Hornets draft workout interviews: Day 2

Friday, June 18, 2010
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com

The following are interviews with each of Friday’s prospects:

Q: What do you feel is the biggest thing you need to improve upon to make an impact in the NBA?
A: One of the main things I continue to focus on is my offensive side. The defensive side is where I thrive on the court. I just love blocking shots and rebounding.

Q: A lot of the mock drafts have you coming here to New Orleans. What’s your reaction to that?
A: I think it would be a good fit for me. With Emeka down low, it would be a great guy to learn from. A guy that plays really hard and kind of a style I like to play. So learning from him, and the Hornets not having a true center on the roster, I think it would be really good for me. I’d come in and play hard, whatever my role is.

Q: Do you think your offensive game may be underrated?
A: Personally, I think so. I worked with Danny Manning at Kansas for three years. He has taught me so many different things, from offensive skills to the intangibles. Looking at a play before it develops.

Q: You’re known as a blue-collar, defensive-minded player, kind of what this team was missing last season. Does that factor into the whole draft process?
A: I think it would be a good fit for me here. With Emeka down low, he’s kind of a player like me, but obviously a lot more polished offensively. But he loves to work hard. Today with Coach Williams here, he’s only been here since the 7th they hired him, a little more than a week. You can really tell from these workouts that he’s going to get his guys prepared and working hard this year.

Q: Can you compare this workout to the other ones you’ve done?
A: The workouts are all roughly the same. A lot of skill work, and then you play. This was a really good one because it had a lot of big guys, with Damion, Love, Brackins and on and on. To go in and bang with those guys was really fun for me.

Q: What do you know about the Hornets?
A: From the games I’ve seen on TV, Chris Paul, David West, my boy Marcus Thornton, they have a great basketball team. Great players; Chris Paul is the best point guard in the league right now in my opinion. They have a good team, a great fan base, run a good offense, play hard defense. From what I’ve seen they have a great team and all play hard.

Q: If you had to compare your game to someone, who would it be?
A: I don’t compare personally to anybody, I try to take bits and pieces from different players. David West, in how he can put the ball down and take the ball to the rim. If he has a big person, take him off the dribble; with a little person, overpower him. Amar’e Stoudemire, with his toughness around the rim. Other bigs’ ability to step out and shoot the three; I’ll take bits and pieces from everybody’s game and try to critique them and make it my own.

Q: What did you try to showcase about your abilities for the Hornets?
A: I was trying to show my range and my ability to put the ball on the floor; shooting my jump shot and that my perimeter game is improved. I can knock down the mid-range jump shots and the three-pointers with confidence. And also I need to improve on defense and have better efficiency around the rim. I can score already around the rim, but I want to get better at it and my overall defense.

Q: Do you see a sleeper in this year’s draft?
A: Not just anybody in particular. A couple of guys that I see that aren’t on people’s radars on mock drafts that have them in the second round, I see Craig (Brackins) and I see Damion (James), even Gordon Hayward. Some have him in the lottery, some in the first round and others in the second round, so there are different guys that I run across – Ishmael Smith, who I’ve seen a lot. I truly believe those guys should be first-rounders. There’s a lot of talent out there, and guys who compete with their hearts out there, that can go first round and should go first round.

Q: What can you bring the Hornets?
A: I’m a high-energy guy, a guy that can play on the wing and be solid and just compete. The Hornets are a great organization. Any player would be happy to come play for this team.

Q: Not a lot of guys have four years of college, do you feel more prepared?
A: It’s great. A lot of players go one and done, two and done, three and done, not too often do players stay four years. It helped me mature and help me come in and contribute right away.

Q: What NBA player would you compare your game to?
A: Nobody really. I just compare myself to myself. I try to be me. I don’t try to pattern after anybody, a lot of players do their own thing and I want to do my own thing and compete.

Q: Do you know of a sleeper in this year’s draft?
A: I don’t really know, we’ll see. I think Cole (Aldrich) will be great as he continues to work on his offense, but he’s a great defensive player.

Q: How did it go today?
A: It went really well. I think this was one of my best ones by far. Probably because I felt like I was at home.

Q: How many workouts have you done?
A: This is my seventh or eighth workout.

Q: What are you being told?
A: You don’t know until that day (of the draft). I talked to my agent, and a lot of people are interested, but you don’t know. Hopefully I’ll get somewhere really good.

Q: Have you talked to Marcus Thornton about the Hornets?
A: Yeah, I always talk to him. We’re very good friends. I also talk to Tyrus (Thomas) and (Big) Baby (Glen Davis). I’d love to be a Hornet, but you know, however the cookie crumbles.

Q: How much does the success your former teammates at LSU are having in the NBA reflect well on you?
A: Well, I think I can do a lot in this league and be a long-term player, a consistent player, role player. But the guys who are in the NBA, they worked hard to get where they’re at. We are all a part of each other’s success. We all played together.

Q: The knock on Glen was that he couldn’t play above the rim, something similar to what people say about you. Is that myth overhyped?
A: Yes, it’s overhyped. Because if you’re a basketball player, anything is possible. I played with a whole bunch of guys today who can jump out of the gym. I didn’t get my shot blocked; I made shots. You can’t dunk the ball all the time, so I’d rather be a complete basketball player than a dunker.

