Cheick Diallo has long been known as one of the better shot-blockers in the class, but his offensive game is starting to come around now too. From a baseline out of bounds play, Diallo dove to the rim and put his defender on a poster this powerful dunk.
Tacko Fall rose to national fame after the country saw the talent that he has a 7-foot-5, and showed off continued improvement at the 2014 NBPA Top 100 Camp. Fall improved significantly running the floor and got up even better vertically, as seen by this tip-dunk that he caught on top of a defenders back. Not just showing off his ability to punish the rim, Fall was outstanding running the floor and established deep post position every time he was in the paint. The substantial improvement that he made enabled him to make the NBPA All-Tourney Team.
Thon Maker has been known for his potential on the defensive end ever since he emerged at the John Lucas ISMC years ago and now, things are finally starting to come to fruition. At the 2014 NBPA Top 100 Camp, he emphatically spiked a pair of shots out of bounds, making defenders think twice about bringing the ball in the key against him.
Three and D. It’s a term that is often used to describe players whose strengths are shooting the rock from deep and defending the perimeter. While there aren’t many of them in the league, they come of substantial value. Josh Huestis has the potential to be one of those guys.
Hailing from Great Falls, Montana and then taking his talents to Stanford, Huestis hasn’t necessarily been a name that has been rolling off the tip of the tongue for normal basketball fans. He was named to the All Pac-12 defensive team two years in a row while starting every game over those campaigns in Palo Alto. While his numbers didn’t necessarily reflect it, Josh has the ability to stretch the D too, as we were able to see first hand at Impact Basketball.
In Las Vegas, we were able to see that Josh seemed surprisingly more comfortable shooting the rock from the NBA three than from the college line. He got the ball up effortlessly on the move or with his feet set, showing the potential for what will be a relatively smooth transition. Defensively, he put the clamps on perimeter guys regardless of position. Even though there were a number of guys who were quicker, the psychology major used his smarts and length to grasp how to defend guys on a case by case basis. He didn’t try to body up with guys on the ball, understanding when to keep his distance and then recovering with his size. It’s definitely evident that his Stanford education paid off on this end.
Right there in the second round mix for Thursday’s NBA Draft, Josh has already shown his stuff in front of more than 15 NBA teams in workouts. While he’s not going to blow you away in any particular facet of the game, teams will be banking on Mr. Huestis as one of the league’s next valuable three and D commodities.
Derrick Jones and Ray Smith are two of the better wings in the class of 2015 and at the 2014 NBPA Top 100 Camp, they showed why. Matched up against each other, the two 6-foot-7ish swingmen showcased their athleticism in transition. First, Jones came down and punched a nasty two handed dunk in traffic. Then, Ray Smith came flying down the right wing and banged a dunk on a nameless defender in transition.
Stay tuned to CityLeagueHoops for more video coverage of these two explosive wings.
Thon Maker and Skal Labissiere have long been regarded amongst the top big men in their respective classes and at the 2014 NBPA Top 100 Camp, the two set the tone for the event by squaring off against one and other.
Both near the 7-foot mark, the players have similar games, with a few slight differences. Both are slender big men who excel in running the court. Both have the potential to be dominant shot-blockers, yet don’t always show it. Both have skill sets that allow them to step out and stretch the defense, too. In their matchup, Labissiere did the better of the two with his back to the basket, showcasing his gorgeous right hand jump hook with outstanding extension. Maker, on the other hand, did his work facing the rack. He hit a number of jumpers facing the cup and even showed growth in his own game with his back to the basket.
All in all, both players showed why they will be recruited by virtually every program in the country when it is all said and done.
While in Chicago for NBA Draft workouts, we were fortunate enough to time things perfectly to catch UNC turned D-League shooting guard PJ Hairston. Training with Ernie Ford at the former ATTACK Athletics, we were able to take in an hour long session in which he showed off his effortless range shooting the ball and improved body.
