- NC State G Anthony Barber
- Maryland F Robert Carter Jr.
- Denain ASC Voltaire G Isaia Cordinier
- Kansas F Perry Ellis
- Syracuse G Michael Gbinije
- Vanderbilt F Damian Jones
- Athlete Institute F Thon Maker
- Kentucky F Alex Poythress
- Kentucky G Tyler Ulis
- California G Tyrone Wallace
- Indiana F Troy Williams
- Arizona G Gabe York
*The Suns had two separate workouts today, thus explaining why there are twelve participants rather than the usual six.
Group One consisted of:
- Barber, Carter Jr., Cordinier, Poythress, Ulis, York
- Ellis, Gbinije, Jones, Maker, Wallace, Williams
Anthony "Cat" Barber
For a man who goes by the name "Cat," Barber sure does have a ton of dog in him.
(Sorry to hit you guys with a pun so early on, but I couldn't resist.)
It is easily apparent that the soft-spoken Barber wears his heart on his sleeve. When asked about what pushed him to make the leap to the NBA right now, Barber talked about reasons that went beyond basketball.
"I had a child. She's eighteen-months now," he said. "I feel like I had to do it not only for me, but for her too."
On the court, the undersized guard packs a mean punch with his score-first mentality, finishing sixth in the nation in scoring at 23.5 points per game. It is hard not to marvel at the way Barber maneuvers picks to open the littlest of creases to get off his smooth shot -- a much needed skill for someone of his stature.
Though he is primarily a scorer, Barber is capable of manipulating defenses with shifty dribble drives and assorted hesitation fakes to set up teammates in the painted areas and in the corners. He could definitely find a role in the league as an energy guy off the bench with the knack for scoring in bunches.
Robert Carter Jr.
DraftExpress Top 100 Prospects Ranking: 44th
Carter has worked hard to slim down from 280 pounds (his playing weight during his two years at Georgia Tech) to 250 pounds, in an effort to help better translate his game to the go-go nature of the NBA.
While at the combine, Carter wowed teams with his versatile offensive skill set -- raining home threes, jump hooks and pick and pop jumpers. All of those skills are "in the now" for NBA GMs, giving Carter some wiggle room when it comes to worrying about his draft stock taking a drastic hit.
"I think I came into the draft process as a second-rounder. Ever since the combine, I have heard a lot of hype because people were able to see more of my versatility," Carter said. "I feel like I am ready for this level. It is perfect for my game."
A focus on improving his athleticism -- yeah, real easy for me to say as I type from behind a computer screen -- will help promote a more consistent effort on the defensive end and make him a better all-around player. The right organization will tap into Carter's talents and make a unique player out of him.
Oh, and Carter is an awesome guy. Right after his session with the media, he called over a team official to take a picture of him speaking with everyone to send back to his mom.
"She is the Facebook queen, man," he said.
Cordinier has good size for his preferred position as a combo guard, making the transition to the NBA an easier pill to swallow. His slight frame will be an immediate cause for concern in his evaluation, but teams will be allured by the untapped potential in Cordinier's corner.
A brief aside: I have nothing but respect for the international players that embark on the endless journey of attending countless draft workouts and petty interviews with us media folk. I can't imagine having to go through the rigors of a media session in your second language. It was hassle just to speak thirty seconds of Spanish to my teacher back in high school.
The most elderly looking prospect that has rolled through the facility thus far, it felt like Ellis played at Kansas for almost a decade. From what was showcased in the workouts, it appeared Ellis' shooting stroke adapted well to the NBA three-point line and he handled the daunting "three-minute run" without any hiccups.
The ramifications of being an elder statesman will likely lead to Ellis being overlooked towards the end of the second round, but would any of us be surprised if the Spurs nabbed him up just for the hell of it?
Man, is Gbinije bigger than I anticipated him to be. Scout and GMs would prefer his wingspan to possess a bit more oomph, but Gbinije still has nice size for his position and will likely prove to be a versatile defender if given the chance.
"Being a versatile player, I think I can adjust right away," he said. "From a defensive perspective, guarding one, two or threes ... I think I will be fine."
The Syracuse guard will likely benefit from the open spaces of the NBA, but he needs to hone done his handle and jump shot in order to assert a role with a team. His size will give him a head start on other prospects with a similar skill set, and he seems to understand that he is ready to make the necessary leap.
"I thought I was ready ... I think [after] going through these workouts, I have proved to myself that I was ready," Gbinije said.
