Draft Workouts: Trey Lyles

June 11, 2015 - Kentucky forward and Indianapolis native Trey Lyles participated in a pre-draft workout with the Pacers on Thursday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

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Draft Workouts: Trey Lyles

June 11, 2015 - Kentucky forward and Indianapolis native Trey Lyles participated in a pre-draft workout with the Pacers on Thursday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Jun 11, 2015  |  01:41

Draft Workouts: Bobby Portis

June 11, 2015 - Arkansas forward Bobby Portis talks to Pacers.com after a pre-draft workout with the Pacers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Jun 11, 2015  |  01:52

Draft Workouts: Jordan Mickey

June 11, 2015 - LSU forward Jordan Mickey talks to Pacers.com after a pre-draft workout with the Pacers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Jun 11, 2015  |  01:30

Draft Workouts: Jarvis Threatt

June 11, 2015 - D-League guard Jarvis Threatt talks to Pacers.com after a pre-draft workout with the Pacers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Jun 11, 2015  |  02:02

Draft Workouts: Larry Nance Jr.

June 11, 2015 - Wyoming forward Larry Nance Jr. talks to Pacers.com after a pre-draft workout with the Pacers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Jun 11, 2015  |  01:18

Draft Workouts: Shannon Scott

June 11, 2015 - Ohio State guard Shannon Scott talks to Pacers.com after a pre-draft workout with the Pacers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Jun 11, 2015  |  01:03

SEC Big Men Headline Thursday's Workout

by Wheat Hotchkiss
Pacers.com Writer/Editor

The Pacers brought in a bevy of talented post players for their fifth pre-draft workout on Thursday morning at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

Most draft workouts feature just two big men (or in some cases, none), but Thursday's session featured four players who likely project to play the power forward position in the pros: Kentucky's Trey Lyles, LSU's Jordan Mickey, Wyoming's Larry Nance, Jr., and Arkansas' Bobby Portis.

PHOTO GALLERY: Thursday's Pre-Draft Workout »

The presence of those four players created a competitive dynamic for Thursday's workout, which also featured Ohio State point guard Shannon Scott and D-League guard Jarvis Threatt. Once again, Pacers head coach Frank Vogel and his coaching staff led the proceedings, which concluded with three-on-three work.

The SEC isn't known as a traditional power in basketball, but each of the three biggest names in town on Thursday (Lyles, Mickey, and Portis) hail from that conference. Draft experts list Lyles and Portis as consensus first-round picks with a good chance of going in the lottery, while Mickey is seen as a late first or early second-rounder.

Each of the three players embraced the opportunity to battle against their conference rivals. Portis and Lyles were matched up on each other during the portion of three-on-three work open to the media, and each player drilled a contested jumper over his opponent. Mickey got in on the action, too, rotating over from Nance to block Portis at the rim on one occasion.

"It's always a joy," Mickey said about being reunited with Lyles and Portis. "Those are very competitive guys. They hate to lose, so it was fun going against them."

Added Lyles: "It pushes me to go out there and compete and try to get the better of my opponent. (Portis) is a good competitor and we went out there and worked hard today."

It's easy to forget given how Lyles' Kentucky squad dominated league play, but Bobby Portis was actually the SEC Player of the Year for the 2014-15 season, when he averaged 17.5 points and 8.9 rebounds per game for the Razorbacks as a sophomore.

Measuring out at 6-11 with a 7-2 wingspan, Portis is a plus-level athlete with a versatile offensive game. Due to Arkansas' system, he didn't post up a ton in college, but is confident that he has a good enough post game to score at the next level.

"We played a five-out pass-and-cut kind of offense, so that's the kind of knock on me right now," Portis said. "But I'm trying to show people that I can post up."

Portis is also an above-average shooter for a big man, despite an unorthodox high release. He hit on a high percentage of his shots from the mid-range and even knocked down 46.7 percent of his shots from beyond the 3-point arc, albeit on just 30 attempts. He said after Thursday's workout that he feels pretty comfortable with the corner 3-point shot, but is still adjusting to the longer arc in the NBA.

Portis' best attribute, however, is his high motor. The Little Rock native played with exceptional energy in college and dominated the offensive glass. If he can bring that same intensity at the next level, Portis could be an immediate asset off the bench for the team that drafts him.

He is also an entertaining interview. When I asked him whether it was fair to say he "played angry" in college, Portis' response was incredible.

"I try to get mad before every game," Portis said. "I try to envision someone hitting my mom. That's what makes me mad. Even before practice, I try to do that so I can go out and be aggressive."

While Portis took home conference Player of the Year honors, Jordan Mickey got plenty of accolades himself, being named to the First Team All-SEC and SEC All-Defensive Team. As a sophomore at LSU, Mickey averaged 15.4 points per game, led the conference in rebounding (9.9 per contest), and led the nation in blocked shots (3.6 per game).

Mickey's defensive expertise figures to be the thing most likely to translate to the next level. Though he only measured out at a little over 6-8 at the NBA Draft Combine, Mickey has a 7-3 wingspan that allowed him to swat 219 shots in just two years in college.

"(It's) just a lot to do with timing and not fouling," Mickey said of his shot-blocking prowess. "You've got to learn where to put your hands at, and try not to give the refs an out."

Offensively, Mickey's game is still a little raw. Though he maintained on Thursday that he's a capable jump shooter, Mickey didn't take a ton of jumpers at LSU. His smaller frame also figures to hurt his ability to score in the post in the pros.

