2021 Draft Workouts: Moses Moody

July 6, 2021 - Arkansas guard Moses Moody 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: Moses Moody

July 6, 2021 - Arkansas guard Moses Moody speaks with Pacers.com's Wheat Hotchkiss following his pre-draft workout with the Pacers at the Ascension St. Vincent Center.
Jul 6, 2021  |  03:02

2021 Draft Workouts: Kai Jones

July 6, 2021 - Texas forward Kai Jones speaks with Pacers.com's Wheat Hotchkiss following his pre-draft workout with the Pacers at the Ascension St. Vincent Center.
Jul 6, 2021  |  02:39

Kai Jones, Moses Moody Run Two-Man Game for Pacers

by Wheat Hotchkiss
Pacers.com Writer/Editor

Tuesday's pre-draft workout at the Ascension St. Vincent Center had a unique feel.

For one thing, it was the first workout that new Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle attended in person (he was in South Carolina last week, when the Pacers held their first two workouts in preparation for the 2021 NBA Draft on July 29).

But the most interesting aspect of Tuesday's workout was the number of participants. Texas big man Kai Jones and Arkansas wing Moses Moody were the only two players who auditioned for the Pacers, a pair of potential lottery picks and candidates for Indiana to select with the 13th overall selection.

Typically, pre-draft workouts in Indiana feature six prospects competing in three-on-three drills. There have been a few occasions in recent years where the Pacers have had a single player visit the team facility for a solo workout (examples include Jalen Brunson and Dzanan Musa in 2018 and Luka Samanic in 2019). But Tuesday's workout was the first time in recent memory that the Pacers had a pair of prospects in for a workout.

Jones and Moody are well acquainted, as both players are signed with Klutch Sports Group and have been working out together in California during the pre-draft process. Tuesday was the first time either player worked out for an individual team.

In many ways, the pairing made sense. Both players are projected to be drafted right around the Pacers' pick and they know each other well already. Because they don't play the same position, they weren't asked to directly compete against each other, but instead displayed their abilities to operate in a two-man game.

"It was just a lot of shooting together," Jones said of the workout. "We were passing to each other. Just working playing together because we're different positions. Setting some screens for him, rolling to the rim, picking and popping. Just working on different NBA actions, handoffs, stuff like that."

Jones, a 6-11 big man from the Bahamas, offers tantalizing potential. Originally a track athlete, he picked up basketball as a teenager, eventually moving to Orlando for his junior year of high school and transferring to Brewster Academy in New Hampshire (which both current Pacers T.J. Warren and JaKarr Sampson attended).

After playing a minor role as a freshman at Texas, Jones showed significant improvement as a sophomore. He averaged 3.6 points and 3.2 rebounds over 16.7 minutes per game in his first season in Austin, but increased those averages to 8.8 points and 4.8 rebounds in 22.8 minutes per contest last season.

Those aren't eye-popping numbers, but Jones' minutes were limited somewhat due to Texas' frontcourt depth. He came off the bench for all but four of his 26 games as a sophomore, as the Longhorns started senior center Jericho Sims and heralded freshman Greg Brown III.

Still, Jones' physical gifts for his size and his development over the past year have made him a likely lottery pick. He will almost certainly be the first Texas player to hear his name called on draft night.

"My versatility," Jones said Tuesday when asked what he can bring to an NBA team. "I can guard inside and out and I can score inside and out as well. My ability to defend, rim run, rebound the ball, block shots. And then on offense, sprinting the floor, cutting to the basket for finishes, the ability to catch and shoot and shoot off the dribble."

Kai Jones

Texas' Kai Jones has raw potential could entice the Pacers with the 13th overall pick. (Photo Credit: NBAE/Getty Images)

Despite being 6-11, Jones moves very fluidly for a player of his size, showcasing footwork and footspeed from his days as a track star. He can handle the ball well and has a real penchant for throwing down what he describes as "violent" slams off of lobs and in transition. He was particularly impactful on the offensive glass, pulling down 3.4 offensive boards per 40 minutes, though he will need to add some size to his 221-pound frame to consistently control the defensive boards.

Jones also has displayed some promise as a shooter with potential to eventually extend his range out beyond the 3-point arc. Last season at Texas, he went 13-for-34 (38.2 percent) from 3-point range.

