Demetris Nichols of Syracuse and Curtis Sumpter of Villanova were two of the four particpants at the Nets' first day of individual pre-draft workouts.
Day 1 Draft Workouts: Nichols, Sumpter, Mejia, and Byars
by Matt McQueeny, NJNets.com
The Nets kicked off their pre-draft individual player workouts today. Because of new rules instituted by the NBA – effectively not allowing teams to work out potential draftees until after the Orlando pre-draft camp, shortening the window of time for workouts – New Jersey and the Knicks are teaming up in order to consolidate the process. The close proximity (roughly 30 miles between facilities) in location and draft number (Nets 17th pick, Knicks 23rd pick) made the partnership a practical one.
The first of 12 workout days began this morning at the Knicks practice facility in Tarrytown, New York. The participants were Demetris Nichols of Syracuse, Curtis Sumpter of Villanova, Derrick Byars of Vanderbilt, and Sammy Mejia of Depaul.
Nets General Manager Ed Stefanski was the first person to emerge from the workouts to talk to the assembled media. Stefanski was asked a lot about the Knicks-Nets workout arrangements. Is it strange? Do you need to keep a poker face in front of the Knicks? Are the Nets execs and coaches on one side of the gym, the Knicks on the other? Everything you could think of around this angle was asked. The GM downplayed it each time, and actually mostly joked (saying he had obstructed vision, at one point) about it. He said that workouts are good, but are just a piece of the puzzle.
“All year long you have been out there with scouts looking at players and I think that’s the body of the work. Now, you will interview these kids and see how they’re made up. But I think a lot of the work is already done.”
Breaking down the workout participants, Stefanski started with Nichols.
“Nichols is an NBA shooter, there is no doubt he can knock down shots,” said the GM.
Nichols definitely believes in his shooting ability. Asked about how his shooting went today, he said “mostly all of my shots were going in…as usual.” He’s coming into individual workouts after a very strong offensive showing at the Orlando pre-draft camp, where he converted on 9-of-13 three-pointers. While instant offense and the ability to hit deep shots is something he is especially good at, some knock his defense and his ability to fill out the other columns in the stat sheet. He said that his past season, where he led the big east in scoring, and his performance in Orlando showed what he can do and that he can play defense and put the ball on the floor.
“I think I displayed that in Orlando, I think I showed that out here. I know what I can do.”
Curtis Sumpter was another of the notable names at the workout. Growing up in Brooklyn, the 6’7” forward looked to mimic the game of Grant Hill. That is, a player who can do a little bit of everything in the stat sheet, but more from a point forward position. As he grew older, he did not have the Hill-like point guard qualities to his game. So, the current player he looks to mimic is a Josh Howard type.
“Someone who can rebound, shoot, play defense, and do everything to try to win.”
Sumpter has had to come back from a lot. He had two ACL surgeries on his left knee, seven months apart, in 2005. First, doctors tried to repair his ACL with a donor ligament, taken from a cadaver. However, his body just did not accept it. So the second time, his ACL was repaired with the patella tendon from the same knee.
“It’s a longer rehab process by maybe three months, but it’s stronger. I played on it since last July. This July will be a year since I have been playing. It’s held off no problem.”
Said Stefanski, “Curtis Sumpter from Villanova had the knee injury. So I think a lot of people were curious how he came back. Terrific effort to go through these knee surgeries so you know the kid has a lot of character and he acquitted himself well.”
Sumpter said the knee gets stronger every month.
On what he would bring to the team who drafts him, he said, “I think I will just bring a winner, and a hard worker, and a leader. Someone who won’t cause any problems, someone who just wants to win and do everything necessary to win.”
He jokingly said that he worked a little harder in the workouts knowing that the Nets are eventually headed for Brooklyn, his home borough.
Sammy Mejia, 6’6”/ 195 lbs, from Depaul and Derrick Byars, 6’7”/ 225 lbs, from Vanderbilt were the two other workout participants.
Stefanski said that Mejia “is a good shooter mid-range. One thing about Mejia that hurts him in a workout is that you are doing 2-on-2. Mejia is a very good player in making other people around him better. This workout situation doesn’t help him as much but people know Mejia on a 5-on-5 situation.”
On Byars, the GM said he “had a terrific year at Vanderbilt, is a very strong kid and athletic.”
All in all it was a great first day.
“All four of those kids, it was a spirited workout, these kids are high level players,” said Stefanski.
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