Seltzer's Quotebook | Combine Media Availabilities: Day #2
CHICAGO, IL - Between the on-court activities and mingling of NBA influencers, there was plenty going on during the two days that the league’s annual draft combine shifted to the Quest MultiSport facility on Chicago’s west side.
Below, find a running tab of noteworthy quotes that emerge from the multiple rounds of media availabilities that were held Thursday and Friday.
Friday, May 12th: Day 2
• Kentucky guard De'Aaron Fox, on his reasons for attending the NBA Draft Combine:
"I just wanted to be here. I watched the combine so many years growing up, and not necessarily playing or doing drills, but I knew I wouldn't have to. It kind of wouldn't help me, but just being here, getting to know the teams instead of just working out for them in that short period of time. Getting this 30 minutes with teams I feel could change some minds."
Fox, who will attend Tuesday's draft lottery in New York, said he knows been Simmons, and that the two talk on a regular basis. They played on the same high school circuit a few years ago.
• Gonzaga forward Zach Collins, on whether he had a sense he would be a one-and-done player prior to his freshman season, and the influence of the Bulldogs' post-season run on his draft status:
"I didn't expect to be one-and-done, but at the same time, I never really had a plan, like I'm going to be two years and I'm leaving. Definitely, it's kind of something that came up mid-season. [The NCAA Tournament] was huge. If you win and you go deep in the tournament and you do well against good teams, it's going to boost your stock."
• Texas forward Jarrett Allen, on the areas of his game he’s working on, and his takeaways from his lone season with the Longhorns:
"On the court, I’m trying to be more consistent shooting the three. I feel I’m way tougher than people think. The year at Texas, we didn’t really have the best season. It showed me there’s adversity that you have to play through."
• Indiana forward OG Anunoby, on the status of his recovery from an ACL tear, and the momentum he was playing with prior to the injury:
"I'm ahead of schedule right now. I was playing more this year, just playing harder for longer. Just keep up the defensive intensity, and consistency on offense."
• Kansas point guard Frank Mason III, on his performance at the draft combine, and his relationship with Joel Embiid:
"I think I showed how aggressive I am on the defensive and offensive end, and how good of a player-maker I am. I showed my athletic ability a little bit, and how good of a leader I'm starting to become."
"[Embiid's] a cool guy. He's probably one of the funniest guys I've ever met. He's got a great personality."
• UCLA forward Ike Anigbogu, on how playing on a talented team featuring multiple projected first-round draft picks affected his development:
"I think it really just helped me, and everyone around me. I feel practicing against those type of guys and that type of talent benefited our game, and we really put together a successful season. [Lonzo] made my job easy. He’s just an incredibly unselfish player, and I feel like he can dominate any game, just really lead a team without saying many words. When it’s time to say some words, he really steps up, too. He’s just a floor general. The best vision I’ve probably seen in a basketball player."
• Duke guard Frank Jackson, on announcing his intention Friday to hire an agent, and keep his name in the 2017 draft pool:
"After I played and sat down and thought about it with my family, I just feel like I have all the confidence in the world in my talents and abilities. I wanted to showcase that yesterday, and it was a goal and dream of mine, and it’s right here, so I’m going to do everything I can to attack it."
• UNC forward Kennedy Meeks, the NCAA’s second-leading offensive rebounder last season, on his approach to the combine, and his relationship with former Tar Heel Jerry Stackhouse, who served as a coach at the combine:
"It’s an even playing ground. No one’s entitled to anything, in my opinion. I feel like everybody has to go out there and prove themselves. My job is to go out there and rebound, first, and the points will come later. [Stackhouse] is a cool guy, he’s a great coach. Today, he said just be aggressive. Rebound first is the main thing."
• South Carolina guard Sindarius Thornwell, the SEC Player of the Year, on the importance of attending and taking part in the combine:
"When you’re coming through the process, you want to enjoy everything about it. Passing this up is just one thing you’re missing out on. It’s just one thing that is all about the process, and in the draft, I think you should enjoy everything, not just certain parts. Just being here, I’m just enjoying it and having fun with this."
• Michigan forward DJ Wilson, who grew into the ‘four’ position this season, on being one of three Wolverines to attend the combine:
"It’s definitely helped. Me and Derrick [Walton Jr.] and Mo [Moritz Wagner], we always hang out with each other, especially here. We talk amongst ourselves about the things we’re going through, so it definitely helps."
• Iowa State guard Monte Morris, on his relationship with Fred Hoiberg, the Chicago Bulls head coach who recruited to him to the Shockers:
"Fred's my guy. He texted me after yesterday. We talked back and forth for a little bit. [The Bulls] play uptempo, similar style to Iowa State. When they get stops, they can run out. The stuff he ran with the Bulls, I could be at home on my TV and say he ran this play that we used to run."
