Michael Gbinije, Sheldon McClellan, Tyrone Wallace
Among the prospects who worked out for the Pacers on Tuesday were (L-R) Syracuse wing Michael Gbinije, Miami guard Sheldon McClellan, and Cal point guard Tyrone Wallace.
Pacers.com

Pacers Bring in Veteran, Athletic Perimeter Players for First Pre-Draft Workout

by Wheat Hotchkiss
Pacers.com Writer/Editor
@Wheat_Hotchkiss

One day after being officially hired as the new head coach of the Indiana Pacers, Nate McMillan hit the ground running on Tuesday morning, leading six prospects through the team's first pre-draft workout on the practice court at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

The Pacers own the 20th and 50th overall selections in this year's draft, which will take place on June 23 at the Barclays Center.

The media was permitted to watch the last 15 or so minutes of the workout, during which all of the prospects went through rather rigorous shooting drills on both sides of the court. McMillan oversaw the workout with assistance from Dan Burke and Popeye Jones, assistants on last year's coaching staff, and Steve Gansey, head coach of the Fort Wayne Mad Ants.

As expected, Indiana University star Troy Williams received the bulk of the attention from the local media. Williams was the only underclassman in attendance on Tuesday and still has not signed with an agent. Under the NBA's new early entry rules, Williams is now allowed to participate in the NBA combine and pre-draft workouts up until the May 25 deadline, at which point he must decide whether he wants to stay in the draft or return to Bloomington for his senior season.

Pacers.com's Mark Montieth wrote about Williams and his looming decision, but below are some notes on each of the other five prospects at Tuesday's workout. The Pacers brought in a solid group of experienced and athletic perimeter players on Tuesday. Williams may have received the most local interest, but the other five players are all actually ranked ahead of him by several prominent draft prognosticators, including Draft Express and ESPN.com's Chad Ford.

Isaiah Cousins

While national player of the year Buddy Hield got most of the attention during Oklahoma's run to the 2016 Final Four, the Sooners weren't just a one-man show.

Cousins, a 6-foot-4 combo guard, enjoyed a solid four-year career in Norman. He was the team's third-leading scorer at 12.6 points per game and led the team with 4.5 assists per game.

Cousins' biggest strength is his outside shooting. After making just 10 of 40 shots from 3-point range as a freshman, Cousins shot over 40 percent from 3-point range in each of his final three seasons at Oklahoma. As a senior, he knocked down 41.1 percent of his 158 attempts from beyond the arc.

He played off the ball for most of his college career, but made a late transition to point guard and seems to fit best at that position at the next level. He has good size for the position, is a capable defender, and has shown flashes of playmaking ability. For instance, he dished out 15 assists in the Sooners' two wins over Texas A&M and Oregon in the 2016 West regional.

Most draft experts believe that Cousins helped himself with his showing at the 2016 NBA Draft Combine last weekend in Chicago. He acquitted himself well running the point in 5-on-5 play, collecting eight assists in 21 minutes in one scrimmage.

Born and raised in the Bronx, Cousins prides himself on his toughness, which he said he honed playing pickup games in the park.

Dorian Finney-Smith

Finney-Smith was the biggest player on the court on Tuesday. The 23-year-old measured out at 6-8 with a wingspan just under 7 feet in Chicago.

Finney-Smith just wrapped up a solid senior season at Florida, where he led the Gators in scoring and rebounding. He rebounded well in each of his four seasons in college (he spent his freshman year at Virginia Tech before transferring to Florida), collecting 953 boards in his career.

"I think I've got a knack for the ball," Finney-Smith said about his rebounding ability. "The ball always tends to find my hands. I think that's a gift."

In addition to his work on the boards, Finney-Smith also established himself as a capable outside shooter during his time in college. His 3-point percentage was .426 as a junior and .368 as a senior and he held his own in shooting drills after Tuesday's workout.

He would traditionally project as a small forward at the next level, but could also fit in as a new-wave "stretch 4" in the mold of a Draymond Green. Interestingly, Green was the player Finney-Smith referenced when asked which players he models his game after.

"I'm not as big as him, but how he always finds the ball and plays with a lot of energy and can guard a lot of positions," Finney-Smith said about the similarities between his game and the Warriors' do-everything forward.

Michael Gbinije

After Tuesday's pre-draft workout finished, Pacers forward Rakeem Christmas made his way onto the practice court for his own offseason workout. Christmas saw a familiar face in Gbinije, his former roommate at Syracuse.

"That's my guy. He's one of the reasons why I ended up at Syracuse in the first place," said Gbinije, who transferred to Cuse after spending his freshman season at Duke.

Gbinije's career arc was actually strikingly similar to that of Christmas. Both were late-bloomers who took on much bigger roles as upperclassmen after playing behind a slew of future NBA players in their early days with the Orange.

Gbinije's scoring average jumped from 3.4 points per game as a sophomore to 12.7 as a junior to 17.5 as a senior. He was a solid shooter in college, knocking down over 39 percent of his 3-point shots in each of his final two seasons.

There is a long list of players who transitioned from playing off the ball in college to running the point in the NBA, but Gbinije is actually attempting to do the opposite. Although he's 6-foot-7, Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim relied on Gbinije to run the offense at times in college. Gbinije, who turns 24 on June 5, believes that that experience helps him as he now auditions for NBA teams as a wing player.

