PJ Hall

Larsson, Hall, Sears Among Latest Draft Early Entrants

Arizona guard Pelle Larsson, who is ranked No. 45 on ESPN’s big board, is forgoing his final season of college eligibility and entering the 2024 draft, agent Daniel Poneman told Jonathan Givony of ESPN (Twitter link).

A native of Sweden, Larsson averaged 12.8 PPG, 4.1 RPG and 3.7 APG with an impressive .519/.426/.750 shooting line in 36 games as a senior for the Wildcats in 2023/24 (30.1 MPG). Arizona made it to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament, when it lost to Clemson.

Speaking of Clemson, big man PJ Hall, another potential second-round pick who is No. 59 on ESPN’s board, was on a list of college senior early entrants that was sent to NBA teams a couple days ago, according to Givony (Twitter links). As far as we’re aware, Hall did not make an announcement on whether he intends to test the draft waters or forgo his final year of eligibility.

Alabama’s Mark Sears was on that early entrant list as well, and he recently announced (Instagram link) that he’ll be testing the draft waters. The No. 90-ranked prospect on ESPN’s board, Sears helped lead the Crimson Tide to the Final Four before losing to eventual champion UConn.

Here are a few other players who appeared on the senior early entrant list that Givony provided and are not on our own early entrants list:

As with Hall, we haven’t seen announcements from these four players, so we’re not sure if they’re testing the draft waters or intend to stay in the draft. May 29 is the deadline for college early entrants to withdraw from the draft and return to school, Givony notes.

Draft Notes: Sanogo, Burton, Hall, Okani, Lottery Picks

UConn big man Adama Sanogo worked out for the Nets earlier this month and has a workout with the Knicks scheduled in June, a source tells Adam Zagoria of ZagsBlog.com (Twitter link).

Sanogo helped lead the Huskies to the NCAA Championship in 2022/23, winning Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four. As Zagoria wrote last week for NJ.com, Sanogo helped himself at the NBA draft combine.

I thought Adama Sanogo was one of the big winners of the NBA combine scrimmages,” ESPN’s Jonathan Givony said. “He showed there’s a little bit more to his game than you might initially think.

You look at him, you say, ‘OK, he’s not really the most modern big man, he’s a back-to-the basket big, he’s a pick-and-roll finisher, he’s an offensive rebounder. But he made some great passes these past two days, and played with the type of freedom that I didn’t personally expect to see, so I thought he really helped him actually.”

Sanogo was ranked No. 87 on Givony’s big board for ESPN at the end of April, but he has moved up to No. 74, making him a borderline second-round pick.

Here are a few more draft-related notes:

  • Tyler Burton, who is a draft early entrant, will enter the transfer portal if he goes back to college, sources tell Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports (Twitter link). However, Zagoria hears (via Twitter) that Burton is “leaning heavily” toward going pro and is listed as “do not contact” in the transfer portal. Burton averaged 19.0 PPG, 7.4 RPG and 1.5 SPG as a senior for Richmond, but has one year of eligibility left.
  • Forward PJ Hall has withdrawn from the draft and will return to Clemson for his senior season, he announced (via Twitter). UIC’s Toby Okani has also withdrawn from the draft, he tells Rothstein (Twitter link). Okani, a guard/forward, will be a senior for the Flames.
  • What is every projected lottery pick’s biggest weakness? Jonathan Wasserman explores that topic for Bleacher Report, writing that Victor Wembanyama‘s decision-making is his primary demerit. The French phenom is the projected No. 1 overall pick.

Draft Notes: Wembanyama, Henderson, Combine, Roach

Victor Wembanyama will be the grand prize at Tuesday’s draft lottery, so Brian Windhorst and Jonathan Givony of ESPN took a look at the decade-long development of the French phenom. Long before he grew into a 7’5″ international star, Wembanyama was considered a special prospect even at age eight. The authors cite a YouTube video in which he intercepts a pass in a 2012 game and covers about 30 feet in two dribbles before laying the ball into the basket.

Wembanyama grew up in an athletic family near Paris with his mother playing basketball professionally before becoming a youth coach and his father competing as a long jumper. Wembanyama also learned the game from Karim Boubekri, a coach who developed his strategies by watching Pete Maravich and the AND1 Mixtape stars. That brought a level of creativity to Wembanyama’s game that he was determined to preserve, even if it meant battling with his coaches.

“I was probably born with that will to do things differently and do things my way,” he said. “I’m really glad I kept that willpower, to not (let) sometimes coaches put me in a box. That’s really an everyday fight.”

There’s more draft news to pass along:

  • G League guard Scoot Henderson, who’s a strong candidate to be taken second overall, is receiving assistance from Stephen Curry‘s training team as he prepares for his NBA future, writes Janie McCauley of The Associated Press. Henderson and his sister Moochie, who will play at Georgia State, have partnered with Curry’s company, SC30 Inc. “Just getting this early training and early knowledge from Steph mentoring me and the people around him, it’s a blessing,” Scoot Henderson said. “Me just turning 19, just getting that knowledge early, it’s really cool.”
  • Wembanyama and Henderson occupy the top two spots in the latest mock draft issued by Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer. Brandon Miller, Amen Thompson and Ausar Thompson round out the top five.
  • With the NBA Draft Combine starting today, eight players have been called up from the G League Elite Camp, Givony tweets. They are Jazian Gortman of Overtime Elite, Sir’Jabari Rice of Texas, Hunter Tyson and PJ Hall of Clemson, Johni Broome of Auburn, Tosan Evbuomwan of Princeton, Kendric Davis of Memphis and Dillon Jones of Weber State.
  • Jeremy Roach has elected to pull his name out of the draft and return to Duke for another season, tweets Jeff Goodman of Stadium. Roach wasn’t listed on ESPN’s big board and was considered unlikely to be drafted.

50 Prospects Reportedly Invited To G League Elite Camp

A total of 50 prospects for the 2023 NBA draft have been invited to the NBA’s G League Elite Camp, according to reports from Adam Zagoria of Forbes and Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report (Twitter links).

Those players are as follows:

The name of the G League Elite Camp is a bit of a misnomer — when first introduced, the event showcased NBAGL players, but the field of participants now consists exclusively of draft prospects. The event will take place on May 13 and 14 in Chicago, ahead of this year’s draft combine.

Like the combine, the Elite Camp brings young players to Chicago to meet NBA teams and participate in drills and scrimmages. While the combine focuses on the top prospects in a given draft class, the Elite Camp generally features prospects who are trying to break into that upper echelon of prospects but are more likely to go undrafted. The top performers at the event typically receive invites to the combine.

Of the 50 G League Elite Camp invitees, 15 show up on Jonathan Givony’s list of this year’s top 100 prospects at ESPN.com. However, no Elite Camp invitee ranks higher than No. 58 (Hart) on ESPN’s board.

The G League Elite Camp will give the invitees who declared for the draft as early entrants an opportunity to see where they stand ahead of the draft withdrawal deadline on May 31. Not all of the players who participate in this event will remain in the draft pool.

Some NBA players who have participated in past G League Elite Camps include Pelicans guard Jose Alvarado, Pacers forward Oshae Brissett, Clippers guard Terance Mann, and Heat wing Max Strus.