Local Kids Dunham, Loyd Trying to Make Good

The local kids passed through Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Wednesday, trying to prove their skills and athleticism lives up to their hopes and ambitions.

Butler's Kellen Dunham and the University of Indianapolis' Jordan Loyd were among the players to work out for the Pacers' scouting department and executive branch, joining four others with varying prospects. Taurean Prince (Baylor) and Diamond Stone (Maryland) are rated as potential choices for the Pacers' 20th pick in the first round, while Alex Poythress (Kentucky) and Goodluck Okonoboh (UNLV) should realistically be expecting second-round calls.

Dunham was regarded by some draft analysts as a second-round candidate heading into his senior season at Butler, but appears to be off the radar now. You won't find Loyd's name on any mock drafts, but that doesn't curtail his confidence. This time of year is great for NBA dreamers. They're getting the opportunity to work out for teams, and have yet to meet with rejection.

It's not strictly an act of charity on the part of the Pacers. They enjoy providing opportunity and evaluation for state programs, and it allows coaches to tell recruits their players got a look by an NBA team. But they're also looking for players for their Development League team in Fort Wayne.

For Dunham, being on the inside of the windows overlooking the Bankers Life practice court was a bit surreal. About 10 years ago, he was one of the young kids standing on the outside of them, watching with awe as real-life Pacers warmed up for games.

Now he's hoping to land a job that would keep him on the inside looking out.

"Twenty-two years of basketball comes down to this, so you're hoping for the best," he said. "It's an amazing feeling."

Dunham has a legitimate hope of being drafted. He's worked out for Boston, where he reunited with the coach who recruited him to Butler, Brad Stevens, as well as San Antonio and Memphis. He'll work out for Chicago on Monday.

He was a first-team all-Big East selection as a junior, which led analysts to project him as a draft prospect for right about where the Pacers have a second-round pick this year (50th overall). His shooting percentages improved across the board his senior season despite a horrific December slump, but his name rarely pops up on mock drafts this time around.

He has adequate size (6-6) for a shooting guard in the NBA. He has adequate accuracy, too, hitting 43 percent of his 3-pointers on his way to a 16.2 scoring average. His timing is good in that 3-point shooters have never been more popular in the NBA. They're a necessity for any team hoping to contend for a title, so a 40-percent shooter will always get a serious look.

Plenty of great shooters have come out of Indiana who didn't have enough of what it takes to play in the NBA, though. Dunham's challenge in the workouts is to show teams he's quick enough to get off his shot, stay in front of the man he's guarding and deal with pick-and-rolls both offensively and defensively. In other words, athleticism. He's been training to get stronger, but realizes some elements are out of his control.

"A lot of it is God-given, so you just trust that you have enough to get to the next level," he said.

While Dunham is a lock to at least get an invitation to try out for a Summer League team as a free agent, Loyd's situation is more precarious. He was invited to participate in Wednesday's session only because someone had canceled on Tuesday. Pacers scouting director Ryan Carr made a quick call to Loyd's agent, who relayed the message to him as he was doing laundry.

"I got excited and went straight to the gym and got some shots up," he said.

It will surely be his only workout for an NBA team, but not necessarily the end of his road to professional basketball. He reportedly shot well and looked as though he belonged in Wednesday's workout, and hopes to get an invitation to try out for a Summer League team. If not, there's always the D-League or an international team.

His eyes are wide open, and his head is clear.

"A lot of people don't know who I am," he said. "There's a lot question marks with me, but I play with that edge. I just want to show everybody that I belong here, and I belong in the NBA as well.

"It's a blessing to be here, and I just hope to learn; be a sponge," he added.

Loyd, who played his freshman season at Furman before transferring to Indianapolis, averaged 20.9 points on 50 percent shooting last season, including 41 percent of his 3-point shots. He draw his greatest confidence, though, from playing pickup games at the university with Pacers such as Paul George, Lance Stephenson and Chris Copeland a few years ago.

"It was awesome," he said. "Just having those guys (in the gym), and then me coming from where I come from … it was about trying to learn and also compete. Not give them anything, and show them I can play as well.

"It showed me I can compete. That was the biggest thing. It showed me I can play with them."

Showing that to NBA scouts is another matter entirely. But he believes he can.

"I do," he said. "I do. That's my goal. I've had that dream and that goal all my life. That won't change."

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