Q: You almost entered the NBA draft last year. How much better of a player are you now with that extra year?
A: Well, with Trent Johnson, it was great for me. He prepared me mentally, physically and emotionally for the situation. He taught me a lot before games, after games, during practices. He put me in a lot of great situations. I think it really helped.

Q: What do you know about the Hornets and what would draw you to wanting to be drafted here?
A: The Hornets are obviously a great organization with tremendous fan support. They have a great point guard in Chris Paul with the way he is able to get his team involved. With Chris being their floor leader I think it could be a great opportunity to be able to play here.

Q: What NBA player would you compare your skills to?
A: Rasheed Wallace because of the way he’s able to shoot the three and get down in the post. That’s my type of game. I can get in the post or I can stretch out the defense and shoot the three ball.

Q: What areas of your game are you trying to improve on or prove to scouts that you have certain skills that they may not be aware of?
A: I’m really trying to get better on the defensive end both guarding wings and post players. I’m working on my offensive wing skills like dribbling the ball from the wing to the basket. Trying to stay focused on my athleticism and really running the court because a lot of teams have seen me do that because of the way we played at Iowa State.

Q: Who is your draft sleeper, a guy who is not getting much publicity right now but has the potential to be a very solid player in the NBA?
A: I would say Trevor Booker. We are very close and a lot or people think that he is undersized but the way he can jump, his athleticism, and his ability to just play like a mad dog; I think he’ll be a sleeper in this draft.

Q: What do you know about the Hornets and what would draw you to wanting to be drafted here?
A: Obviously they have one of the premier point guards in the league with Chris Paul. They have a great player in David West, who like me is a graduate of Xavier. I’ve watched them compete a couple years ago in the playoffs and that kind of success draws you here. James Posey actually came by Xavier after the championship with Boston and Miami and played with us. Chris Paul actually came to our game versus LSU last year. Those guys are around and know the rivalry between Wake Forest and Xavier.

Q: What NBA player would you compare your skills to?
A: Paul Millsap or Carl Landry because they are kind of dirty work guys. They weren’t high leapers but they were relentless rebounders and they played tough and physical and I can see myself in those types of players.

Q: What areas of your game are you trying to improve on or prove to scouts that you have certain skills that they may not be aware of?
A: I have more post moves to offer and I can shoot a little bit better than I showed at Xavier. I can play at the NBA level even though I don’t have big numbers like some of these other guys. I don’t think numbers is the only thing that matters in basketball and I think I showed that today.

Q: Who is your draft sleeper, a guy who is not getting much publicity right now but has the potential to be a very solid player in the NBA?
A: My teammate, Jordan Crawford. A lot of people are saying that he’s a second-rounder but I’ve been around him all year and he’s on of the most talented players I’ve ever played with. I think he should be a first-rounder and he'll definitely be a premier player in the NBA.

Frontcourt players highlight Day 2 of workouts

All six draft prospects invited to Friday’s draft workouts at the Alario Center were frontcourt players during their college careers, including projected 2010 first-round picks Patrick Patterson, Craig Brackins, Cole Aldrich and Damion James. NBAdraft.net’s current mock draft lists Aldrich as the No. 9 pick to Utah; Patterson as the No. 12 pick overall to Memphis; Brackins as No. 22 to Portland; and James as No. 27 to New Jersey.
Also on hand this morning in Westwego: Xavier (Ohio) University’s Jason Love and Tasmin Mitchell, the latter a LSU product who’s also a native Louisianan. Mitchell hails from Denham Springs, roughly 90 miles west of New Orleans.

Cole Aldrich • Kansas • Center • 6-11, 245 • Bloomington, Minn.
Long arms; has true center size and fundamentally sound; excellent shot-blocker and a productive rebounder…an early entry candidate for the 2010 Draft…averaged 11.3 points and 9.8 rebounds as a junior, registering 15 double-doubles…owns the Kansas school record for blocks in a season (125) and second on the career blocked shots list….never lost in Allen Fieldhouse, posting a three-year record of 55-0. An AP Third Team All-American as a junior…the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year and All-Big 12 First Team for the second straight season…named Honorable Mention AP All-American as a sophomore…a member of Kansas’ national title team as a freshman in 2007-08…ranked 25th nationally and second in the Big 12 in rebounds per game…ranked fifth in the nation and second in the conference in total swats…named All-Big 12 First Team and Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year…honored as Third Team All-America by the Associated Press…helped lead Kansas to a 33-3 season in which it won the Big 12 regular-season, Big 12 postseason championships and was ranked No. 1 for 15 weeks.

