As expected, several players with links to North Carolina helped themselves in last week’s NBA Draft Combine in Chicago.
One of the biggest winners in the predraft showcase was NC State recruit Jalen Lecque. The high schooler is eligible for the draft after taking a post-grad year at the Brewster Academy, and, after his Chicago performance, the odds of him ever suiting up for the Wolfpack are getting slimmer by the day.
Lecque captured everyone’s attention by having the highest max vertical leap of anyone tested. His 43 inches was a half-inch more than anyone else. His 35-inch standing leap was second best. He also participated in day one of scrimmages, scoring four points with four rebounds and four assists. After reportedly getting positive feedback from several teams, Lecque decided he’d done enough and sat out day two.
Like many of the first-round prospects, Nassir Little didn’t scrimmage. The Tar Heels freshman still helped himself immensely in Chicago. He impressed teams with his 7-foot-1¼ wingspan and had the seventh-best max vertical leap (second-best among guards). His three-quarter court sprint time of 3.24 was second-best time for guards.
He participated in the shooting drills, hitting 80 percent in on-the-move shooting, the third-best overall performance of the combine. He also hit 80 percent from the left corner and 80 percent from the top of the key, both second best among guards.
Several outlets also reported that Little was very impressive in his interviews with teams, speaking frankly about his disappointing stats in his one year in Chapel Hill.
Former NC State standout Cody Martin, who transferred to Nevada to finish his college career, didn’t even start the week with an invitation to the combine. His performance at the two-day G League Combine earned him the chance to stay in Chicago when the NBA officials arrived. He made the most of his chance, scoring 21 points on 9-of-20 shooting in two scrimmages, adding 12 rebounds and 11 assists. He also ranked among the testing leaders for guards in wingspan (fourth at 6-foot-10¼), height without shoes (fourth at 6-foot-4¾) and shuttle run (fifth at 2.99 seconds).
A top-five finish in any testing is going to capture the attention of teams, and UNC’s Cameron Johnson turned one in, running the lane-agility test in 10.52 seconds (Martin was in third place at 10.44). Teams should also have taken notice of Johnson’s size. His standing reach (8-foot-7) was second best among guards, his wingspan (6-foot-10) was fifth, and his height without shoes (6-foot-7) was tops among guards.
Duke’s Cam Reddish was the only Blue Devil to participate in the measurements, although he sat out the drills and scrimmages. His 8-foot-9½ reach and 4.7 percent body fat were impressive. Reddish also appears to have helped himself with productive meetings with prospective teams. The Knicks, who pick third overall, are reportedly very intrigued by the one-and-done freshman, and he also met with the Lakers (fourth overall pick) while in Chicago. Reddish told the media he’d received feedback that he’d be taken between the third and 10th pick.
Zion Williamson and RJ Barrett, Reddish’s two Duke teammates, didn’t participate in any of the measurement or drill activities but were on hand to meet with teams. Williamson got a big clue to his likely home when New Orleans won the draft lottery, giving the Pelicans the chance to pick first overall, a spot Williamson is expected to fill.
UNC’s Coby White didn’t scrimmage or drill, focusing on meeting with teams after getting measured. He was the focus of plenty of rumors in Chicago, with the Bulls reportedly very interested in taking him at No. 7. Supposedly, however, another team that picks before Chicago has promised White they’ll take him if he’s available.
Wake Forest’s Jaylen Hoard didn’t wow with his drills. The one-and-done freshman was near the bottom in vertical leap (27½ standing, 35½ max) and lane agility (11.44) and shuttle run (3.32). He did a little better in the scrimmages, scoring 17 points on 6-of-16 shooting in the two games, with 11 rebounds and three assists.
Havelock’s Ky Bowman, who left the state to play at Boston College, was among the smaller prospects in the measurements and didn’t have eye-popping run times to counteract it. As was the case in college, however, he impressed once the games started. Bowman scored 20 points on 7-of-13 shooting in the two games with five boards and seven assists.
The other area prospects invited to the G League Combine didn’t receive an invitation to stay for the NBA version. That group included Duke’s Javin DeLaurier, UNC’s Luke Maye, Shaw’s Amir Hinton, former NC State player Caleb Martin and Campbell’s Chris Clemons.