Alexander-Walker, Herro Work Out for Magic

by Josh Cohen

ORLANDO - For the second time in the last week, Kentucky’s Tyler Herro and Virginia Tech’s Nickeil Alexander-Walker were part of the same NBA team workout.

Last Tuesday, they auditioned for the Boston Celtics, who will select 14th, 20th and 22nd in the first round of the draft.

On Monday, it was the Orlando Magic who got an up-close, simultaneous look at both of them. The Magic have the 16th pick.

Although their main strengths and weaknesses are somewhat different, Herro and Alexander-Walker do share some things in common.

For one, they are both 6 feet, 5 inches – a good height for combo guards, although Alexander-Walker has a much longer wingspan than his counterpart.

Another commonality is that their college statistics were very similar. In his two years with the Hokies, Alexander-Walker – who is the cousin of Clippers guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander – averaged 13.5 points, 4.0 rebounds and 2.7 assists while shooting 46.4 percent from the field. Herro, meanwhile, averaged 14.0 points, 4.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists while shooting 46.2 percent in his one year with the Wildcats.

Coincidentally, they produced identical numbers in their best college games. Alexander-Walker, a Toronto native, scored 29 points, grabbed four rebounds and dished out three assists against Citadel early in his freshman year, while Herro, who is from Milwaukee, recorded the same exact numbers against Arkansas this past season.

A particular skillset they both bring to the table is outside shooting. Alexander-Walker shot 38.3 percent from downtown in college, while Herro made 35.5 percent of his shots from beyond the arc.

“I’ve always been able to shoot,” Herro said. “I think throughout my career I’ve been able to open up a lot of other parts of my game but I think shooting has been something I’ve always been able to do.”

After their workout in Orlando, both said Devin Booker and C.J. McCollum are two current NBA players they try to emulate their games after.

The idea of playing for the Magic enthuses both of them. Not only do they each feel they fit in well with the coaches and players, both are impressed with the organization’s culture and positive energy.

“I think they are a great team,” Alexander-Walker said. “They were 20-31 and somehow find their way to the seven seed and into the playoffs, so I feel like they are a team that’s going to compete. Watching the Shaq, Penny documentary, Orlando is behind them so I think they have a good fan base but at the same time a great head office, great organization. Guys who come in and work every day and it’s going to show in their season.”

“They’re a great organization, great front office, great coach, from what I know great team,” Herro said. “Just come in here and be a rookie if I were to come here and just bring whatever I have, come in and stretch the flour and just continue to get better every day.”

The other draft prospects who worked out for the Magic on Monday were Florida guard KeVaughn Allen, Georgetown guard Greg Malinowski, Washington State forward Robert Franks and Florida State center Christ Koumadje.

Koumadje, who graduated from nearby Montverde Academy in 2015, is the third FSU player to work out in Orlando during this year’s pre-draft process so far, joining forward Mfiondu Kabengele and guard Terance Mann.

“It would definitely mean a lot (to play for the Magic),” said the 7-foot-4, 268-pounder, who is originally from N’Djamena, Chad. “I’m like 40 minutes away. Also for my people back at home. It’s going to be a dream.”

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