The Lakers hosted their first prospect for the NBA Draft’s No. 4 pick, as Texas Tech shooting guard Jarrett Culver put his skills on display at UCLA Health Training Center on Saturday.
Selected Big 12 Player of the Year and Second Team All-American, Culver made his name with an all-around game that saw him finish the season as Tech’s team leader in scoring (18.5), rebounds (6.4) and assists (3.7). He also finished among the conference’s top five in each category.
“I’m a two-way player, an elite two-way player,” Culver said. “I can score and I can play defense. I feel like people see that a lot in me.”
The 20-year-old worked out in an individual setting for the Lakers’ brass, including general manager Rob Pelinka and head coach Frank Vogel. Also present in the gym: superstar LeBron James.
“I know LeBron plays here, but I didn’t expect him to be here,” Culver said. “You’re kinda shocked at first, like that’s LeBron James.”
But Culver seems hardly the type to be starstruck, especially after leading Texas Tech to the school’s first NCAA title game appearance this season.
Now he’ll look to take lessons learned from that run into his NBA career.
“Every game is important, and then once you get to that stage every possession is important,” Culver said. “Just taking that to the league, and playing like every possession is your last, is big.”
Culver repeatedly touted his skills as a two-way defender, and one look is enough to see why. At 6-foot-6 and 195 pounds (with a 6-foot-9.5 wingspan), Culver boasts great size and length.
He is capable of defending players across the guard and wing positions, while also providing scoring and playmaking on the other end.
Culver is a fearless slasher and athletic leaper, who deals physicality at the rim rather than taking it. And he has plenty of experience leading Texas Tech’s offense as a canny passer.
His biggest question mark is his 3-point shooting, which slipped from a 38.2 percent clip as a freshman to 30.4 as a sophomore.
He did revamp his shot between those seasons — aiming to make it straighter, smoother and in one motion — but he is confident that his form has improved.
“It got better,” he said, “but I was taking tougher shots from my freshman to sophomore year.”
Culver is especially deadly from mid-range, where he has an arsenal of pull-up and post moves. And while many have labeled mid-range shots as inefficient (though the playoffs tell a different story), Culver explained that his mid game is about more than just shooting.
“Not only just the shot — when a player has the ball in the mid-range area, they can operate,” Culver said. “People can cut off them, they can kick out and they can also get to the rim. There are a lot of things you can do from that area.”