2019 Draft Workouts: Ty Jerome
May 21, 2019 - Virginia guard Ty Jerome speaks with Pacers.com's Wheat Hotchkiss following his pre-draft workout with the Pacers at the St. Vincent Center.
Draft Workouts 190521 - 1
May 21, 2019 - Virginia guard Ty Jerome speaks with Pacers.com's Wheat Hotchkiss following his pre-draft workout with the Pacers at the St. Vincent Center.
May 21, 2019 - Belmont forward Dylan Windler speaks with Pacers.com's Wheat Hotchkiss following his pre-draft workout with the Pacers at the St. Vincent Center.
May 21, 2019 - Brian Bowen II speaks with Pacers.com's Wheat Hotchkiss following his pre-draft workout with the Pacers at the St. Vincent Center.
May 21, 2019 - Washington guard Jaylen Nowell speaks with Pacers.com's Wheat Hotchkiss following his pre-draft workout with the Pacers at the St. Vincent Center.
May 21, 2019 - Hofstra guard Justin Wright-Foreman speaks with Pacers.com's Wheat Hotchkiss following his pre-draft workout with the Pacers at the St. Vincent Center.
May 21, 2019 - Gonzaga guard Josh Perkins speaks with Pacers.com's Wheat Hotchkiss following his pre-draft workout with the Pacers at the St. Vincent Center.
Jerome Brings Championship Pedigree to Pacers Workout
Perry Meridian's Windler Also Gets Audition with Pacers
After experiencing the highest of highs and the lowest of lows in college basketball, Ty Jerome is ready to see what the NBA has to offer.
The 6-5 point guard helped lead Virginia on one of the most memorable national championship runs in recent memory this spring. A year after being the first number one seed to lose to a 16 seed in NCAA Tournament history, the Cavaliers earned redemption in 2019, pulling off three straight improbable comebacks beginning in the Elite Eight to capture the first national championship in school history.
Together with Indianapolis native Kyle Guy and De'Andre Hunter, Jerome was one of the catalysts of Virginia's offense during their many shining moments throughout the tournament run.
He averaged 21.3 points, 7 rebounds, and 7 assists while committing a total of just four turnovers in their dramatic victories over Purdue (in the Elite Eight), Auburn (in the Final Four), and Texas Tech (in the national championship game). He made a number of big plays in each of those games, none bigger than his drive and kick to Hunter for the corner three that forced overtime in the title game.
"That's the most close-knit group I've ever been with," Jerome recalled after his pre-draft workout with the Pacers on Tuesday. "Every day, going through the ups and downs with those guys was amazing. We could lose as a team (and) nobody would point their fingers. And the wins are that much more special when you're doing it with guys you love."
Jerome elected to forego his senior season and make the jump to the NBA. The early consensus has him going in the latter portion of the first round of next month's NBA Draft. The Pacers hold the 18th pick and could be in the market for a point guard, with both starter Darren Collison and backup Cory Joseph entering free agency.
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Jerome's game offers plenty of appeal to NBA scouts. He has great size for a point guard and is an excellent shooter both off the dribble and off the catch. He knocked down just under 40 percent of his 3-pointers as a junior while attempting over five threes per game, often pulling up from NBA range or deeper. Jerome is also one of the best passers in this year's class thanks to the combination of his size and court vision.
As a junior, Jerome averaged 13.6 points and 5.5 assists. Those are good numbers at any college program, but great numbers when you consider that Virginia played at the slowest pace of any Division 1 school last season under head coach Tony Bennett.
The biggest question with Jerome is how he adjusts to the speed and athleticism of the NBA game. While he has some crafty moves offensively that can make up for his lack of explosiveness, teams will want to see if he can stay in front of quicker guards on the defensive end.
Jerome is well aware of the challenges awaiting him at the next level, but also believes the NBA game can allow him to do things he wasn't necessarily able to do while playing in Bennett's system.
"The physicality is definitely going to be an adjustment," he said. "I think the court's going to be more spaced, so you're going to have more opportunity to break your man down off the dribble and get guys open shots."
Growing up in New York City, Jerome earned his stripes playing pickup games in parks against older kids, games he credits with helping bolster his toughness and bravado on the hardwood. He believes that experience combined with his championship pedigree in college should make him an attractive candidate to NBA teams.
"I'm not really looking to prove anything," Jerome said. "Just come out here and be myself. Be who I am and hopefully the right team takes a chance on me."
Lightly recruited out of high school, Indianapolis native Dylan Windler is now considered a potential first-round pick in the NBA Draft. (Photo Credit: @Pacers)
Winding Road to NBA for Indianapolis Native Windler
For much of his time at Perry Meridian High School, Dylan Windler thought his future didn't lie on the hardwood, but on the golf course. A talented junior golfer, Windler was only a lightly recruited basketball player in high school before Belmont swooped in with a late offer.
