Zaccharie Risacher

Draft Notes: Sarr, Risacher, Clingan, Withdrawals

Alexandre Sarr holds the top spot in the latest mock draft from Sam Vecenie of The Athletic, but he cautions that the Hawks are a long way from deciding what they’re going to do with the No. 1 pick. Atlanta faced long odds for landing the first selection before moving up nine spots in the lottery, so its scouts weren’t as informed about the top prospects as some rival teams. Sources tell Vecenie that the Hawks are still in “information-gathering” mode as they sort through their options.

He notes that several members of the front office recently traveled to France to watch Zaccharie Risacher in a playoff game. Sarr and Risacher are widely expected to be the first two players off the board, but Vecenie hears that UConn center Donovan Clingan is in the mix as well.

Risacher, who goes to the Wizards at No. 2 in Vecenie’s mock draft, helped to solidify his status with a strong performance in the French League playoffs, averaging 15.1 points and 7.4 rebounds per game. Risacher’s stock had been slipping due to a prolonged shooting slump, but Vecenie’s sources are now confident that he’ll be taken somewhere in the top four.

Clingan is a candidate to be selected anywhere from No. 1 to No. 3, but he could also slide if that doesn’t happen, Vecenie adds, because the next three teams — the Spurs, Pistons and Hornets — don’t have an immediate need for center help. That’s the scenario in Vecenie’s mock draft, with Clingan going to the Trail Blazers at No. 7. However, he notes that many teams would have interest in trading up for Clingan if he does start to fall.

There’s more draft news to pass along:

  • In the same piece, Vecenie speculates that one of the reasons 93 players withdrew from the draft is increased uncertainty at the top of the second round. With the draft broken up into two days, there could be a significant shakeup in the draft order throughout the 30s. Teams that might be willing to trade include the Trail Blazers, who have two of the first 10 picks in the second round as well as two lottery selections; the Spurs, who pick twice in the lottery and hold No. 35; the Knicks, who own picks No. 24, 25 and 38; and the Jazz, who have No. 32 after picking twice in the first round. Vecenie also points to the Bucks (33), Pacers (36), Timberwolves (37) and Grizzlies (39) as win-now teams who would likely prefer other assets instead of second-round selections. There’s also an expectation that the Raptors could receive significant offers for the first pick of the second night, Vecenie adds.
  • Iowa’s Payton Sandfort is the best player who pulled his name out of the draft, according to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype. Without a firm first-round commitment, the 6’7″ guard opted to return to the Hawkeyes for his senior season. Wake Forest guard Hunter Sallis, UConn forward Alex Karaban, Alabama guard Mark Sears and Arkansas forward Trevon Brazile round out Scotto’s top five.
  • Hofstra’s Tyler Thomas has workouts scheduled this week with the Lakers and Clippers, tweets Adam Zagoria.
  • Taran Armstrong, an All-Camp Team selection at the adidas Eurocamp, has completed workouts with the Kings and Lakers, according to Olgun Uluc of ESPN (Twitter link). Armstrong has upcoming sessions with the Magic, Pistons, Wizards, Nets, Mavericks, Clippers and Pacers, and more teams may be added to that list.
  • Latvian guard Roberts Blums has withdrawn from the draft and will play for Davidson this season, confirms Jon Chepkevich of Draft Express (Twitter link). June 16 is the deadline for international players to remove their names from the draft pool.

Spurs Notes: Risacher, Win-Now Mode, Holland, Graham

The Spurs hold the No. 4 overall pick in the draft and French forward Zaccharie Risacher might be a good fit for their roster. However, Risacher will likely be off the board by then and LJ Ellis of explores whether San Antonio should take him if he slides to their pick or even move up to nab him.

Ellis notes that the Spurs are in the market for multi-positional, multi-skilled players and Risacher might fit that description as well as any lottery prospect. However, statistical models don’t flatter the Frenchman, as he grades out as a typical second-round selection.

