Arizona Basketball

Arizona Wildcats NBA Scouting Combine notes: Day One


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Rondae Hollis-Jefferson needs work on his perimeter shooting but he's got the defensive skills of a first-rounder (CBSSports.com graphic)

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson needs work on his perimeter shooting but he’s got the defensive skills of a first-rounder (CBSSports.com graphic)

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A daily dose of everything written about the four Arizona Wildcats in the NBA Scouting Combine in Chicago:

STANLEY JOHNSON

From the Detroit Free Press: The Detroit Pistons will look for a small forward starting with the NBA Scouting Combine. With Caron Butler, Cartier Martin and Tayshaun Prince well into their 30’s and their futures uncertain, an infusion of young talent on the wings is a must. Most mock drafts have the Pistons taking Stanley Johnson at No. 8 overall (although the Pistons could move into the top three at the draft lottery May 19). Johnson is a wing who played with the Arizona Wildcats who left after one season. Although he won’t be 19 until the end of May, he already has an NBA body (6-foot-7, 245 pounds).

Knicks’ site at NBA.com: Members of the Knicks front office staff will head to Chicago this week for the NBA Scouting Combine, as they own at least a top five pick in this year’s draft. The NBA Draft Lottery will reveal the final order on May 19. There are several exciting prospects that will take part in some or all of the events scheduled at the combine. A few of the names that could be in play for New York are in no specific order: D’Angelo Russel (Ohio State), Justise Winslow (Duke), Willie Cauley-Stein (Kentucky), Stanley Johnson (Arizona Wildcats), Myles Turner (Texas), and senior Frank Kaminsky (Wisonconsin).

Assessment of Johnson by USA Today: There is certainly a lot to like in Johnson’s game. His combination of size, strength, quickness, and instincts could make him the best defensive prospect … Add in a steady, surprising three-point shot, with Johnson shooting 37.1% from three point range, and a knack for setting his teammates up, and Johnson is a pretty safe bet to have a long, productive NBA career. The major concern is Johnson’s struggles finishing at the hoop. While a good overall athlete, he’s not explosive around the rim, especially when elevating in traffic. That, combined with some questionable touch around the rim, led to some of Johnson’s struggles. While not being a great threat as a scorer off of dribble penetration might hold Johnson back from being a top offensive option on a team, his overall game still makes him an incredibly valuable prospect.

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BRANDON ASHLEY

Philadelphia 76ers analysis in Bleacher Report: Also look for people like Cliff Alexander and Brandon Ashley to generate some buzz as the draft nears. Neither is a first-round talent, but each bring size and the ability to rebound to the table. Those are two factors that translate into the NBA relatively smoothly. The Sixers literally own one-sixth of the NBA’s second-round picks. A successful selection could provide immediate help as well as long-term depth in the future.

RONDAE HOLLIS-JEFFERSON

From MassLive.com (Boston Celtics coverage): The Celtics have four picks and should be very active this summer. Team president of basketball operations Danny Ainge could trade some of those selections or use them on players to stash overseas. If he keeps both of his first-round picks, ESPN’s Jeff Goodman predicted Monday the Celtics will take Rondae Hollis-Jefferson with the 16th pick and R.J. Hunter at No. 28.

In his latest mock draft, here’s what Goodman had to say about Hollis-Jefferson, a 6-foot-7 small forward (7-foot-1 wingspan) from Arizona: Danny Ainge has a ton of picks, so he could certainly move up (or even down). The most pressing needs are shooters, and also an athletic wing with size. The truth is Ainge will go for the player he thinks have the highest upside. While Hollis-Jefferson isn’t much of a shooter, he will improve, and he’s a tough kid who brings length, athleticism and a guy who can really defend.

T.J. McCONNELL

From Bruce Pascoe’s blog at The Arizona Daily Star: “T.J. will do well in drills but first and foremost, he’s a basketball player,” his agent Chris Emens said. “Playing five-on-five gives him chance to showcase his strength and value to the NBA, which is running a team, facilitating for others, defending and competing. Some guys will wow people in a workout and in our business we call them “workout wonders’ … T.J.’s not exceptionally sized and he doesn’t have exceptional athleticism, but he’s got an off-the-charts basketball IQ, intensity, competitiveness and desire to win.”

From his updated draft scouting report on Draft Express: While his ceiling may be limited, pretty much any NBA team could find a spot for McConnell and his ability to lead a bench unit in a backup or third point guard capacity. He’ll need to show he can overcome his average physical tools to impact the game with his point guard skills and defensive ability in pre-draft workouts. If he can do so, he could play his way onto a NBA roster this season, even if he doesn’t get drafted, and regardless will a long professional career.

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Discuss this post in our Talk of Tucson Message Board: Where do you think Arizona’s players will be drafted?
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He has also written articles for Bleacher Report and Lindy’s College Sports.

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