Vernon Carey Jr.

Draft Rumors: Hayes, Nesmith, Anthony, Okongwu, Hawks, More

In his latest mock draft in advance of tonight’s event, Jeremy Woo of SI.com shares several interesting tidbits, writing that Killian Hayes is “strongly in play” for the Pistons at No. 7 and suggesting there’s some concern about Aaron Nesmith‘s injured foot, which ended his season at Vanderbilt.

Woo also hears from sources that Cole Anthony has interviewed in recent days with multiple teams outside the top 20 and that the Celtics and Spurs would be among the teams with interest in Onyeka Okongwu if he slides out of the top 10 due to his foot injury.

Woo reports that there’s “significant traction” for Devin Vassell within the Knicks‘ front office, making him a viable option at No. 8 if the team stays put. Finally, Woo says the Celtics have shown interest in Duke big man Vernon Carey Jr., who could be an option at No. 26 or No. 30.

Here’s more on the 2020 NBA draft:

  • The Hawks are currently planning to keep and use the No. 6 pick tonight, a source tells Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report (Twitter link). That could change if Atlanta gets a surprise last-minute offer, Wasserman cautions, but for the time being, it sounds as if the team is comfortable staying put.
  • We still don’t know with any certainty which player the Timberwolves will select with the No. 1 pick tonight, but Georgia guard Anthony Edwards has emerged as the betting favorite at Las Vegas sportsbooks, writes David Purdum of ESPN.com.
  • While USC big man Onyeka Okongwu may not be ready for training camp due to a foot injury, it sounds like the issue shouldn’t impact his draft stock too significantly. One source who spoke to Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer (Twitter link) predicted that Okongwu will still likely come off the board before the Wizards pick at No. 9.

Heat Notes: Leonard, Carey, Achiuwa, Scrubb

Reiterating a point he made in a previous interview, Heat center Meyers Leonard told Jeremy Werner of 247Sports.com that when he considers his options in free agency, he’ll be looking for a spot where he can contend, rather than one where he can try to put up big numbers.

“I don’t give a damn about numbers. I care about winning,” Leonard said. “I think that they knew that in Miami. I know that (coach Erik Spoelstra) and my teammates sure as hell did. I would tell Bam (Adebayo) often, ‘I don’t give a damn about rebound numbers. You go grab 15, and I’ll block out their best rebounder and you come grab them.'”

Leonard also said that he thinks a reunion is a possibility, but that he’s prepared to consider other landing spots if the Heat decide to move on.

“The NBA is a business. I think there’s mutual interest between Miami and I, but we’ll see,” he said. “There’s other teams that are very interested. I’m in a good spot.”

Here’s more on the Heat:

  • The Heat conducted a private, in-person workout last week with Duke big man Vernon Carey Jr., according to Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald (Twitter link). Carey is only the No. 43 prospect on ESPN’s big board but has received some first-round buzz and could be an option for Miami at No. 20.
  • Carey is far from the only draft-eligible frontcourt player receiving interest from the Heat. The team also recently worked out Memphis’ Precious Achiuwa and has interest in Maryland’s Jalen Smith, Jackson writes for The Herald. ESPN ranks both players in its top 20.
  • The Heat have conducted two interviews with 6’6″ shooting guard Jay Scrubb, a source tells Jackson. The No. 76 prospect on ESPN’s board, Scrubb is considered one of 2020’s best junior college prospects. Within the same Herald article, Jackson notes that Miami has also interviewed Stanford guard Tyrell Terry.

Draft Notes: Mouaha, Ebeling, Achiuwa, Knicks

The NCAA’s withdrawal deadline for the 2020 NBA draft has long since passed, but the NBA’s own deadline falls 10 days before the draft. That means that a number of international prospects – for whom the NCAA deadline didn’t apply – face final decisions on whether or not to keep their names in this year’s draft pool.

Cameroonian guard Aristide Mouaha and Italian forward Michele Ebeling are two international early entrants who have decided to pull out of the draft, according to a pair of reports from Nicola Lupo of Sportando. Both prospects are currently playing in Italy. Ebeling will become automatically draft-eligible in 2021, while Mouaha is on track to be draft-eligible in 2022 if he doesn’t re-enter his name next year.

As our tracker shows, we still have 34 international prospects listed as early entrants for 2020. It’s safe to assume that many more will withdraw before the November 8 deadline — I’d expect that list to be cut at least in half within the next couple days.

