Arizona Basketball

Arizona Wildcats NBA scouting combine notes: Day 4


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Rondae Hollis-Jefferson was measured with a  32-inch standing vertical leap, 15th best among the prospects in Chicago this week (YouTube video capture)

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson was measured with a 32-inch standing vertical leap, 15th best among the prospects in Chicago this week (YouTube video capture)

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Last day quick reads of the Arizona Wildcats’ experiences at the NBA scouting combine in Chicago:

Although it is unlikely Stanley Johnson will be around for Boston’s No. 16 pick in the first round, he met with Celtics coach Brad Stevens while in Chicago for the NBA scouting combine.

“He was just cool,” the former Arizona Wildcats player said of Stevens. “He was always super cool, and I was always impressed with what he did at Butler.”

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Former Arizona Wildcats point guard T.J. McConnell and fellow guards Quinn Cook (Duke) and Ryan Boatright (UConn) tied for the smallest hands at the NBA scouting combine, at 7½ inches. Arkansas guard Michael Qualls’s 4 percent body fat was the lowest, and Kentucky center Dakari Johnson’s 14.9 percent was the highest.

Obviously the size of hands don’t matter for efficiency. McConnell continued his quality assist-to-turnover ratio at the NBA scouting. He had 11 assists with only four turnovers in the two games.

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SB Nation’s Cleveland Cavaliers site ran an analysis of former Arizona Wildcats small forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson today after his performance in the NBA scouting combine. Just how would Hollis-Jefferson fit in with LeBron James, playing practically the same position? The Cavaliers have the No. 24 in the first round.

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“The Cavs are a decent landing spot for Hollis-Jefferson, because he would never be asked to create his own offense, and would be a nice insurance policy if (Iman) Shumpert leaves in free agency this summer,” Trevor Magnotti writes. “Hollis-Jefferson would fit well as an off-ball cutter next to LeBron, Kyrie Irving and J.R. Smith, and if Shump is still around, you could throw out fun units with Shump, RHJ, and LeBron together and completely lock down the perimeter.

“I don’t think RHJ is a perfect wing fit for this team, because I’d like another shooter on the bench replacing (Mike) Miller and/or (James) Jones, but if he’s available at pick 24, the Cavs should consider him because he could eventually help plug a lot of holes for this team on the defensive end.”

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ESPN NBA draft insider Chad Ford peculiarly does not think much of Johnson’s NBA draft stock after the scouting combine.

Ford believes Johnson will slip all the way to the No. 15 pick in the first round for Atlanta, and out of the lottery selection.

“While I’m not sold that Johnson is a star, I do think he’s going to be in the league a long time and would be perfect on a team that’s competing for a championship,” Ford writes.

Sounds like Ford is going off the analysis of only a couple of NBA personnel executives for his low assessment of Johnson’s ability.

In February, Ford wrote: “There are some holes. Scouts worry he isn’t an elite athlete, that he struggles to finish at the rim and, despite a reputation as an elite defender, he takes plays off. They think he’ll be in the league a long time, but some scouts wonder if he’ll be more of a solid player than superstar. Look for Johnson to go as high as six and as low as 12.”

Obviously, Ford thinks less of him to put him now at No. 15.

“I want to love him,” one GM was quoted as saying by Ford. “My scouts all loved him in high school. I’ve watched him live four times and every time come away with the same thought: ‘He’s pretty good.’ But pretty good isn’t going to make you a great NBA player. He’s a good athlete, a good shooter, a good defender, a good motor. He has a great body but doesn’t always use any of those skills to his advantage. If he were the athlete that (Justise) Winslow was, I’d love him. But he isn’t, and I just feel he’ll be pretty good. If those are your expectations, great. If they’re higher, I think you’re going to be disappointed.”

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The Arizona Daily Star’s Bruce Pascoe, in Chicago for the NBA scouting combine, confirmed in his report of Brandon Ashley today that Arizona’s coaches did not think he would return to the program after his sophomore season. But that was before his season-ending foot injury in the 2013-14 season.

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Sean Miller and his staff recruited Henderson (Nev.) Findlay Prep standout Craig Victor, from the same program that produced Ashley, to fill the potential void left by Ashley last season if he did not get hurt.

Ashley stayed and Victor bolted to LSU at midseason because of a lack of playing time. If the injury to Ashley did not occur, Victor would likely still be with the Wildcats. As it turned out, Victor should have bide his time with Ashley on the roster. He could have challenged Boston College transfer Ryan Anderson for playing time in 2015-16 at power forward.

Miller had a void at the power forward position before landing San Francisco transfer Mark Tollefsen for one season.

In terms of Ashley’s NBA potential and whether he should have stayed his senior season, at least the former Wildcat player is realistic about the unknown that lies ahead in his pro career.

“Even if I do go second round or undrafted, I’m still blessed to have this opportunity,” Ashley told Pascoe. “And life goes on. I’ll continue to work hard and one way or another I’m gonna find my way into the NBA. So I’m not really too worried about it.”

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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