2021 Draft Workouts: Tre Mann

June 21, 2021 - Florida guard Tre Mann speaks with Pacers.com's Wheat Hotchkiss following his pre-draft workout with the Pacers at the Ascension St. Vincent Center.

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2021 Draft Workouts: Tre Mann

June 21, 2021 - Florida guard Tre Mann speaks with Pacers.com's Wheat Hotchkiss following his pre-draft workout with the Pacers at the Ascension St. Vincent Center.
Jun 30, 2021  |  02:10

2021 Draft Workouts: Joshua Primo

June 30, 2021 - Alabama guard Joshua Primo speaks with Pacers.com’s Wheat Hotchkiss following his pre-draft workout with the Pacers at the Ascension St. Vincent Center.
Jul 1, 2021  |  02:07

2021 Draft Workouts: Marcus Zegarowski

June 30, 2021 - Creighton guard Marcus Zegarowski speaks with Pacers.com's Wheat Hotchkiss following his pre-draft workout with the Pacers at the Ascension St. Vincent Center.
Jul 1, 2021  |  02:35

2021 Draft Workouts: J.T. Thor

June 30, 2021 - Auburn forward J.T. Thor speaks with Pacers.com's Wheat Hotchkiss following his pre-draft workout with the Pacers at the Ascension St. Vincent Center.
Jul 1, 2021  |  01:58

2021 Draft Workouts: Eugene Omoruyi

June 30, 2021 - Oregon forward Eugene Omoruyi speaks with Pacers.com's Wheat Hotchkiss following his pre-draft workout with the Pacers at the Ascension St. Vincent Center.
Jul 1, 2021  |  02:35

2021 Draft Workouts: D.J. Steward

June 30, 2021 - Duke guard D.J. Steward speaks with Pacers.com's Wheat Hotchkiss following his pre-draft workout with the Pacers at the Ascension St. Vincent Center.
Jul 1, 2021  |  01:35

Florida's Mann Headlines Trio of Intriguing SEC Prospects at First Workout

by Wheat Hotchkiss
Pacers.com Writer/Editor
@Wheat_Hotchkiss

Just under a month ahead of the 2021 NBA Draft, the Pacers held their first pre-draft workout at the Ascension St. Vincent Center on Wednesday. Six prospects visited the Pacers' practice facility for a day of testing, interviews, and on-court drills.

Wednesday's workout participants included Florida guard Tre Mann, Oregon forward Eugene Omoruyi, Alabama guard Joshua Primo, Duke guard D.J. Steward, Auburn forward J.T. Thor, and Creighton guard Marcus Zegarowski.

Mann is the highest-rated prospect of the group, a consensus first-round selection in most mock drafts. The 20-year-old's stock rose significantly after a standout sophomore season at Florida.

As a freshman, Mann came off the bench for the Gators, averaging 5.3 points in 17.8 minutes per game. He blossomed last season after moving into a starting role, increasing his scoring average by 10.7 points to 16 points per game, the largest year-over-year increase by a Florida player in the past 25 years.

Mann quickly became Florida's go-to scoring option, but despite a heavy workload, he also significantly improved his efficiency. Mann shot a pedestrian 35.6 percent from the field and 27.5 percent from 3-point range in limited attempts as a freshman. But as a sophomore, he posted a .459 field goal percentage on over 12 attempts per game and a .402 3-point percentage on nearly five shots a night from beyond the arc.

Mann got better as the season progressed, with four of his five 20-point games coming over Florida's final six contests, including a 30-point performance in the SEC Tournament against a Tennessee team that featured two potential lottery picks in its backcourt in Keon Johnson and Jaden Springer. He was voted to the All-SEC first team.

Not only did Mann grow figuratively during his sophomore season, he also grew literally. According to his Florida bio, he grew an inch between his freshman and sophomore seasons.

Mann's biggest strength — and the reason he has the potential to work his way into the lottery — is his ability to create his own shot off the bounce. With deep range and a deadly step-back move, Mann fits the mold of players like Trae Young and Darius Garland, recent scoring guards that have found success at the next level.

"That's the modern-day guard in the NBA right now, guys that can create for themselves, shoot off the dribble with range," Mann said. "I feel like I do that the best in this draft class right now. I think that's going to separate me a lot."