Here’s more on the 2020 NBA draft:

  • Former Memphis big man Precious Achiuwa worked out for the Wizards earlier this week and is working out for the Celtics on Friday, according to Adam Zagoria of Forbes (Twitter link). Achiuwa is the 12th overall prospect on ESPN’s big board, so both Washington at No. 9 and Boston at No. 14 could in play for him.
  • In a pair of Insider articles for ESPN.com, Jonathan Givony, Mike Schmitz, and Kevin Pelton discuss the best wings and big men of this year’s draft class. All three experts rate Deni Avdija as the top wing in the draft, with Givony and Schmitz placing Isaac Okoro second while Pelton takes Devin Vassell. In a bit of a surprise, both Givony and Schmitz pick Onyeka Okongwu over James Wiseman as the top big man prospect.
  • While the Knicks’ No. 8 pick has been the main focus, the team is working diligently on its options at No. 27 and 38 and is hoping to find a “diamond in the rough,” a source tells Marc Berman of The New York Post. Berman examines former Arizona shooting guard Josh Green and Duke center Vernon Carey Jr. as a couple potential late-first-round options for New York, citing one talent evaluator who says Green would be a “perfect fit” for the team.

LaMelo Ball Headlines List Of Draft Combine Participants

Potential No. 1 overall pick LaMelo Ball will be among the prospects participating in the revamped virtual draft combine this week, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic. Ball is scheduled to take part in team interviews and a media session this week, but may not participate in any other portion, Jeremy Woo of SI.com cautions (via Twitter).

While Ball’s participation might be limited, many of this year’s other top prospects aren’t taking part in the event at all. As Woo points out (via Twitter), Anthony Edwards, James Wiseman, Obi Toppin, Onyeka Okongwu, Cole Anthony, Aaron Nesmith, Devin Vassell, and Saddiq Bey are among the players who don’t appear on the list of participants sent out by the NBA.

The list of top prospects besides Ball who will be participating in the event includes Precious Achiuwa, Deni Avdija, Tyrese Haliburton, RJ Hampton, Killian Hayes, Theo Maledon, and Isaac Okoro, among others.

Here’s the full list of combine participants, via Charania:

  1. Precious Achiuwa, F, Memphis
  2. Ty-Shon Alexander, G, Creighton
  3. Deni Avdija, F, Maccabi Tel Aviv (Israel)
  4. Udoka Azubuike, C, Kansas
  5. LaMelo Ball, G, Illawarra Hawks (Australia)
  6. Desmond Bane, G, TCU
  7. Tyler Bey, F, Colorado
  8. Vernon Carey Jr., C, Duke
  9. Yoeli Childs, F, BYU
  10. Mamadi Diakite, F, Virginia
  11. Devon Dotson, G, Kansas
  12. Paul Eboua, F, VL Pesaro (Italy)
  13. CJ Elleby, F, Washington State
  14. Malachi Flynn, G, San Diego State
  15. Trent Forrest, G, Florida State
  16. Josh Green, G/F, Arizona
  17. Ashton Hagans, G, Kentucky
  18. Tyrese Haliburton, G, Iowa State
  19. Josh Hall, F, Moravian Prep
  20. RJ Hampton, G, New Zealand Breakers (New Zealand)
  21. Jalen Harris, G, Nevada
  22. Killian Hayes, G, Ratiopharm Ulm (Germany)
  23. Markus Howard, G, Marquette
  24. Elijah Hughes, G/F, Syracuse
  25. Isaiah Joe, G, Arkansas
  26. Mason Jones, G, Arkansas
  27. Tre Jones, G, Duke
  28. Nathan Knight, F/C, William & Mary
  29. Kira Lewis, G, Alabama
  30. Theo Maledon, G, ASVEL (France)
  31. Karim Mane, G, Vanier College (Canada)
  32. Nico Mannion, G, Arizona
  33. Naji Marshall, F, Xavier
  34. Kenyon Martin Jr., F, IMG Academy
  35. Skylar Mays, G, LSU
  36. Jaden McDaniels, F, Washington
  37. Sam Merrill, G, Utah State
  38. Zeke Nnaji, F, Arizona
  39. Jordan Nwora, F, Louisville
  40. Isaac Okoro, F, Auburn
  41. Daniel Oturu, C, Minnesota
  42. Reggie Perry, F, Mississippi State
  43. Myles Powell, G, Seton Hall
  44. Payton Pritchard, G, Oregon
  45. Immanuel Quickley, G, Kentucky
  46. Jahmi’us Ramsey, G, Texas Tech
  47. Paul Reed, F, DePaul
  48. Nick Richards, F/C, Kentucky
  49. Grant Riller, G, Charleston
  50. Jay Scrubb, G, John A. Logan College
  51. Jalen Smith, F, Maryland
  52. Cassius Stanley, G, Duke
  53. Lamar Stevens, F, Penn State
  54. Isaiah Stewart, F/C, Washington
  55. Tyrell Terry, G, Stanford
  56. Xavier Tillman, F/C, Michigan State
  57. Kaleb Wesson, F/C, Ohio State
  58. Kahlil Whitney, F, Kentucky
  59. Cassius Winston, G, Michigan State
  60. Robert Woodard II, F, Mississippi State