We have more on the Spurs:

  • The Spurs want to be competitive next season and make the playoffs, Jonathan Givony of ESPN told Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer during a podcast (video link). “They’re not looking to make this a 2-3 year process where they’re in the lottery again next year,” said Givony, who reports that they may look to trade the No. 4 and/or No. 8 selections in this year’s draft for a veteran who can help right away. Givony adds that Victor Wembanyama and Devin Vassell are the only untouchables on the roster.
  • Ron Holland might have been the top prospect of this year’s draft coming into this season. Holland’s stock took a hit during his one year with the G League Ignite but that might be good news for the Spurs, Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio -News writes, since they are seeking a promising wing scorer with size. Holland is currently ranked No. 11 on ESPN’s Best Available list and could be a consideration with the latter of their lottery picks.
  • Devonte’ Graham, who has one year remaining on his four-year, $47MM contract, spent four days in Spain coaching at the NBA’s Basketball Without Borders camp. Nick Moyle of the Express-News details Graham’s experience at the camp. Graham added he’s looking forward to next season. “I come back every year same thing: motivated, do my part, leadership,” he said. “And we’ll see where it goes.” For what it’s worth, since the guard’s $12.65MM salary for 2024/25 is only partially guaranteed for $2.85MM, he may hit the free agent market this summer.

Draft Rumors: Grizzlies, Rockets, Bridges, Hawks, Carter, Furphy, Nunez

The Grizzlies are exploring the possibility of trading up in the 2024 NBA draft and have talked to the Rockets about the No. 3 pick, league sources tell Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer. In O’Connor’s view, if Memphis or another team makes a trade with Houston for that third overall pick, UConn center Donovan Clingan is the likeliest target.

The Rockets, according to O’Connor, are holding out hope that the Nets would be open to moving Mikal Bridges for a package that includes that No. 3 pick, but Brooklyn’s preference is to retain Bridges and add pieces around him.

If Houston ultimately stays put at No. 3, O’Connor believes that either Clingan or Reed Sheppard is the best bet to come off the board in that spot.

Here are a few more draft-related notes and rumors:

  • While none of the top prospects in this year’s class have visited the Hawks yet, there’s an expectation that will change as the draft nears, writes O’Connor. Zaccharie Risacher told reporters today that he’ll travel to the U.S. soon to visit NBA teams, according to John Hollinger of The Athletic (Twitter link), who speculates that Atlanta could be the first stop for the French forward.
  • O’Connor’s sources say that Providence guard Devin Carter, the No. 13 player on ESPN’s big board, has received a promise somewhere in the lottery. However, O’Connor isn’t sure which team may have made that promise — he has Carter going to Chicago at No. 11 in his latest mock draft.
  • O’Connor refers to Kansas’ Johnny Furphy as one of the “biggest risers of the pre-draft process.” Furphy is up to No. 18 on ESPN’s big board, though O’Connor has him at No. 24 in his mock draft.
  • Spanish point guard Juan Nunez, who declared for the draft as an early entrant, remains undecided on whether or not he’ll withdraw before the NBA’s June 16 deadline, but says he’s leaning toward staying in, tweets Jonathan Givony of ESPN. The No. 37 prospect on ESPN’s board, Nunez added that he has worked out for the Timberwolves and Bucks so far.

Draft Notes: 2024 Mocks, Withdrawals, Sheppard, Traore

Jonathan Givony and Jeremy Woo of ESPN (Insider link) recently published a new 2024 mock draft that features lots of interesting information.

Former Dayton star DaRon Holmes II has canceled several upcoming workouts, sources tell Woo, “raising strong suspicions that he has secured a guarantee in the back part of the first round.” The mock has Holmes, who is ranked No. 45 on ESPN’s big board, going No. 28 overall to the Nuggets.

According to Givony, rival teams think the Trail Blazers, Grizzlies and Bulls have interest in moving up in the draft — possibly to No. 3, a pick the Rockets control — to select UConn center Donovan Clingan.

While the Hawks haven’t made their intentions known regarding the No. 1 pick, each team in the top five has “significant interest” in French forward Zaccharie Risacher, who looks “highly unlikely” to fall past the Wizards at No. 2, per Givony. ESPN’s mock has Atlanta selecting Risacher first overall.