Here is the full interview that we did with PJ touching on the UNC situation, his time in the D-League, and what he is looking to improve on before the Draft:
CityLeagueHoops: What is the most important thing that you learned in your time in the D-League?
PJ Hairston: I feel like it was a learning process for me. Getting to the D-League was just another step in life that I had to take to be successful. It was a learning experience for me playing with guys who had played in the NBA and wanted to get to the NBA. The competition was a lot better there because everyone was playing for something.
CLH: How frustrating was it that everything happened just after you decided to return to UNC, despite the fact that you would have potentially been a first round pick last year?
PH: God chooses different paths for each one of us. Stuff happens, I made mistakes, and I had to go down a different path. At the same time, I regret my mistakes and I’m just glad to be in the position that I”m in today.
CLH: Do you ever wish that you would have just entered the Draft last year when you had the opportunity, given the way that things played out?
PH: Of course. When I thought about it, I thought ‘well, if I would have just entered the Draft, I would have avoided this entire problem.’ Once it happened, I knew that I had to accept my consequences and had to work on my future.
CLH: What are you looking to improve on the most with Coach Ford?
PH: My ball-handling and mid-range game. Also, finishing with contact. My ball-handling has improved a lot since I’ve been working out with him and my mid-range game has definitely gotten a lot better. I just want to be a lot more productive.
CLH: What do you think you’re going to surprise teams with in workouts?
PH: The ability to use my body and my knowledge for the game. My ability to score the basketball and play defense, too.
CLH: What do you plan on buying with your first NBA paycheck?
PH: Well, I already have a car, so….I guess groceries?
Chase Jeter has long been known for his ridiculous ball fakes, and busted out yet another one at the 2014 NBAPA Top 100 Camp, nearly turning his defender in a complete circle. He continues to show considerable growth in his game and is hearing from nearly every school in the country right now, making him arguably the hottest prospect in the class of 2015.
Daniel Miller is one of the more massive prospects in this year’s NBA Draft. At a legit 7’0 and close to 270 pounds, he has the ideal size of a center at the NBA level and some game to back it up. After watching him in person at the ACC tournament in Greensboro, we were able to see him again in the flesh at the BDA Sports pro day in LA.
Perhaps the best screener in college basketball, Miller was notorious for laying guys out throughout his tenure in the ACC. He rebounds his area well and uses his huge body to provide an exceptional presence on the defensive end at the collegiate level. Miller led the ACC in blocks at nearly 3 per game, while also posting respectable averages of 11 points and 8 rebounds per night as a senior.
Miller will likely have to work his way up through training camp or the D-League in order to land on an NBA roster next season, but has the sheer size, shot blocking ability, and toughness to make that a reality with work in the skill department.
Throughout the abundance of talent that was at the Wasserman Media Group pro day workout, the best shooter was clearly Billy Baron. The 6-foot-2 point guard from Canisus has long been known for his ability to shoot it from beyond the NBA three point line, but has really turned into a solid lead guard throughout his time playing for his father over the last two seasons.
Here is an interview with his trainer Fred Cofield on Baron’s chances of making the league, what they are working on in the pre-draft process, and how he is improving as a lead guard.
CityLeagueHoops: Why do you think Billy Baron is an NBA player?
Fred Cofield: That kid has a motor, man. His desire to succeed is incredible. He wants to be an NBA player. He wants to prove to everyone that he can play, so he keeps a big chip on his shoulder. Everyone knows that he can shoot it, but his feel for the game is great.
CLH: What have you been trying to work on him with in the pre-draft process?
FC: He knows he has to set the offense as a point guard. We’ve been working on him with different sets, teaching him how to get over the top on ball screens, and things like that.
CLH: How difficult is it to simulate pick and roll actions without live play?
FC: It’s tough, but it’s repetition. We’ll get him in with Jahii Carson and Marcus, then put him in a situation over and over again. We will keep teaching him. The kid recognizes that this is his shot and this is his time.