CHICAGO: Immediately after this predraft camp ends, teams get busy hosting private workouts with the draft-eligible players. First up on the Cavs’ list is Ohio State wing LaQuinton Ross, who said Thursday he is scheduled to work out for the Cavs on Monday at Cleveland Clinic Courts.
Ross didn’t have the breakout junior season expected of him with the Buckeyes. He averaged 15.2 points, but his shooting percentages dipped and he struggled defensively.
He declared for the draft anyway, foregoing his senior season to help provide for his 3-year-old daughter, Londyn.
“It wasn’t very tough for me,” he said. “I thought I had a good year and I have a family to support. That’s what I’m trying to do. A lot of people might have had their opinion, but at the end of the day, it’s not their decision.”
Ross called his shot at the buzzer to beat Arizona in the Sweet 16 last year at Staples Center the high point of his college career. But he struggled this season as the Bucks’ main scoring option following the departure of Deshaun Thomas.
He compared himself Thursday to Wilson Chandler or a young Mike Miller. Both of them went in the first round, and while Ross could slip into the first round, he is more likely to be a second-round pick.
“You only have to get one team to like you,” he said.
UConn’s Shabazz Napier won a national championship playing for Kevin Ollie and understands why NBA teams are beginning to look at Ollie for their coaching gigs.
“He’s a great coach because he believes in you,” Napier said. “He understands there’s definitely talent inside you, and sometimes someone else has to tap it out.”
Ollie has received consideration for the Cavs’ opening.
“He pushed us to continue to strive,” Napier said. “He didn’t want us to ever, ever lack anything. That’s what you want beside you. You want somebody who’s going to push you, who’s going to believe in you, who’s going to believe you’re the best player on the court. He did that with every single person on the team. It doesn’t matter if it was me or a walk-on.”
Teams have been known to ask players strange questions in these environments, and this year it appears to be the Minnesota Timberwolves. At least two players at this combine, Michigan’s Nik Stauskas and Arizona’s Aaron Gordon, both said the Timberwolves asked them how many pennies were in $1 million.
“In the middle of a pretty serious interview,” Stauskas said. “It’s one hundred million, of course.”
Gordon took a bit longer. When the Timberwolves asked, he responded “a lot.”
“They timed me,” Gordon said. “After 22 seconds, I said 100 million. Educated guess.”
The top players in every draft typically decline to work out at the combine, but most at least show up to get measured, weighed and interviewed.
This year, however, the consensus top three picks in the draft all stayed home.
Kansas’ Andrew Wiggins, Duke’s Jabari Parker and Kansas’ Joel Embiid all pulled out of the combine within the last few days. Parker and Embiid both dealt with injuries last season, and by withdrawing from the combine, they can control which teams see their medical files. Wiggins simply pulled out when the other two stars did.
“It surprised me they didn’t come at all,” Duke’s Rodney Hood said. “People were asking me why would I work out when everyone else is dropping out? I just want to come out here and compete.”
Former Cavs guard Chris Quinn is attending this predraft camp as an assistant coach at Northwestern. Quinn played the final month with the Cavs last season, then declined overseas opportunities after he was released last summer.
“I have a young family to think about,” said Quinn, who has two young children. “I didn’t want to drag them back overseas. It was time to move on.”
Jason Lloyd can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.