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the NBA is unable to hold its typical in-person draft combine this year, but the league has put together an alternative combine that will feature interviews through videoconferencing as well as the making of “pro day” videos, which will include strength and agility testing, anthropometric measurements, and shooting drills. Participants will also undergo medical testing and exams.

For more details on this year’s combine, be sure to check out our full story on the changes.

Arizona’s Josh Green Entering 2020 NBA Draft

Arizona freshman swingman Josh Green is entering his name into the 2020 NBA draft pool, he confirmed today to ESPN’s Jonathan Givony.

Green is the third Wildcats underclassman to declare for the draft, joining teammates Nico Mannion and Zeke Nnaji. All three project to be possible first-round picks. Coming in at No. 21 overall on ESPN’s big board, Green slots in between Mannion (No. 14) and Nnaji (No. 34).

In 30 games (30.9 MPG) as a freshman, Green averaged 12.0 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 2.6 APG, and 1.5 SPG with a .424/.361/.780 shooting line.

In his scouting report, Mike Schmitz of ESPN notes that Green doesn’t have an elite skill on the offensive end, but is a versatile defender and improved shooter who has an ideal physical profile for an NBA wing.

Green is the second potential first-round pick to declare today for the draft, joining Duke’s Vernon Carey Jr. Carey’s father confirmed that his son has officially declared for the draft and will sign with agent Jeff Wechsler for representation, tweets Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports.

Duke’s Vernon Carey Jr. Expected To Go Pro

Duke freshman center Vernon Carey Jr. is expected to be declare for the NBA draft with the intention of staying in and going pro, a source tells Jeff Goodman of Stadium (Twitter link).

In his first and potentially only season as a Blue Devil, Carey averaged 17.8 PPG, 8.8 RPG, and 1.6 BPG in 31 games (24.9 MPG). He shot 57.7% from the field and even made 38.1% of his tries from beyond the arc, albeit on just 21 three-point attempts.

Carey, currently ranked No. 28 on ESPN’s big board, has shown the makings of an inside-outside game and is a very strong positional rebounder, ESPN’s Mike Schmitz writes in his scouting report. Schmitz cautions that the big man has dealt with some health and conditioning issues and struggles with defending in space and seeing the floor when passing.

Here’s more on the 2020 NBA draft:

  • Iowa big man Luka Garza, ranked 81st on ESPN’s big board, announced on Twitter that he is entering the draft while maintaining his college eligibility. Garza had a big year in 2019/20 as a junior, averaging 23.9 PPG, 9.8 RPG, and 1.8 BPG on .542/.358/.651 shooting in 31 games (32.0 MPG).
  • Mississippi State junior guard Nick Weatherspoon, who tweeted a farewell message today to fans, will be declaring for the draft and going pro, sources confirm to Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports (Twitter link). Weatherspoon, who first tested the draft waters in 2018, increased his averages to 11.6 PPG and 4.1 APG in 2019/20. He projects to go undrafted.
  • Creighton junior guard Ty-Shon Alexander is expected to enter the draft and will likely forgo his remaining college eligibility, a source tells Jeff Goodman of Stadium (Twitter link). Alexander is coming off a big year in which he led the Bluejays with 16.9 PPG while chipping in 5.0 RPG, 2.3 APG, and 1.3 SPG while making 39.9% of his threes.
  • In case you missed it, we wrote earlier this afternoon about how NBA teams hope to convince the league to push the draft back until at least August.