The entire mock draft is worth reading in full for those who subscribe to ESPN+.

Here are a few more draft notes:

  • In a separate article for ESPN (Insider link), Givony and Woo answer questions related to the early-entrant withdrawal deadline for college players to maintain their NCAA eligibility. That deadline passed on Wednesday night. Of the players who withdrew from the draft, Givony thinks Michael Ajayi (transferring to Gonzaga) has a great chance to improve his stock in 2025, while Woo views Alabama’s Jarin Stevenson as a player who could move up boards next year.
  • Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report also updated his mock draft after the withdrawal deadline. While the top-three picks (Risacher, Alexandre Sarr and Reed Sheppard) are the same on both mocks, there are also some major differences. For example, ESPN’s mock has Colorado’s Cody Williams landing with Portland at No. 14, but Wasserman has Detroit selecting Williams at No. 5. Kel’el Ware (No. 23 in ESPN’s mock, No. 14 in Bleacher Report’s) is another player with a seemingly wide draft range.
  • Kentucky guard Sheppard recently sat down for an interview with Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium (Twitter video link), answering questions about his family background, NBA players he looks up to, and more.
  • French guard Nolan Traore, who spent this season with Saint-Quentin in France’s top basketball division, has signed a two-year extension, the team announced (via Twitter). ESPN’s Givony was the first to report the news, writing that Traore was being recruited by major colleges as well as other professional teams from around the world. “Basketball-wise, it’s the best situation for me,” Traore told Givony. “I can play with a coach that I know, that gave me the confidence to play in the playoffs. I liked the first experience that I had with them. Playing in the FIBA Champions League [BCL] group stage next season will be exciting and was a big positive.” The 17-year-old is a projected lottery pick in 2025, according to Givony, who adds that Traore will be ranked in the top five when ESPN updates its mock draft for next year.

Scotto’s Latest: Wizards, DeRozan, Hunter, Jazz, Magic, Thunder, More

After using a lottery pick last year to add Bilal Coulibaly, the Wizards may draft another Frenchman early in the 2024 event, according to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype, who hears from league sources that the team expects to choose between big man Alexandre Sarr and forward Zaccharie Risacher.

Those prospects sit atop most 2024 big boards and mock drafts, so Washington may not actually get to “choose between” the two, given that one of them will likely be selected at No. 1. Still, Scotto’s report suggests the front office would be happy to add either Sarr or Risacher to its young core.

The Wizards’ long-term goal is to build its roster through the draft, Scotto writes, which is one reason why Brian Keefe – who has a reputation for being a strong player development coach – is considered the “heavy favorite” to be promoted from interim to permanent head coach in D.C.

According to Scotto, Washington would also like to retain free agent point guard Tyus Jones, who started 66 games in 2023/24 and could provide a stabilizing veteran presence for the Wizards youngsters. However, the expectation is that the Wizards will face competition for Jones if and when he reaches the open market.

Here are several more items of interest from Scotto’s latest aggregate mock draft at HoopsHype:

  • If the Clippers end up losing Paul George, they’re a team to watch as a potential sign-and-trade destination for Bulls forward DeMar DeRozan, Scotto reports. A team must remain below the first tax apron if it acquires a player via sign-and-trade — that would be a more viable option for Los Angeles with George’s maximum-salary contract off the books.
  • Rival executives anticipate that Hawks forward De’Andre Hunter, who has been mentioned in trade rumors in the past, will become available again this offseason, Scotto writes. Hunter, who set new career highs in 2023/24 with 15.6 points per game and a .385 3PT%, is owed approximately $70MM over the next three seasons.
  • The Jazz are expected to be open to trading their picks in this year’s draft, including No. 10 overall, and some people around the league believe team owner Ryan Smith is ready to add more high-level talent to the roster, Scotto writes, adding that Jazz CEO Danny Ainge has “aggressively monitored” the trade market.
  • The Magic will focus on adding shooting in the draft and free agency, according to Scotto, who notes that rival executives are keeping an eye on the Thunder as a team that could be active in the free agent market for centers. Orlando ranked dead-last in the NBA this season in three-pointers made (11.0 per game), while Oklahoma City placed 28th in rebounding rate (48.4%).
  • The Raptors will likely exercise their $23MM team option on swingman Bruce Brown, league sources tell HoopsHype. A previous report from The Toronto Star suggested the team was a good bet to pick up that option with an eye toward trading Brown.
  • Former Weber State wing Dillon Jones has pre-draft workouts lined up with the Pacers, Hornets, Bucks, Celtics, Raptors, and Spurs, per Scotto.

