Joel Embiid is expected to sit out his entire rookie season, but that hasn’t stopped him from being a millionaire in other areas. Sources have confirmed that the Philadelphia 76ers rookie has signed a multi-million dollar shoe deal with adidas, joining Dante Exum, Andrew Wiggins, and Marcus Smart. Exact terms were not disclosed, but it was confirmed that it was a multi-year deal for the 7’0 native of Cameroon.
Tyler Ennis is one of Canada’s best players to come out in recent years, and also one whom we have been tracking for quite some time. We dug into the vault and released a bunch of stuff that had been sitting there throughout Ennis’ remarkably impressive grassroots career with CIA Bounce, in camps, and playing for Canada at the Nike Global Challenge. While he was never necessarily a highlight guy, the Phoenix Suns draft pick was outstanding running the pick and roll, and always seemed to control the tempo o the game from a very young age.
LeBron James crushed the city of Cleveland with the ‘decision’ and four years later, there is another one to be made. It has been widely speculated that he will be making a return to the city of Cleveland to join a freshly extended Kyrie Iriving and Co., immediately making the Cavaliers championship contenders. Throughout the last few years, we have filmed much of the Cavs’ roster in high school games, AAU tournaments, and NBA Draft workouts, leaving you with the idea of what the team could potentially look like if the King were to ultimately return to C-Town.
Roy Devyn Marble is one of the more unique prospects. At 6-foot-6, he spent time playing all three perimeter positions for spurts for Iowa this year. The versatility that he offers on the hardwood has made him a viable draft prospect, which we saw in the flesh at the Wasserman Media Group pro day. Showcasing his athleticism, ball skills, and length, it was easy to see why he’s considered to be a second round pick in tonight’s NBA Draft.
CityLeagueHoops: What are you working on with Roy Devynn during the pre-draft process?
Fred Cofield: RD is working with our strength guys and is getting a little stronger. We’re trying to get him a lot more shots and time playing at the 1. We think that he can be a big 1. Just trying to get him to run an offense, so we’ve been working on his ball-handling and getting him to understand the point guard position from an NBA perspective.
CLH: Why do you think RD is a definite NBA player?
Fred Cofield: Those four years helped him. He’s played in college so he understands what’s expected of him, so he’s ready to make that transition to the pros. He has a great skill set, shoots the ball very well, and understands the game.
Aaron Gordon was one of the most exciting players in the class of 2013, both at the high school level and during his time with the Oakland Soldiers. The 6-foot-9 power forward continued that similar style of play during his lone campaign at Arizona and while he didn’t put up huge numbers, did enough to land himself in the lottery of tonight’s NBA Draft.
Here is our interview with AG after his BDA Sports pro day workout, touching on his free throws, the improvements he’s made with Charlie Torres, and where he’s hearing he will be selected in tonight’s NBA Draft.
CityLeagueHoops: What are you looking to improve on the most in the pre-draft process?
Aaron Gordon: My free throws. That’s the number one thing that I’m looking to improve and I’m steady improving it.
CLH: You shot the ball pretty well today in the workout, so what’s the problem? Is it mental?
AG: It was mental before. Now that I’m shooting more, I’m shooting better. I’ve got my form better and I thought I shot it decent today.
CLH: With the work that you’ve done with Charlie Torres and Drew Hanlen, what are some of the biggest improvements that you’ve seen in your game?
AG: My knowledge for the game. I’ve become a lot more creative and learn a new move with them every single day. Basketball is so unique in that there is so much that is undiscovered. There are so many things that haven’t been used in games. Every day I’ve just been more creative and am still learning more moves for myself.
CLH: You’re still 18 years old and will be the youngest player in the league when you play your first game. What do you think some of the immediate transitions that you’re going to have are?
AG: Well, I”m the youngest player in this year’s draft class and I can’t act like it. I have to be a mature basketball player.
CLH: What do you think the biggest improvement that you made at Arizona was?
AG: It’s gotta be mentality. I kind of held back a little bit just for the team. I”m ready to let go now and benefit the team even more. I just learned a little bit more about myself, the game of basketball, and team work.
CLH: In high school, you always had the rep of being an undersized power forward. Now that you measured 6’9, does it feel good to shoot that down?
AG: No man, I don’t care at all. Everybody talks. Everybody has something to say. I know who I am.
CLH: You’re a guy who has been mentioned as going as high as five, but potentially as low as ten. What have you been hearing your range is?
AG: I’ve heard anywhere from 3-8, but it’s whatever man. I’m just looking to get on a team and contribute.
The biggest player in the NBA Draft has been putting in a lot of work. At 7-foot-5, Bhullar would step in the NBA and immediately be the league’s tallest player. At Impact Basketball in Las Vegas, the center did the majority of his work in the conditioning department, but showed off some of the skills that have made him a viable Draft prospect. Sim was great establishing low post position on the blocks, showed of an exceptionally soft touch, and actually shot the ball well from the perimeter. Naturally, there are significant questions about Sim’s mobility and ability to get out to defend the pick and roll. However, he has placed himself in a position to potentially be India’s first player in the NBA.