Pacers fans will likely draw comparisons between Jones and Myles Turner, who played primarily off the bench at Texas as a freshman before Indiana drafted him 11th overall in 2015. There certainly are some similarities in their size and use at Texas, but their games are somewhat different. Turner was a better shot-blocker and had more shooting range coming out of college, whereas Jones' athleticism and versatility are his best attributes. The NBA also listed Jones as a power forward and not a center at the draft combine.

Jones said he knows Turner "a little bit" from their Texas connection and has texted with the Pacers center a few times in recent weeks, getting his perspective on the pre-draft process.

The two Texas big men could potentially be teammates in a few weeks' time. While the Pacers have a trio of young centers in Turner, All-Star Domantas Sabonis, and recent first-round pick Goga Bitadze, they are still looking for additional frontcourt depth and versatility, something Jones could potentially add.

"I know they're an organization that has a winning culture," Jones said of the Pacers. "They've won a lot of basketball games, had a lot of great players come through here. Right now they have a pretty solid team, but I feel like they could use some youth and athleticism just to bring some excitement, some vigor and violence to the team. I feel like I could bring that to this organization."

While Jones' draft stock is based heavily on his potential, Moody is closer to a finished product coming out of college. He was the SEC Freshman of the Year and a first-team All-SEC selection after a standout season at Arkansas, where he averaged 16.8 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 1.0 steals per game.

Despite playing on a veteran-laden team, Moody took on a primary scoring role for his hometown Razorbacks. The Little Rock native topped 20 points nine times in 32 games and helped lead Arkansas to the Elite Eight in March, the first time the school had reached the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament since 1996.

Moody is a strong shooter, converting just under 36 percent of his attempts from 3-point range while taking over five per game. He was shooting almost 38 percent from beyond the arc before a mini 3-for-17 slump in the NCAA Tournament.

Moses Moody

Arkansas' Moses Moody has all the tools to be a "3-and-D" wing in the NBA. (Photo Credit: NBAE/Getty Images)

He also displayed a knack for getting to the free throw line, where he converted at a high rate. Moody attempted nearly six free throws per game and shot 81.2 percent from the charity stripe. In Arkansas' signature win over SEC champions Alabama on Feb. 24, Moody went 16-for-19 from the free throw line while posting 24 points, five rebounds, four assists, three blocks, and a steal.

Moody also projects to be a strong two-way player at the next level. At the combine, he measured at 6-6 and 210 pounds with a wingspan just under 7-1. He puts that frame to good use on the defensive end, guarding multiple positions and rebounding well from the wing.

One of the youngest prospects in this year's draft class, having just turned 19 on May 31, Moody still believes he has the tools to contribute right away at the next level.

"I can shoot, so that fits in on any roster," he said Tuesday. "Obviously that's going to be something I'm definitely going to add (to a team). And I'm also going to defend my butt off on any possession. So those are two things that I'm going to do regardless and the rest I'll figure out."

Moody counts a few other dynamic scoring guards among his mentors. He played for Wizards All-Star Bradley Beal's AAU team, Bradley Beal Elite, joining the the 17-and-under team as a 15-year-old. He also has a close relationship with eight-time All-Star Joe Johnson, a fellow Little Rock native.

Given his skillset, there could well be mutual interest between the Pacers and Moody if he is still on the board when Indiana goes on the clock.

"I know the Pacers play tenacious basketball," Moody said. "They play on both ends of the floor. Play defense, play offense. Just gritty. They're going to use and really appreciate every possession. That's something that I really feel like I can be a part of."

Returning to Indianapolis was a bit of a trip for Moody, as he spent several weeks in the city during the NCAA Tournament, but was largely confined to his hotel room aside from practices and games due to COVID-19 protocols. Still, those few weeks were the highlight of a very memorable chapter in Moody's career, playing for his hometown team.

"I've been watching the Razorbacks my whole life," he said. "I just always wanted to be somebody that can really help change the program and put us on the trajectory to do some great things. I feel like me and my team were a big part in that."

Jones and Moody have a little more than three weeks remaining until they hear their name called in the NBA Draft. While many prospects don't know for certain if they'll be drafted, for both of them it's simply a question of who will choose them. Could it be the Pacers? They'll find out soon.

Moody, for his part, said he hadn't yet wrapped his mind around what it will mean to be drafted. Jones, meanwhile, has allowed himself to start dreaming, if only a little.

"It would be amazing," he said. "I'll be very excited. But that's just the beginning of the journey. I'm just getting started and I have a lot to show and a lot to do. So it's exciting for sure because I know my future's so bright."

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