Draft Notes: Bronny, Hawks, Sheppard, Thomas, Felton

The Suns will hold a workout with Bronny James at some point before next month’s draft, sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). According to Charania, James has received workout invitations from over 10 teams but is expected to visit only a handful of clubs, including Phoenix and the Lakers.

The Suns hold just one pick in the 2024 draft and it’s a first-rounder, at No. 22. Charania suggests that James is among the players in consideration with that pick, but Doug Haller of The Athletic is skeptical that Phoenix will use its first-rounder on Bronny, given that the team probably needs to turn that pick into a player who has a better chance of contributing immediately, whether that’s in the draft or on the trade market. The former USC guard is ranked 54th on ESPN’s big board of 2024 prospects.

Speaking to Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report, James’ agent Rich Paul stressed that his client won’t sign a two-way contract and expressed a belief that Bronny going as high as No. 22 isn’t out of the question.

“Bronny’s range has been all over. Some teams think he goes 20 to 40, some say 30-50, and some teams think he’ll go undrafted,” Paul said. “It just takes one team. This is something I do every year during the draft process. This is not Bronny-centric. He’s a part of our draft class. I have to try to help find the right fit for all my guys as well as the right deal. So that’s how I’m looking at it.”

Here are a few more draft-related notes:

  • ESPN’s Jonathan Givony and Jeremy Woo have updated their list of the top 100 prospects for the 2024 draft and shared new intel (Insider link) on their top 25 players. Among the notable tidbits from their latest update: Givony and Woo say that Zaccharie Risacher, Alexandre Sarr, and Donovan Clingan are among the players on the Hawks‘ short list at the top of the draft, with Clingan believed to have some fans within Atlanta’s front office. Givony adds that it’s hard to see Kentucky’s Reed Sheppard falling further than No. 5 in the draft.
  • After testing the draft waters this spring, former Northern Colorado forward Saint Thomas will transfer to USC and continue playing college ball, a source tells Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports (Twitter link). Thomas had a breakout junior year that saw him average 19.7 points, 9.8 rebounds, and 4.2 assists per game for the Bears across 32 starts.
  • East Carolina guard RJ Felton has withdrawn from the NBA draft pool as well, tweets Rothstein. Felton, who has spent the last three seasons with the Pirates, will remain at East Carolina for his senior year.

Stein’s Latest: Hawks, Paul, Spurs, Lakers, Cavs, Keefe

The Hawks won the draft lottery a couple weeks ago, jumping all the way up from No. 10 in the pre-lottery order to No. 1.

Atlanta is “increasingly expected” to select either Alexandre Sarr or Zaccharie Risacher with the top overall pick, according to veteran NBA reporter Marc Stein (Substack link).

Both French prospects turned 19 years old last month, but they took different professional pathways in 2023/24. Big man Sarr played for the Perth Wildcats of Australia’s National Basketball League, while 3-and-D forward Risacher has been playing for JL Bourg in France’s top basketball league, LNB Élite (previously known as LNB Pro A).

Risacher is No. 1 on ESPN’s best available list, while Sarr is No. 2.

It may not occur before the draft gets underway on June 26, but Stein continues to hear the Hawks are interested in adding a “seasoned personnel executive” to their front office, which is led by GM Landry Fields.