"There was a point in time where I didn't know if I was going to be playing (basketball) at the next level in college," Windler admitted on Tuesday.
Even after his first two years at the Ohio Valley Conference university in Nashville, Windler wasn't on the radar of any NBA teams. He averaged 4.3 points per game as a freshman coming off the bench and 9.2 as a sophomore in the starting lineup.
But the 6-8 forward's stock took off at some point over his last two seasons in college. Now, coming off a standout senior season where he averaged 21.3 points and 10.8 rebounds while shooting 54 percent from the field and 42.9 percent from 3-point range, Windler is now viewed as a potential first-round pick, a meteoric rise for a player who once was unsure if he would even play basketball in college.
"I was just working on my game every summer, just trying to be the best player I could be," Windler said. "I got better every year and junior, senior year I started to get some NBA looks and it just took off from there."
Windler attended the NBA Draft Combine last week in Chicago and had his first pre-draft workout on Tuesday with his hometown team.
"It's been a heck of an opportunity and a heck of a blessing and honor just to be able to come and work out for these guys," Windler said. "I grew up going to a lot of games, so being able to be back in this facility and be working out in front of the head coach and the front office, it's been a blessing."
Windler's offensive prowess makes an intriguing prospect for NBA teams. While there are questions about his athleticism, Windler said on Tuesday that he believes he is "a little more athletic than I get credit for" and that showed at the Combine, where he had the fifth-fastest time of players who tested in the shuttle run (2.94 seconds) and showed off a 37.5-inch vertical jump.
Workouts will offer scouts a chance to see how Windler stacks up against a higher level of competition than he saw in the OVC, though he performed well against high-major competition in college, particularly in the NCAA Tournament against Maryland, when he tallied 35 points and 11 rebounds while going 7-for-14 from beyond the 3-point arc.
Windler's focus during the pre-draft process is primarily on the defensive end, where he pledged to "work my butt off" to show teams that he can provide versatility on more than one end of the floor.
And while he now knows that his future lies in the NBA, Windler also believes his experience as a competitive golfer (his best ever round is a 67) can help him on the court.
"I think there's a lot that translates over as far as the mental aspect of the game, just moving on from (one) shot to the next," Windler said. "When you hit a bad shot, just move on. The same goes for basketball. You miss a shot, just move on to the next possession, try to get a stop on the defensive end.
"Little putts I think correlates to free throws. You've done it a million times and you expect to make it, but there's a little added pressure that comes with that."
After being ruled ineligible by the NCAA, Brian Bowen II spent the past season playing professionally in Australia. (Photo Credit: @Pacers)
Bowen Out of Exile, Back on Draft Radar
This wasn't the path Brian Bowen II envisioned taking to the NBA. Bowen was a McDonald's All-American at La Lumiere School in La Porte in 2017.
His high school teammate, Jaren Jackson Jr., won Defensive Player of the Year honors as a freshman at Michigan State and then was picked by the Memphis Grizzlies with the fourth overall selection in last June's NBA Draft.
Bowen was envisioning following a similar trajectory, but he never played a second of college basketball.
Bowen enrolled at the University of Louisville in 2017, but shortly thereafter, his father was implicated in the FBI investigation that rocked college basketball for allegedly accepting a bribe during the recruiting process. The ensuing scandal led to the firing of Louisville coach Rick Pitino and athletic director Tom Jurich. The younger Bowen was suspended by the university, though he was eventually cleared by the FBI of any wrongdoing.
He transferred to South Carolina in January, hoping to receive clearance to play for the Gamecocks in the 2018-19 season, but the NCAA eventually ruled that we would have to sit out another season.
So the 6-7 forward headed to last year's NBA Draft Combine having gone a full year without playing competitive basketball. After failing to impress scouts, he withdrew his name from the draft and signed a contract to play with the Sydney Kings in Australia's National Basketball League.
After a year of professional basketball, Bowen felt much more prepared when he returned to the Combine last week.
"It helped me a lot, man," Bowen said. "Just to deal with the physicality and obviously playing with professionals, a lot of older guys. Just getting comfortable playing again, building that confidence."
Bowen played a limited role for Sydney on a team that featured this year's NBL MVP and NBA veteran Andrew Bogut. Bowen averaged 6.3 points and 3.2 rebounds in 15 minutes per game for the Kings, shooting 45 percent from the field and 34 percent from 3-point range.
He is actually not the first prospect to spend a year playing professionally in Australia. Terrance Ferguson spent the 2016-17 season in the NBL, playing a similarly limited role for the Adelaide 36ers. While his production was limited, the experience of playing with grown men seemed to help Ferguson. The Oklahoma City Thunder took him with the 21st overall pick in the 2017 Draft and he started 74 games for OKC last season.
Bowen is hopeful that his experience can lead to similar success as he adjusts to the next level.