Mann said he has studied a number of players while preparing to transition to the pros, including Young, Damian Lillard, Stephen Curry, Bradley Beal, Devin Booker, and CJ McCollum.

"Guys like that where I feel like they're crafty, they create their own shots, and (they have) the same type of game that I have," Mann said. "I feel like I'm a wiggle player, get to my spots and can beat a guy off the dribble whether I'm shooting for deep or getting to the rim."

While Mann is known for his offensive abilities, he also hopes to use the pre-draft process to highlight his strengths as a defender. He said he spoke with Pacers general manager Chad Buchanan following Wednesday's workout and Buchanan complimented his performance on that end of the ball in workout drills, saying the team wanted to see guards that can defend multiple positions.

While Mann is a near-consensus first-round pick, two fellow SEC players at Wednesday's workout have a chance to hear their name called in the first round as well. Both Primo and Thor's draft stock is seemingly on the rise after strong performances at the Combine.

The youngest player in this year's draft class, Primo won't turn 19 until Christmas Eve. The Toronto native reclassified to suit up at Alabama last season, where he played a supporting role in helping lead the Crimson Tide to an SEC title.

Primo averaged 8.1 points and 3.4 rebounds in 22 minutes per game and was primarily deployed as a spot-up shooter in coach Nate Oats' system, which relies heavily on pushing the pace and putting up a high volume of 3-point shots. Nearly 60 percent of Primo's shots at Alabama came from beyond the arc and he converted at a solid 38.1 percent clip.

But Primo believes that he has more to offer, something he has been excited to show scouts at the Combine and pre-draft workouts.

"I'm not just a shooter," Primo said. "I'm able to make plays out there and be a decision-maker on a team, be able to get downhill and score, get downhill and spray out, get downhill and make plays. It's a big thing for me. It's always been part of my game.

"I think I did a good job of being an off-ball player while I was at Alabama, but I want to show that I can do both."

Primo, who measured at 6-5 with a 6-9 wingspan at the Combine, is a clear student of the game. He discussed his admiration of Bradley Beal and Devin Booker for their ability to break down defenses off the dribble, something he also hopes to do at the next level.

While he is only 18, Primo believes his game is mature enough to for him to stick in the league.

"I'm just ready to learn," he said. "...I think my skillset is built for the NBA right now and I'm only going to get better."

Joshua Primo, J.T. Thor

After strong showings at the NBA Draft Combine, Alabama's Joshua Primo (left) and Auburn's J.T. Thor (right) both could be potential first-round picks. (Photo Credit: NBAE/Getty Images)

Thor, meanwhile, has tantalizing potential. He measured at 6-9 with a wingspan of over 7-3, the second-longest measurement at the combine. He put on an impressive pro day while in Chicago, where he demonstrated his athleticism and a solid shooting stroke.

Thor was born in South Sudan, but his family immigrated to Alaska, where he spent most of his childhood. He eventually made his way to Auburn, where he averaged 9.4 points, 5 rebounds, and 1.4 blocks as a freshman before declaring for the draft.

Because of his length, Thor could be in hot demand for teams looking for a big player capable of guarding multiple positions.

"I feel like to be a successful player in the league one day I've got to be that two-way player, that defensive player first," he said Wednesday. "And then develop my offensive game as it comes along."

A big part of that development will be working on his shot. The 6-9 lefty hoisted 74 3-pointers in 27 games at Auburn. He knocked down just 22 of them (29.7 percent), but has a solid stroke and showcased his potential in a Feb. 13 game at Kentucky, when he went 5-for-6 from beyond the arc while tallying 24 points and nine rebounds, both season highs.

If he can become more consistent with his jumper, Thor has the potential to evolve into a "unicorn," the rare NBA big man capable of protecting the rim on one end and stretching the floor on the other.

Steward was the final underclassman at Wednesday's workout, electing to turn pro after a freshman year at Duke where he averaged 13 points, 3.9 rebounds, and 2.4 assists.

At under 6-2 and 166 pounds, Steward acknowledged that his size will be the biggest hurdle to him reaching the NBA. He played primarily off the ball at Duke, but will likely need to handle point guard duties at the next level.

Steward said his biggest strength is his scoring and his ability to create shots at all three levels of the floor. He reached double figures in 17 of 24 contests with the Blue Devils.