Here’s more from Stein’s latest article:

  • Warriors point guard Chris Paul‘s $30MM salary for 2024/25 is non-guaranteed. Sources tell Stein Golden State is currently weighing its options on what to do with Paul. One choice would be pushing back his June 28 early salary guarantee date into July, but that would require Paul’s consent, which isn’t a given. If both sides agree, that would give the Warriors more time to explore trades, Stein adds.
  • If Paul hits the open market as a free agent, the Spurs and Lakers “keep coming up as potential suitors” for the future Hall-of-Famer, Stein reports. As Stein writes, Paul is close with Lakers superstar LeBron James and his family lives in Los Angeles, so there are obvious connections to the team and area.
  • Could the Lakers‘ slow-moving head coaching search be accelerated by the Cavaliers‘ recent firing of J.B. Bickerstaff? Stein explores that question, writing that L.A. may face some competition for candidates like Kenny Atkinson and James Borrego, as previously reported. Celtics assistant Sam Cassell, one of the “initial leading targets” in L.A.’s search, is another name to watch for the Cavs, according to Stein.
  • Wizards interim head coach Brian Keefe is viewed as the frontrunner to land the full-time job in Washington, per Stein. That echoes previous reporting from The Athletic.

Draft Notes: Omier, Roach, Shulga, Diarra, Warrick, More

After spending their senior years at Miami and Duke, respectively, forward Norchad Omier and guard Jeremy Roach entered the 2024 NBA draft pool this spring. However, as Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports tweets, both Omier and Roach have opted to withdraw from the draft and take advantage of their extra year of NCAA eligibility by playing at Baylor as “super-seniors” in 2024/25.

Omier, who began his college career at Arkansas State, has averaged a double-double in each of his four seasons, including putting up 17.0 points and 10.0 rebounds per game for the Hurricanes last season. A Miami Herald report last month stated that Omier had hired an agent and was expected to go pro, but his representative (Adam Godes) is NCAA-certified, which allowed the forward to test the waters and remove his name from the draft without forgoing his final year of college eligibility.

Roach, meanwhile, enjoyed the best season of his college career in 2023/24, averaging 14.0 PPG, 3.3 APG, and 2.5 RPG on .468/.429/.844 shooting in 35 games (32.7 MPG) for the Blue Devils.

Here’s more on the 2024 draft:

  • Guard Max Shulga, who spent his senior season at VCU in 2023/24, is withdrawing from the draft and will return to the Rams rather than transferring, despite reports that he had committed to Villanova, according to Rothstein (Twitter link). Shulga, VCU’s leading scorer with 14.0 PPG last season, will be automatically draft-eligible in 2025.
  • North Carolina State forward Mohamed Diarra will remain in the 2024 draft and go pro, a source tells Rothstein (Twitter link). That was the expectation for Diarra, who didn’t say anything about maintaining his college eligibility when he announced last month that he was entering the draft.
  • Marques Warrick, a four-time All-Horizon guard at Northern Kentucky, is pulling out of the draft and transferring to Missouri for his final college season, tweets Rothstein.
  • ESPN’s Jonathan Givony and Jeremy Woo (Insider link) have published their post-combine mock draft, with Alexandre Sarr and Zaccharie Risacher in the top two spots, followed by Kentucky teammates Reed Sheppard and Rob Dillingham at No. 3 and No. 4, respectively. Givony and Woo have former No. 1 prospect Ron Holland slipping to 11th overall and going to the Bulls.
  • Former Illinois big man Coleman Hawkins will work out for the Warriors on Thursday and the Kings on Friday, according to Sean Cunningham of FOX 40 Sacramento (Twitter link).

Draft Notes: Clingan, Risers, Buzelis, Withdrawals

The “buzz and excitement” surrounding former UConn center Donovan Clingan seems to be growing, Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report writes in a post-combine update of his 2024 mock draft. Wasserman had Clingan coming off the board at No. 7 overall in a mock earlier this month, but has bumped the big man up to No. 3 this week after he made a strong impression on NBA evaluators in Chicago.

Zaccharie Risacher (No. 2 to No. 1), Dalton Knecht (No. 10 to No. 7), Tidjane Salaun (No. 21 to No. 12), and Devin Carter (No. 18 to No. 13) are among the other notable lottery risers in Wasserman’s latest mock draft, while Matas Buzelis slipped from No. 5 to No. 11. Opinions are mixed on the G League Ignite forward, according to Wasserman, who says workouts with teams will be “extra important” for Buzelis.