Thursday, May 11th: Day 1
• Villanova guard Josh Hart, on the stigma associated with being a four-year collegian:
"I think saying a four-year guy is old is foolish, to be honest. That's the first time someone at 21, 22 years old is old. I don't think that's smart. When it comes to playing this game, and knowing how to impact a team offensively and defensively, that's what four-year guys are. That's why you see Malcolm Brogdon, Jimmy Butler. So many four-year guys they go in and make an impact right away. It's not, 'We'll groom them.'"
Hart also spoke fondly about having the chance to spend his college career in the Delaware Valley, and gave a wealth of credit to Sixers assistant coach Billy Lange, who recruited Hart to Villanova while a member of Jay Wright's staff.
• UNC swing man Justin Jackson, on improving his perimeter game during a junior campaign that saw him hit 105 3-pointers:
"I think it was really important. That's the feedback I got last year, you've got to shoot more consistently to be able to play at this level. I took that extremely serious. Last year was a translation of all the work I put in in the off-season."
• UCLA forward T.J. Leaf, on spending his freshman season with classmate Lonzo Ball:
"Me and Lonzo are really close off the court, and on the court. It was a blast with him this year. We're still very close, we talk all the time. I'm close with him and his family."
• Cal forward Ivan Rabb, who averaged a double-double last season, on the elements of his meeting with the Sixers that stood out:
"They had a lot of good things to say about me. They asked questions, I just answered to the best of my abilities. I love what they're doing. They're playing a lot of young, talented guys. As a young guy coming in, you want a shot to play. They showed some film of stuff I did positive and negative, and asked me about plays, what was I thinking, so that was different."
• Wake Forest forward John Collins, a projected mid first-round selection, on the start of the pre-draft audition process:
"It's been fun so far, trying to make the best out of it. It's been a lot, it's new for me, so I was just trying to get used to it, feel it out, do my thing."
• Kentucky guard Hamidou Diallo, on how he managed to stay fresh this season, despite not appearing in a single game for the Wildcats:
"I just worked hard every day, and go into a gym and give it 100 percent. I'm not in a gym just going through the motions, and definitely pick up with [teammates] in practice, and doing live things."
• Michigan guard Derrick Walton, on remaining close with Nik Stauskas, who was a sophomore for the Wolverines during Walton's freshman season:
"I talk to him a lot. We get a chance to talk, and just talk about what he's going through, and this process. Having him as a former teammate and good friend is a great asset. We just talk and kick it like we used to, and not put too much pressure on everything."
• South Carolina guard P.J. Dozier, who started all 36 games en route to leading the Gamecocks to the Final Four, on the impact that a deep post-season run has had on his draft stock:
"Being on that stage helped us a lot, not just as a team, but individually. No one knew we were that [good]. From the time we got together, we knew we had the capability to go as far as we did. We knew we had the talent, but we had the drive. We came out this season with a chip on our shoulder."
• North Carolina State center Omer Yurtseven on teammate Dennis Smith Jr., regarded as one of the top point guards available in this year's draft class:
"Energy. He competed like crazy, to be honest, and he's physically, mentally gifted. He knows how to read the game. As a point guard, he brought a lot."
• Florida forward Devin Robinson, on the advice he's received from former teammate and current Dallas Mavericks forward Dorian Finney-Smith on preparing for the pros:
"He went through this last year. He just told me it's a grind. The main thing to do is stay in shape, stay hydrated, and just take care of your body. The rest will settle itself. He was saying these workouts are tough, they're going to try to get to you. Don't let them break you. Just keep grinding. It's a long five, six weeks."
• SMU forward Semi Ojeleye, on experiencing a breakout AAC Player of the Year season after transferring from Duke, where he appeared in just 23 total games as a freshman and sophomore:
"Mentally, my faith allows me to keep working hard, do the right thing every day, no matter what the outcome is. I know if I keep doing the right thing, it'll work out, and I'll get what I deserve at the end. I felt like I needed a fresh start. I got into a bit of a rut of poor play on my part. I think I couldn't shake a lack of confidence I kind of developed. I needed a fresh start, some time to really pull myself together and get right."
• Oregon forward Dillon Brooks on the success he experienced with the Ducks, and the type of NBA player he hopes to become:
"Going to the Final Four, two Elite Eights in my time, we were in the Pac-12 Tournament and all those things. When I got in those games, I performed pretty well. I like Jimmy Butler and Draymond Green. Those guys, they play hard, very versatile two-way guys that I want to be like."
• Gonzaga guard Nigel Williams-Goss on the aspects of his game that he considers to be NBA-ready:
"I think my maturity. Coming into this league probably as a back-up, you have to be solid. I said during all my interviews, you can't be a high-risk, high-reward back-up guard. I think all the coaches and GMs have kind of seen that I'm able to take the reigns of things, and be in control of the situation."