"I knew the situation I was going into, going over there," Bowen said. "That was the reason that I went to that team, just to show that I can play in different roles, be on winning teams and be able to contribute."
After speaking with teams last week in Chicago, Bowen said he feels confident he's shown growth over the past season.
"Honestly, they just wanted to see me play," he said. "I didn't play for an entire year. But I got to show them that, show them I'm a lot stronger. I feel a lot better about my shot."
And while his college career didn't go the way he envisioned, Bowen believes that getting through that adversity can help him moving forward.
"It's matured me a lot faster than I thought it would," he said. "I'm a lot more mature about things, a lot more confident. I feel like I can handle a lot of things now."
Washington's Jaylen Nowell (left), Gonzaga's Josh Perkins (center), and Hofstra's Justin Wright-Foreman (right) worked out for the Pacers on Tuesday. (Photo Credit: @Pacers)
Trio of Guards Completes First Workout Group
In addition to Jerome, Windler, and Bowen, Tuesday's first pre-draft workout group included guards Jaylen Nowell (Washington), Justin Wright-Foreman (Hofstra), and Josh Perkins (Gonzaga).
Nowell is a 6-4 combo guard out of Washington. He was the Pac-12 Player of the Year as a sophomore, when he averaged 16.2 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 3.1 assists while shooting an efficient 50.2 percent from the field and 44 percent from 3-point range (up dramatically from his .351 3-point percentage as a freshman).
Following Tuesday's workout, Nowell said he felt he performed well at the Combine, where he tried to show his "very complete" offensive game.
"A lot of guys were coming out there trying to prove a point," he said. "I felt like I had a point to prove as well, so I just wanted to make sure that I did my best and be one of those guys that (teams) walked out and remembered my name."
Nowell's point to prove largely hinges on the lack of respect for West Coast basketball, particularly last season. The Pac-12 sent just three teams to the 2019 NCAA Tournament, with Nowell's ninth-seeded Huskies earning the best seed of those three teams, leading to questions about the level of competition he faced in college.
"Everybody has said that like, 'You're the Pac-12 Player of the Year, but it was down this year,'" Nowell said. "I honestly don't know what that means. That just obviously proves that I've got way more to prove."
Questions also center around the level of competition Wright-Foreman faced in his time at Hofstra, but no one is questioning his production. The 6-2 guard was second in the country in scoring as a senior, racking up 27.1 points per game.
But even at a heavy volume, Wright-Foreman was extremely efficient offensively, shooting 51.1 percent from the field (on 18.5 attempts per game), 42.5 percent from 3-point range (on 7.4 attempts per contest), and 86.4 percent from the free throw line.
"I'm electric," Wright-Foreman said when asked to describe his game to people who haven't seen him play. "I bring a lot of energy. I'm very selfless, I like getting people involved. I can score the ball in a lot of ways. And I love to compete."
As a freshman at Hofstra, Wright-Foreman barely got off the bench, averaging 1.6 points in 4.1 minutes per game. But thanks to a strong support system led by his mother and also Hofstra assistant and former NBA point guard Speedy Claxton, Wright-Foreman stuck with it and blossomed into a two-time CAA Player of the Year.
"I had a good support group with my family and my friends around me to keep me separated from a lot of nonsense and just strictly focused on basketball," he said. "I had to grow a lot both on offense and defense and I started watching a lot of film."
While Wright-Foreman was utilized more as a scoring guard in college, he believes he has the skill set to succeed as a point guard in the NBA. He hopes to use the pre-draft process to show teams that he is "a very underrated passer" who can initiate offense for his teammates as well as himself.
The final member of Tuesday's first workout group, Perkins, brings a bevy of experience. The 6-3 point guard was a four-year starter at Gonzaga and actually spent five years in Spokane as an injury early into his first year on campus forced him to redshirt.
In his first two years at Gonzaga, Perkins was teammates with current Pacers center Domantas Sabonis. He still considers Sabonis one of his closest friends and said he saw him just a couple days prior to his workout with the Pacers.
"He just said be myself, play hard," Perkins said. "Be myself personality wise and on the court. That's really the only advice I needed.
"And he told me to pass him the ball if I do end up coming here. I can do that."
Perkins is a capable point guard, who averaged 11 points per game as a senior and ranked 13th in the country by dishing out 6.3 assists per game. His 3-point percentage dipped from .399 as a junior to .366 last season, but he has shown the ability to knock down open shots.
Perkins' age and athleticism probably will prevent him from hearing his name called early on draft night, but his pedigree, work ethic, and team-oriented attitude could convince a team to take a flier on him in the second round.
"I'm a winner," he said. "I'm going to do whatever it takes for (my) team to win. It's not about me. It's about us. It's not about my personal accolades. It's about what we can do as a team.
"(I'm) just trying to be myself for any team that needs me and hopefully one takes a chance on a kid from Denver."