Here are a few more draft updates:

  • Guard Xavier DuSell, who declared for the draft following his senior year at Fresno State, has decided to remove his name from the 2024 poll and take advantage of his extra year of eligibility, tweets Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports. DuSell will be transferring to Nevada for his super-senior season.
  • Following a strong freshman season at Georgia Tech (12.4 PPG, 8.2 RPG, 1.1 BPG), forward Baye Ndongo will withdraw from the draft and return to the Yellow Jackets, per Rothstein (Twitter link).
  • Jacksonville guard Robert McCray will head back to school for his junior season rather than keeping his name in the draft, tweets Rothstein. McCoy had a breakout season in 2023/24, averaging 18.4 PPG, 4.2 RPG, and 2.9 APG.
  • Guard Keyshawn Hall is pulling out of the draft and will transfer to his third college in three years, according to Rothstein (Twitter link). After playing at UNLV as a freshman and George Mason as a sophomore, Hall will head to UCF for his junior season in 2024/25.
  • VCU sophomore forward Toibu Lawal has officially withdrawn from the draft and will transfer to Virginia Tech for his junior year, tweets Rothstein.
  • As a reminder, the deadline for college early entrants to exit the draft pool and retain their NCAA eligibility is next Wednesday, May 29.

And-Ones: Potential Coaching Changes, Wembanyama, France, Draft Odds

Head coaches Taylor Jenkins, Willie Green and Chauncey Billups could all be in danger of losing their jobs next season, according to John Hollinger of The Athletic, who discussed the topic with league personnel at the draft combine. Hollinger cites a belief that the Grizzlies, Pelicans and Trail Blazers will consider coaching changes if they get off to slow starts.

Jenkins has been mostly successful during his time in Memphis, finishing second in the 2022 Coach of the Year race, but he’s coming off a 27-win season as the Grizzlies were overwhelmed by injuries. Hollinger notes that the organization fired most of his staff prior to the combine, which could be a sign of trouble.

Green posted 49 wins this season, but New Orleans wasn’t competitive while being swept out of the playoffs in the first round by Oklahoma City. There’s been more scrutiny on Green’s offensive philosophies and player usage, especially at center, Hollinger adds.

Billups seems most likely to be replaced as he’s entering the final year of his contract and is reporting to a general manager who didn’t hire him. Portland also made changes involving its assistant coaches, and Hollinger states that Billups seemed to be trying to position himself for the Suns job before they hired Mike Budenholzer. Everyone that Hollinger spoke with expects Billups to be replaced by next offseason.

There’s more from around the basketball world:

  • In addition to trying to win a gold medal for France, Victor Wembanyama hopes to use the 2024 Olympics as a learning experience, per Johnny Askounis of Eurohoops. “I am here to learn from some of the best players in the history of the national team,” Wembanyama said. “I am not here to explain anything to players with five, six or seven international campaigns under their belts. For sure, I will have responsibilities, but they will be realistic. I will have as many as necessary.”
  • Alexandre Sarr, who hopes to follow Wembanyama as the second French player to be drafted No. 1 overall, is part of a wave of NBA talent from the nation, Hollinger writes in a separate story. Zaccharie Risacher will also get consideration as the top pick, as four players from France may be taken in the first round. Wembanyama and Bilal Coulibaly both went in the lottery last year, and Hollinger notes that Nolan Traore is likely to be selected early in 2025. “I think we got so much talent, it’s exciting,” French native Rudy Gobert said. “You go (back) 20 years ago, we had a few guys like (Tony Parker) and Boris Diaw and (Nicolas) Batum, and now you look and there’s so much talent every year coming in. Credit the French clubs and the French federation for being able to develop some of this talent and allowing them to play to their abilities.”
  • HoopsHype has released its annual draft predictor, charting the most likely players to be selected by each team. The list starts with Sarr, who is considered to have an 87.9% chance to be drafted by Atlanta.