2018 Draft Workouts: Donte DiVincenzo

June 8, 2018 - Villanova guard Donte DiVincenzo talks with Pacers.com's Wheat Hotchkiss about his workout with the Pacers and his whirlwind last few months since winning a national title.

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2018 Draft Workouts: Donte DiVincenzo

June 8, 2018 - Villanova guard Donte DiVincenzo talks with Pacers.com's Wheat Hotchkiss about his workout with the Pacers and his whirlwind last few months since winning a national title.
Jun 8, 2018  |  02:07

2018 Draft Workouts: Keita Bates-Diop

June 8, 2018 - Ohio State's Keita Bates-Diop discussed how his pre-draft workout went with Pacers.com's Wheat Hotchkiss.
Jun 8, 2018  |  01:18

2018 Draft Workouts: Shake Milton

June 8, 2018 - Shake Milton from SMU worked out for the Pacers today, and after, he met with Pacers.com to discuss his length and how his game will translate to the NBA.
Jun 8, 2018  |  01:24

2018 Draft Workouts: A.J. Davis

June 8, 2018 - A.J. Davis, the son of Pacers star Antonio Davis, worked out for the Pacers today. After, he spoke about his experience with Pacers.com's Wheat Hotchkiss.
Jun 8, 2018  |  02:35

2018 Draft Workouts: Gary Clark

June 8, 2018 - After his pre-draft workout with the Pacers, Cincinnati's Gary Clark spoke with Pacers.com's Wheat Hotchkiss.
Jun 8, 2018  |  02:58

2018 Draft Workouts: Alize Johnson

June 8, 2018 - After his pre-draft workout, Missouri State's Alize Johnson shared that though he may come from a mid-major, he belongs in the NBA.
Jun 8, 2018  |  01:38

Breakout Seasons Propel DiVincenzo, Bates-Diop Up Draft Boards

Final Four Hero and Big Ten Player of the Year Headline Second Pacers Pre-Draft Workout
by Wheat Hotchkiss
Pacers.com Writer/Editor

In many ways, it's relatively easy to forecast which players will be first-round draft picks. Scan the top of any mock draft and you'll find a host of players that fit a certain mold.

Many are one-and-done freshman phenoms, the who's who of their high school recruiting class. Others are international stars who have already made a name for themselves playing professionally overseas. Others could have maybe been a first-round pick a year earlier, but elected to return to school and improve their draft stock.

But Keita Bates-Diop and Donte DiVincenzo, two likely first-round picks who took part in Friday's pre-draft workout at the St. Vincent Center, are an exception to the rule.

This time a year ago, neither was on anyone's draft radar. Bates-Diop was forced to redshirt in his third season at Ohio State after sustaining a leg injury. DiVincenzo was a role player as a redshirt freshman at Villanova, an afterthought on a loaded Wildcats roster that featured the likes of Josh Hart, Kris Jenkins, Jalen Brunson, and Mikal Bridges.

But both took quantum leaps over the past 365 days. Bates-Diop was the Big Ten Player of the Year. DiVincenzo was the Most Outstanding Player at the 2018 Final Four. And after testing well at the combine, both players appear to be locks to hear their name called by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver in the first round of the draft on June 21 at Barclays Center.

"Honestly, I don't think I could have told you I was going to be in this position last summer," DiVincenzo said on Friday. "If you told me I was going to be in this position, I'd tell you you're crazy. It's been a blessing."

The 6-5 shooting guard had a solid season for Villanova, averaging 13.4 points and 3.5 assists per game while knocking down 40 percent of his 3-point attempts and was named Sixth Man of the Year in the Big East. But it was his performance in the national championship game that really put him on people's radar.

Against Michigan, DiVincenzo exploded for 31 points, five rebounds, and three assists, going 10-for-15 from the field and 5-for-7 from the 3-point line. Suddenly, he went from an NBA afterthought to a hot commodity.

But he's proven that performance wasn't a fluke in the pre-draft process. His athleticism was on full display at the NBA Draft Combine last month in Chicago, where he tied for the highest vertical leap at 42 inches and was one of the best players in 5-on-5 scrimmages, flying all around the court while amassing 17 points, 13 rebounds, five assists, and six steals in a pair of games.

In the past few weeks, DiVincenzo's stock has continued to rise in most mock drafts. Some mocks, like a recent one from Basketball Insiders' Steve Kyler, have him going to the Pacers with the 23rd overall pick, but many others have him going off the board before Indiana's selection.

Though he mainly projects as a shooting guard, DiVincenzo has the playmaking ability to potentially slide over to point guard on occasion and the athleticism to guard multiple positions on the perimeter.

"I really pride myself on trying to be versatile," he said. "I try to use my athleticism and my strength to be able to guard bigger guys, and being able to guard bigger guys is going to get me more minutes on the floor."

Because of the talent around him at Villanova, DiVincenzo played a very specific "3-and-D" role similar to what he will likely be asked to play in the NBA, so that should help him as he makes his transition to the pro game. As he continues to work out for teams in the days leading up to the draft, DiVincenzo has a focused mindset.

"Just going in there not trying to do anything outside myself, going in knowing what I'm capable of and getting after it," he said. "A lot of guys kind of get complacent with how they do in one game, but I just want to compete. So every game I play in, it's a brand new beginning for me."

Bates-Diop's rise up draft boards hasn't been quite as dramatic, but he had a similar breakthrough over the past year.

Bates-Diop was a solid player as a sophomore in 2015-16, averaging 11.8 points and 6.4 rebounds per game for the Buckeyes, but saw action in just nine contests the next year before a stress fracture in his left leg forced him to redshirt.

He broke out in a big way as a redshirt junior, averaging 19.8 points, 8.7 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks per game to help Ohio State emerge as one of the surprise teams in all of college basketball. In what was expected to be a down year, the Buckeyes went 15-3 in conference play and were a top-25 team for most of the year.

The biggest reason was the play of Bates-Diop, who demonstrated an ability to score the ball at all three levels and a knack for rising to the occasion in big moments. Look no further than his performance in a stunning Jan. 7 win over Michigan State — then the number one team in the country — when he amassed 32 points, seven rebounds, and three steals.

Bates-Diop credits a lot of his success to Chris Holtmann, who took over the reins in Columbus last spring after four years at Butler.

"We just kind of created a bond," Bates-Diop said. "We played off each other, bounced ideas off each other, and it worked really well."

The Big Ten Player of the Year also has drawn scouts' attention in the pre-draft process. His wingspan was measured at over 7-3 at the combine, meaning he's an ideal fit as a wing defender who can guard multiple positions.

There are questions about his shooting, as he was up-and-down in college, converting 35.9 percent of his 3-point attempts. But physically, Bates-Diop has most of the tools teams are looking for in a wing.

Bates-Diop also could fit a position of need for the Pacers. While Indiana is expected to return most of its core from the team that won 48 games a year ago, there are question marks at the small forward position. Starter Bojan Bogdanovic's contract is only partially guaranteed for next season and even if Indiana elects to bring him back, he'll be 30 years old and a free agent next summer. The only other true small forward with NBA experience on the roster is Glenn Robinson III, who enters free agency this summer.

Indiana could also be an attractive fit for Bates-Diop. He went to high school in Normal, Ill., just a few hours' drive from Indianapolis, and he believes the Pacers' style of play matches his strengths.

"I think I would fit really well on this team just because they're an unselfish team," Bates-Diop said. "Obviously they play through Victor (Oladipo) a lot — he's their best player — but there's a lot of ball movement, a lot of player movement, and that's what I'm good at."


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