Throughout the pre-draft process, we stopped by the Priority Sports gym in Chicago. With Doug McDermott out of town, the highest profile player in the gym was Michigan’s Nik Stauskas. The 6-foot-6 shooting guard showed off his deceptive athleticism, shot the lights out of the ball, and had no problem adjusting to the NBA three point line.
Here is the full interview that we did with Stauskas touching on going under the radar in high school, what he improved on at Michigan, and what he worked on during pre-draft.
CityLeagueHoops: You’re a guy who was slept on throughout high school and now throughout your college career. How much does that drive you?
Nik Stauskas: It’s driven me a lot. I’ve always felt like I have a chip on my shoulder and always felt that I’ve had something to prove. It’s good to have that because it’s easy to stay motivated.
CLH: How do you think everyone missed on you?
NS: I think even when I came to Michigan, everyone felt ‘he’s just a shooter.’The things that I was doing this year, while I wasn’t as athletic and fluid, I was doing back in high school. I always had the reputation as a guy who could hit shots, so that just stuck with me for a while.
CLH: What do you think some of the biggest improvements you made at Michigan were?
NS: I have a long way to go as far as strength goes, but I definitely put on some muscle at Michigan. I’m still real thin, so I have a long way to go. On the court, just getting to the basket, taking contact, and things like that. The game is just so physical at the college level, so initiating and absorbing contact is one thing that I’ve really worked on.
CLH: What do you think you’re going to surprise teams with in workouts?
NS: When teams put me in pick and roll, they’re going to see my IQ for the game and how well I can read different situations. I feel like that’s one of the best parts of my game. I’m a smart player and like making the right play.
CLH: What are you looking to improve upon the most in the pre-draft process?
NS: The biggest thing has been working on my ball-handling, getting it tighter and quicker. You can never stop working on your ball-handling and once you get to the next level, it will give me more opportunities.
CLH: It seems as if virtually the entire Michigan team is filled with guys who went under the radar, but now are on the verge of being NBA players. Is this something that you ever talked about?
NS: We didn’t talk about it, but we had a lot of guys like myself who had a chip on their shoulder. We’ve all been talented since high school and were just overlooked. Coach Beilien gave us a great opportunity to prove ourselves and show the world how hard we’ve worked.
Marcus Smart could be in the NBA right now. He had the opportunity to be the #2 pick in the NBA Draft last season, but surprised many when he opted to return to Oklahoma State for his sophomore campaign. We caught up with him in LA, where he was training with the rest of Wasserman Media Group’s loaded class during their pro day.
Here is a short interview that we did with Smart’s trainer, Fred Cofield.
CityLeagueHoops: What impresses you most about Marcus as a draft prospect?
Fred Cofield: His maturity. He’s a leader, is respectful, and can be a leader at the next level. If you look at him, he’s a physical specimen. The kid is so strong and gifted. The thing that people talk about is him shooting the ball and as you saw at his pro day, he’s working at it.
CLH: He definitely shot the ball much better than I was expecting. What else have you been working on?
FC: I think the biggest thing is his confidence. He feels really good where his game is and I think a lot of that has to do with his shooting. He’s moved on from college, understands what’s expected of him, and I think the agents have prepared him how to deal with scenarios like what happened in college. They’ve discussed things so much and he’s moved on while accepting responsiblity. Now he can concentrate on basketball and shooting.
It’s been a crazy ride for Derryck Thornton. Once donned by most as the top point guard int he 2016 class, Thornton has seen himself drop in the national rankings, despite leading one of the best high school programs in the country as just a sophomore. Having made a decision to switch AAU programs, Derryck wasn’t seen as much on the national level as he was earlier, but he showed the country the progress that he made at the 2014 NBPA Top 100 Camp, where he was named finals MVP.
Shortly thereafter, Thornton made the journey to Lexington to visit Kentucky unofficially. Not only did he enjoy the visit, but he picked up an offer from the Wildcats in the process.
“It went really well,” his father Derryck said of the visit. “Derryck got to play against the players that are there got to hang with the Harrison twins.”
With a ‘no days off’ mentality, the 6-foot-2 point guard had no problem competing with some of the SEC’s best after finishing things up at NBPA. During the camp, he showed significant growth from when the season ended at Findlay Prep, both physically and in his game itself. He was adept running the pick and roll, showing great timing and IQ when it came to accepting or rejecting the screens. Once Derryck did that, he made a number of great pocket passes with his left (opposite) hand, yet still maintained himself as a scoring threat every time he had the rock in his hands. Calipari must have obviously heard of the aforementioned improvement, causing him to throw the scholarship on the table.
“When Cal offered, Derryck was really happy,” the elder Thornton added. “He loves UK.”
Not rushing the recruitment process at all, do not expect a commitment from Derryck anytime soon. One thing that you can expect from Thornton is constant improvement in his game, though.
There were a number of highlights at the NBPA Top 100 Camp and while the vast majority were dunks, Damon Wilson got in the mix with his shooting ability. The Pitt commit hit this three quarter court buzzer beater during the championship game to wow onlookers sitting courtside.