With news that legendary coach Mike Krzyzewski is stepping down as the head of Duke's program after next season, Steward will be one of the final players who had the opportunity to play for Coach K, something the Chicago native takes great pride in.

"Amazing experience," Steward said. "Coach K is the greatest coach of all time. He's really smart, his IQ is crazy. I learned a lot from him, especially (about) game preparation, always being ready, going out there and having a great attitude all the time."

Marcus Zegarowski

Creighton guard Marcus Zegarowski is hoping to follow the path of his brother Michael Carter-Williams to the NBA. (Photo Credit: NBAE/Getty Images)

Upperclassmen Zegarowski, Omoruyi Hoping to Impress Pacers' Brass

Zegarowski and Omoruyi were the two oldest players at Wednesday's workout, both entering the draft after distinguished collegiate careers.

The 22-year-old Zegarowski had three strong seasons at Creighton and helped lead the Bluejays to the Sweet 16 in March. Zegarowski was named First Team All-Big East last season, when he averaged 15.8 points and 4.3 assists.

When examining Zegarowski's stats, his consistency as a 3-point shooter stands out. Zegarowski attempted a high volume of threes in each of his three seasons at Creighton, but shot just over 42 percent from beyond the arc every year. He converted 42.1 percent of his 3-point attempts while hoisting 6.6 per game in 2020-21.

"I think I'm the best shooter in the draft, off the dribble, off the catch," Zegarowski said. "I think I can really still improve on it. Improve my range, improve the speed of my shot, improve just the way I get into my shot. I definitely depend on my jump shot a lot. It's something that can really help me in this league."

Omoruyi may seem old for a draft prospect at 24, but when you factor in that the soccer-loving big man didn't take up the sport of basketball until 16, it's clear that he still has plenty of room for growth.

The 6-7, 233-pound forward showed steady improvement during his time in college. He spent three seasons at Rutgers, improving his averages from 2.4 points and 2.2 rebounds as a freshman to 13.8 points and 7.2 boards as a junior, before transferring to Oregon.

After sitting out last season, Omoruyi starred for the Ducks, helping lead Oregon to a conference title while averaging a team-high 17.1 points per game. Most impressively, Omoruyi developed into a solid 3-point shooter. After making just 14 3-pointers over his three years at Rutgers (none in his first two seasons), he went 41-for109 (37.6 percent) in his lone year at Oregon.

"I have a high work ethic," Omoruyi said of his improvement as a shooter. "I'm willing to leave it all on the line. I'm willing to work. I'm willing to come to the gym every day and put that work in and get better. Everyone can tell it's happened year by year and I keep getting better."

At the next level, Omoruyi hopes to earn a roster spot by embracing a "3-and-D" role as a player who can knock down open shots while defending multiple positions.

"I'm know I'm not going to be in the same position that I was in Oregon being the main guy," he said. "So just being the best role player I can be and coming out to help my team in any way I can."

Both Zegarowski and Omoruyi have close relationships with players on the current Pacers roster.

Zegarowski lists Doug McDermott, whose father Greg is the head coach at Creighton, among his supporters. McDermott reached out to Zegarowski when he declared for the draft to congratulate him and offer advice.

Omoruyi, meanwhile, goes way back with Oshae Brissett, a fellow Toronto native who was a grade behind Omoruyi at Orangeville Prep. Omoruyi was thrilled to see Brissett have a breakout year after signing with the Pacers in April.

"I've known Oshae for a long time," Omoruyi said. "I'm just so happy for him to where be he's at right now. That shows the work ethic and it shows the Canadian pipeline continuing to grow. It's a big thing for us seeing what Oshae has done and it gives hope to all the other guys coming up."

Zegarowki has an even deeper connection to another NBA player. His older brother is Michael Carter-Williams, an eight-year veteran and the 2014 Rookie of the Year.

"He set the blueprint for me," Zegarowski said of his brother. "I talk to him every day. He checks in on me, asks how I'm doing. He's someone I go to when I'm at my lowest, he's someone I go to when I'm at my highest. He's a big mentor for me.

"And to have him in my corner, to have him go through all the things I go through, especially in basketball, it's definitely a blessing to have. I look at it as like a cheat code because not everybody has that."

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