Damion James • Texas • Guard/Forward • 6-7, 225 • Nacogdoches, Texas
Athletic forward with a blue-collar approach; aggressive rebounder on both ends; can hit the three, excellent leaper…holds Big 12 conference records for rebounds and double-doubles and school career records for games started and rebounds…earned Third Team AP All-American accolades as a senior in 2009-10…a Lowe's Senior CLASS Award and Oscar Robertson Trophy finalist…selected All-Big 12 First Team…named All-Big 12 Second Team as a junior and sophomore…led Texas in scoring (18.0 ppg), rebounding (10.3 rpg), double-doubles (17), steals (57) and minutes played (30.3 mpg), and ranked second on the squad in blocked shots (40)…a Third Team AP All-American and finalist for the Senior Class Award and Oscar Robertson Trophy…all-Big 12 First Team and NABC All-District 8 First Team…posted a season-high 28 points and 13 rebounds vs. Texas Tech…matched that mark with 28 points, 16 rebounds and three steals vs. Iowa State in the first round of the Big 12 tournament.

Patrick Patterson • Kentucky • Forward • 6-9, 235 • Huntington, W.Va.
Active forward with a lot of intangibles; possesses solid athleticism and strength; long wingspan; can score with his back to the basket or hit 15-to-20 foot jump shot…an early entry candidate for the 2010 NBA Draft…associated Press Honorable Mention All-America as a junior…two-time First Team All-SEC as a junior and sophomore, named Second Team as a freshman…the 10th fastest player to reach UK's 1,000-point club, in 58 games…a 2007 McDonald’s All-American as a high school senior…selected for the 2007 USA Basketball Junior National Select Team…MVP of the 2006 National Basketball Players Association Top 100 Camp…averaged 14.3 points, 7.4 rebounds and 1.3 blocks…shot .575 from the field and .348 from three…named First Team All-SEC, AP Honorable Mention All-American, USBWA All-District IV Team and NABC All-District 21 Second Team…scored 22 points on 9-of-10 shooting in the first round of the NCAA Tournament vs. East Tennessee State…played high school basketball with Grizzlies guard O.J. Mayo

Tasmin Mitchell • LSU • Forward • 6-7, 240 • Denham Springs, La.
Strong and aggressive forward with a chiseled physique; overpowers smaller forwards; likes to bang in the paint, and will score and rebound…originally an early entry candidate for the 2009 NBA Draft…set LSU career records for minutes played (4,692), games started (136) and games played (137)…only game he didn’t start was senior night 2009…finished his career third in scoring (1,989), sixth in rebounds (950), fifth in field goals made (762), eighth in steals (190) and 10th in assist (291)…had 28 career double doubles…as a senior, led SEC in minutes per game (37.3), and finished fourth in scoring (16.8 ppg) and third in rebounding (9.4 rpg)…poured in 38 points vs. Auburn, hitting a career-high 15 field goals to go with four three-pointers. Grabbed a career-high 18 rebounds against Southeastern Louisiana…as a junior was named All-SEC First Team…played at LSU with Hornets guard Marcus Thornton…was Louisiana’s Mr. Basketball in high school.

Craig Brackins • Iowa State • Forward • 6-10, 230 • Wolfeboro, N.H.
Highly skilled scorer with good size for a combo forward; has NBA three-point range; has a good work ethic and is a smart player…an early entry candidate for the 2010 NBA Draft…originally an early entry candidate for the 2009 NBA Draft before withdrawing his name from consideration…named to the All-Big 12 First Team as a sophomore and the All-Big 12 Second Team as a junior…named Iowa State’s Most Valuable Player as a sophomore…named Big 12 Player of the Week four times in his sophomore and junior seasons…as a junior, led the team in scoring (16.5 ppg), while ranking second in rebounds (8.5 rpg) and assists (2.2 apg)…played and started in all 32 of the team’s games, scoring in double figures 30 times including seven games of 20 or more points and 13 double-doubles…scored a season-high 29 points to go along with 12 rebounds against Kansas State…grabbed a season-high 14 rebounds against Missouri.

Jason Love • Xavier (Ohio) • Forward/Center • 6-9, 265 • Philadelphia, Pa.
Second Team All-Atlantic 10 selection by Sporting News and Third Team All-Atlantic 10 selection by the A-10 coaches...had nine double-doubles as a senior, including 11 points and 15 rebounds against Kansas State in the NCAA Tournament Regional Semifinal…earned Atlantic 10 Co-Player of the Week honors…Xavier recorded a 108-33 (.766) record during his career...the 108 wins broke the school record of 103, which was set by 2009 XU graduate B.J. Raymond...Xavier teams during his career won eight NCAA Tournament games, which is the XU school record for a player…led the team in rebounding at 8.7 rpg. (fourth in the Atlantic 10), including his career-high 19-rebound games against Cincinnati and Marquette and 15 against Kansas State in the NCAA Tournament...also led the team in blocks at 1.4 bpg. (tied for ninth in the A-10), including a career-high six in the win over Dayton on Jan. 16...third on the team in scoring at 11.8 ppg... started for XU 91 times in his last three seasons, including the last 70 games…had 734 career rebounds, which ranks 12th in Xavier history...also is high on the all-time career blocks list with 127 career blocks, which ranks tied for fourth in Xavier history with long-time NBA standout Brian Grant (127 from 1990-94)...his 126 career games played put him in a tie for eighth place all-time.