"Going into workouts, I don't really have too much of an idea of what we're going to do," Gbinije said. "So being versatile kind of helps me adjust (quickly)."

Gbinije said he is putting a lot of emphasis on playing well on the defensive end during the pre-draft process, especially since he played almost exclusively zone defense in college.

Whether he ends up hearing his name called on draft night or not, it will be a summer to remember for Gbinije. He helped the Nigerian national team qualify for the Olympics last summer and plans to play for the team once again in Rio de Janeiro.

Sheldon McClellan

Despite a decorated college career that included a selection to the All-ACC second team as a senior, former Miami guard Sheldon McClellan was surprisingly left off the initial list of invites to the NBA Draft Combine. The 6-6 scoring wing only got an invite after Kansas guard Wayne Selden backed out of the combine due to injury.

When he got to Chicago, McClellan played with an added fire. He led all scorers in Friday's 5-on-5 action with 22 points, going 3-for-5 from 3-point range and getting to the free throw line 12 times.

"I felt like with what I did this year that I definitely should have been invited (right away)," McClellan said. "But things happen for a reason. I had a great showing and I proved why I needed to be there."

The 23-year-old out of Houston was a gifted scorer throughout his college career. He averaged 11.3 and 13.5 points per game in two years at Texas before transferring to Miami.

But when he got to Coral Gables, McClellan demonstrated considerable improvement with his outside shot. While sitting out the 2013-14 season, he got up at 6:00 AM every morning and worked out twice a day aside from practices to get up extra shots. His 3-point percentage ultimately went from .273 as a sophomore to .358 as a junior and finally .406 as a senior.

McClellan measured out well in Chicago, showing a 41.5-inch vertical. He also believes that his experience playing for coach Jim Larranaga, who runs an NBA-style offense at Miami, will help him make the transition to the next level.

"I think I'm accustomed to the NBA offense a little bit," McClellan said. "That's all we ran at Miami is pick-and-roll, drive-and-kick, and kind of play off your instincts."

Tyrone Wallace

Wallace, a 6-6 point guard, had a chance to turn pro after a stellar junior season. He averaged 17.1 points per game, was a first-team All-Pac-12 selection in 2014-15 and some analysts projected him as a possible early second-round pick in the 2015 draft.

But Wallace decided to head back to school for reasons that had very little to do with basketball.

"I got a chance to get my degree," Wallace said. "I was the first in my family. That was important for me, important to my grandfather."

A year later, Wallace is now the proud owner of a degree in social welfare from one of the nation's best public universities and is ready to chase the NBA dream.

His numbers dipped slightly as a senior as the Golden Bears added a pair of McDonald's All-Americans to the roster in freshman phenoms Jaylen Brown and Ivan Rabb. Still, it was Wallace who finished the year as the team's leading scorer and was named MVP at Cal's postseason awards banquet.

Wallace averaged 15.3 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 4.4 assists per game in his final year on campus, but battled through some tough luck with injuries. He broke his non-shooting hand twice, including just before the start of the NCAA Tournament.

He said on Tuesday that the second break healed in less than four weeks, allowing him to get back on the court in plenty of time for pre-draft workouts.

Wallace has great size and athleticism for a point guard, but it remains to be seen if he is a good enough shooter to make an NBA roster. The left-handed Wallace has a bit of a quirky release and never shot better than 32 percent from 3-point range in his four years in college.

Draft Workouts: Troy Williams

May 17, 2016: Former Indiana University forward Troy Williams met with Pacers.com to discuss today's workout, as well as what he can bring to an NBA team.

Draft Workouts 160517

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Draft Workouts: Troy Williams

May 17, 2016: Former Indiana University forward Troy Williams met with Pacers.com to discuss today's workout, as well as what he can bring to an NBA team.
May 17, 2016  |  01:34

Draft Workouts: Tyrone Wallace

May 17, 2016 - Pacers.com's Wheat Hotchkiss talks with California point guard Tyrone Wallace after his pre-draft workout with the Pacers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
May 17, 2016  |  01:49

Draft Workouts: Michael Gbinije

May 17, 2016: After today's draft workout, former Syracuse guard Michael Gbinije spoke with Pacers.com about the experience and his preparations for the draft.
May 17, 2016  |  01:30

Draft Workouts: Sheldon McClellan

May 17, 2016 - Pacers.com's Wheat Hotchkiss talks with Miami shooting guard Sheldon McClellan after his pre-draft workout with the Pacers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
May 17, 2016  |  01:32

Draft Workouts: Dorian Finney-Smith

May 17, 2016 - After the Pacers' first draft workouts of 2016, Dorian Finney-Smith, a 6-foot-7 wing from Florida, talked about what he thinks he can contribute at an NBA level. Finney-Smith spoke about his versatility on both sides of the ball, and his ability to rebound when playing with smaller units.
May 17, 2016  |  01:27

Draft Workouts: Isaiah Cousins

May 17, 2016 - After his draft workout with the Pacers, Oklahoma product Isaiah Cousins spoke with Pacers.com about his 3-point shooting, toughness, and the experience of going through the NBA Combine in Chicago. Cousins is a career 41 percent 3-point shooter and helped lead the Sooners to the Final Four this past season.
May 17, 2016  |  01:22
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