Boise State and Northwest Florida State College before spending a season with South Florida in ’23/24.
  • Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer spoke to an NBA general manager, another front office executive, and a scout – all from different teams – to get their opinions on Bronny James‘ future. The GM suggested the USC guard would be a first-rounder if he had shot the ball well as a freshman but believes he’s “nowhere near ready” based on what he showed in his first college seasons.