V.J. Beachem

Central Notes: Pistons, Pacers, Bucks, Workouts

After a disappointing 2016/17 season, the Pistons will be looking this offseason for ways to improve the team’s outlook for next year. However, as Vince Ellis of The Detroit Free Press details, Andre Drummond doesn’t believe a roster overhaul is necessary.

“I don’t think we need to do any changes,” the Pistons center told reporters earlier this week. “We had a lot of bumps in the road last season with different things going on, and it took everybody out of sync. … With this summer coming up, we have to do a better job staying connected — the more stuff we do together, the better our camaraderie will be.”

Even if the Pistons were interested in making major changes to their roster, they would be tricky to pull off. Detroit has nearly $95MM in guaranteed salary on its books for 2017/18 without counting Aron Baynes‘ $6.5MM player option or Kentavious Caldwell-Pope‘s $9.2MM cap hold, so the team won’t have cap room to work with.

Here’s more from around the Central division:

Tatum, Monk, Other Top Prospects To Skip Combine

10:09pm: V.J. Beachem, Nigel Hayes, Peter Jok, Derrick Walton and Chris Boucher, originally alternative invitees, have now made the official NBA combine list, sources tell Shams Charania of The Vertical (via Twitter).

9:19pm: Lonzo Ball won’t be the only top prospect skipping this year’s NBA draft combine. According to Shams Charania of The Vertical (via Twitter), a handful of other standout prospects expected to be top-10 picks won’t participate in the event next week in Chicago.

[RELATED: Lonzo Ball to skip combine]

Jayson Tatum, Malik Monk, Josh Jackson, Lauri Markkanen, Jonathan Isaac, and Dennis Smith Jr. will skip this year’s combine, Charania reports. While none of those players are quite as highly regarded as Ball, most are in the tier right below him — DraftExpress, which has Ball at No. 2 on its big board, ranks those six players between Nos. 3 and 9.

The mass exodus from this year’s combine leaves Markelle Fultz and De’Aaron Fox as the only elite prospects whose status for the event hasn’t been reported. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see either player – particularly Fultz – skip the combine, as more and more players in recent years have passed on attending and haven’t seen their draft stocks suffer as a result.

For a player like Ball, there’s little upside to attending the combine, since he’s already viewed as a near-lock to be a top-two pick. The event has more appeal to prospects whose stocks aren’t as high, since they could potentially move up a few spots on teams’ draft boards if they have a strong week in Chicago.

As Bobby Marks of The Vertical tweets, the league’s new Collective Bargaining Agreement indicates that the NBA and NBPA have agreed to work on a solution to address this issue.

Notre Dame’s V.J. Beachem To Withdraw From Draft

V.J. Beachem, a junior small forward, will withdraw from the draft and return to Notre Dame next season, tweets Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports, citing Irish coach Mike Brey’s Twitter page. Last month, Beachem announced his intent to enter the draft without hiring an agent, giving him until May 25th to make a final decision.

The 21-year-old had projected as a possible second-round pick, with ESPN’s Chad Ford listing him at No. 58 in his latest rankings and Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress pegging him 60th in his list of the top 100 prospects. Givony places Beachem 20th among college juniors and projects him 42nd in his 2017 mock draft.

The 6’8″ Beachem averaged 12.0 points and 3.9 rebounds in 31.3 minutes per game in his first year as a starter with the Irish. He is an excellent outside shooter, connecting on 44% of his 3-point shots this season and averaging 5.5 attempts per game. Ford says he may have the ability to play both forward spots in the NBA, but he projects as a stretch four.

Notre Dame SF V.J. Beachem To Test Draft Waters

Notre Dame junior small forward V.J. Beachem will enter the draft without an agent, the school announced. The 6’8″ 21-year-old is a second-round prospect, checking in at No. 61 in Chad Ford’s ESPN.com rankings. Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress doesn’t list him among his top 2016 prospects but pegs him 41st in his 2017 mock draft. He’ll be able to retain his college eligibility for next season if he pulls out by May 25th and refrains from hiring an agent.

Beachem holds plenty of promise as an outside shooter, having canned 44.4% of his 3-pointers on 5.5 attempts per game this season. Ford suggests he can play both forward positions, indicating the Fort Wayne, Indiana, native could have a future as a stretch four in the NBA. The ESPN scribe praises his defense, too, but it was only this season that Beachem became a starter for the Irish, and he averaged just 12.0 points and 3.9 rebounds in 31.3 minutes per game this year. Still, he stepped up at key times, striking for a career-high 22 points against eventual Final Four team Syracuse in January and averaging 16.7 points per contest in six total appearances during the ACC and NCAA tournaments.

He was 77th in the Recruiting Services Consensus Index coming out of high school, one spot ahead of Kris Jenkins, who went on to hit the buzzer-beating shot that gave Villanova the national championship this year. Beachem had one of his best games this season against North Carolina, the team that eventually lost to Villanova in the national final, scoring 18 points and playing all but one minute in Notre Dame’s Elite Eight loss.

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