Jones was by far the most intriguing player that I bared witness to today. Combining a rangy body with a sleeker than expected shooting stroke, you can easily see the athleticism ooze out of Jones. The litmus test for most big guys sustaining the demands of the NBA game often can be as simple as watching their fluidity as the gallop up and down the court. Jones passed that test with flying colors to say the least.
Assistant GM Pat Connelly was having some difficulty containing his his enthusiasm for Jones at the conclusion of the workout.
"Very athletic. Very bouncy. Really nice, smart kid. He was an engineering major at Vanderbilt," Connelly said. "Very, very athletically talented and had a good workout. Very bouncy."
For those of you keeping score at home: we had four uses of the word "very," including two instances of the phrase "very bouncy." Get familiar with Mr. Jones everyone because it appears Connelly has a prospect crush.
The mystical talents of Maker made its way to the valley of the sun, but not without some awkward exchanges with personnel with an ASU background; the program in which Maker almost chose to attend.
"I actually didn't think about it until one of the coaches mentioned it. He was like 'You were planning to come to ASU, right?' and I was like 'Ohhhh,'" Maker said. "I didn't think about it until I got in here."
All jokes aside, the most impressive thing about Maker's workout had nothing to do with the workout at all really. Instead, it was mesmerizing to be standing next to such a gigantic man after witnessing a shooting display that was not full of cascading bricks.
A strong work ethic is a tremendous part of Maker's ethos, and that figures to translate well to the next level. He was visibly mad at himself for not shooting the ball up to what he thought was his capabilities, and went on to shoot countless amounts of jumpers once the workout ended as a result.
Having that mantra engrained in your DNA, at that age, at that size? NBA GMs are going to not know what to do with their drool.
DraftExpress Top 100 Prospects Ranking: 81st
Remember in NBA 2k13 when you could download user-generated draft classes to embed into your "association mode?" Poythress was always pegged as a top five pick by the degenerates who had enough time to configure an entire draft class.
As the years have gone on, Poythress' stock has fallen so much that DraftExpress is unwillingly to slot him in a draft-worthy position. Perhaps the mystery behind Poythress is too minimal given the exposure he was provided at Kentucky, and that has contributed to his diminished prospects.
With all of that said, Poythress fits right into the nature of today's game and normally guys that boast his combination of size and athleticism do not go undrafted.
Ulis is one of my favorite prospects in the draft, and falls right in line with the stereotypical "small guy getting overlooked" narrative.
"I feel like the game is getting smaller. With the way the Warriors are playing -- spacing the floor out, relying on the three-point shot a lot," Ulis said. "I feel like with the open spacing I can use my IQ and my quickness to my advantage."
The Suns are far from needing another point guard on the roster, but I am already upset with the idea of some heady organization snatching Ulis up in the late teens and turning him into a star. The Pistons are my favorite destination for him thus far.
Speaking of tall guards, Wallace was striking with his sheer length on the court today. From what I could see, the nifty lefty struggled with his shot during the shooting drills. But that is not where the Cal product eats, and I wish I was given the opportunity to see how he fared in a three-on-three setting.
If Wallace finds an NBA path, it will be because of his potency for penetrating the lane and creating for not only himself, but also for his teammates.
The media did not get the chance to speak to Williams after the workout, but that doesn't mean that the Indiana product did not provide a show. In an unfortunate circumstance, I was unable to uncork my phone from my pocket in time to video a mini dunk contest that featured Williams providing an aerial assault.
What an opportunity lost to enhance my street cred on Twitter.
DraftExpress Top 100 Prospects Ranking: Not Ranked
One of the nicest guys that I have come across thus far, the locally-produced York is not taking the opportunity to work out in front of NBA teams for granted.
"Being in the situation that I am in, [I am] just trying to come out here to prove everyday that I am more than just a shooter," York said. "I honestly do not think too many people knew about my athleticism. So yeah, it is definitely encouraging to be a part of any NBA team and come to any pre-draft workout."
York was right, as a follow-up question asked about the specifics of his vertical.
"I have been anywhere from 37-40 [inches] ... and that is still not even my best," York exclaimed.
The worst thing about this whole experience for me is interacting with prospects that are genuinely good people, but are subject to the grueling reality of natural selection. Not every prospect is going to be fortunate enough to make their mark in the NBA, and even a player with York's talents and resume is likely to not be given the opportunity to be drafted.
Indeed, it is a sad state of affairs, but it should only produce more respect for the athletes that do have the requisite talent to be regarded as one of the top basketball players in the world.
Well, on that melancholy note, I will bid you all ado.
That's a wrap on a looooooooong day 7. Stay tuned for more pre-draft workout coverage coming this Thursday!
Have a great Memorial Day everyone.