He didn't do much offensively in the latter portions of Thursday's workout, but Mickey's block on Portis drew audible gasps from some of the media in attendance. That's a skill set that should definitely translate to the NBA. Mickey's elite defensive skills and athleticism could be enough for a team to take a chance on him in the late first round.

"I'm getting real excited and antsy," Mickey said about Draft Night, which is two weeks away. "I can't wait for the day."

Trey Lyles is also already starting to anticipate hearing his name called.

"I'm going to be all over the place," Lyles said. "Being a kid that's wanted to play in the NBA my whole life, to be drafted and being a kid that watched the draft at home, and to actually do (hear my name called) is going to be crazy for me."

Pacers.com's Mark Montieth focused on what it was like for the 2014 Indiana Mr. Basketball to workout for his hometown team, but the most interesting part of Lyles' development as a prospect is the role he played for a loaded Kentucky team.

Though he's a natural power forward, Lyles was asked to play primarily at the small forward position for the Wildcats, allowing likely lottery picks Willie Cauley-Stein and Karl-Anthony Towns to man the post. In many ways, that might have been a huge blessing for Lyles, allowing him to hone his skills on the perimeter and guard smaller players.

Still, playing for such a stacked roster also forced Lyles to make some individual sacrifices. His stat line (8.7 points and 5.2 rebounds per game) isn't eye-popping, but Lyles is confident that he can bring a lot to an NBA team from day one.

"Being able to make plays for myself and my teammates, post-up game stuff like that, just different things that the team didn't need from me because we had it all in areas that we needed, now being on another level I'll be able to showcase that stuff," Lyles said.

Despite NBA Pedigree, Nance, Jr. Has Something to Prove

Larry Nance, Jr. comes from basketball royalty. His father was a three-time All-Star who spent 13 years with the Suns and Cavaliers and defeated Dr. J in the 1984 NBA Slam Dunk Contest.

Larry, Jr. possesses similar athleticism to his father, but he wasn't a blue-chip recruit coming out of high school. According to Rivals.com, Nance had seven scholarship offers, but they were from four MAC schools, Milwaukee, Western Carolina, and Wyoming, where he eventually committed.

Nance enjoyed a stellar four-year career in Laramie, where he had a double-digit scoring average in each of his final three years on campus. He averaged 16.1 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks per game as a senior, a stat line good enough to earn a selection to the First Team All-Mountain West and conference co-Defensive Player of the Year honors. More importantly, Nance helped the Cowboys advance to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2000-01.

Despite his accomplishments, Nance, Jr. still feels like he's got a lot to prove in these workouts. Being from a mid-major college, he plays with an extra chip on his shoulder, eager to show that his athleticism translates even against the best of the best.

And his dad is in his corner every step of the way.

"He actually came up to Indy last night and hung out with me a little bit," Nance, Jr. said. "(He) just kind of said, 'Be yourself...you're all energy, great athlete, teams love to see that.' So as long as I can show that, he's happy."

High-Flying Threatt Used to Professional Game

Jarvis Threatt is trying to follow a path that's becoming more and more common to the NBA. Threatt spent the last season in the NBA Development League after getting dismissed from the University of Delaware. In recent years, players like Glen Rice, Jr. and P.J. Hairston have spent a season in the D-League before entering the NBA Draft.

Threatt, a 6-2 guard, believes that his experience in the D-League better prepared him for the next level.

"After playing in the D-League this year, I've gained so much respect for it," Threatt said. "Playing against pros, the talent level... it's completely different from college, as far as the system and the gameplay. So I definitely feel like I have a leg up."

Playing for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, Threatt averaged 12.9 points and 5.5 assists per game this past season. The Vipers, affiliates of the Houston Rockets, play at a blistering pace, averaging 123.3 points per game last season.

An explosive athlete with a 43-inch vertical, Threatt won the D-League Slam Dunk Contest last season. Playing at a faster pace (a style the Pacers brass has said they hope to adopt next season) seems to suit him very well.

"I'm an up-tempo guy," Threatt said. "Even in college we played up and down the floor, just having this year at Rio Grande we really pushed the tempo as far as being in shape and being in condition. That's what I love to do, get up and down the court."

Scott Hoping to Follow Matta's Pipeline to the Pros

Ohio State head coach Thad Matta has coached a slew of future NBA players. David West starred for Matta at Xavier, and since Matta has moved to Columbus, he's pumped out several lottery picks, from Greg Oden and Mike Conley to Evan Turner to Jared Sullinger.

Shannon Scott isn't projected to be a lottery pick. There's a good chance he doesn't hear his name called at all on draft night. But as a four-year player under Matta, Scott earned his coach's respect and improved each and every season.

"Give it your all and find a way to get on the court and stick with it, really," Scott said when asked the biggest lesson he learned in college. "Coaches want to see that. If you do that for them, they'll take care of you."

As a senior, Scott averaged 8.5 points, 5.9 assists, and 1.7 steals per game. A pesky defender, Scott amassed 211 steals in his career, the second-highest total in school history.

Scott has the skill set to be a solid distributor and defender as a professional. The biggest question mark regarding his game is his outside shooting. Scott was never a great shooter in college, converting just 27.9 percent of his attempts from 3-point range.

He said on Thursday that improving his shot has been his biggest focus over the past few months. Sure enough, he knocked down a couple jumpers in the short 3-on-3 session open to the media.

The Pacers own the 11th and 43rd overall selections in the 2015 NBA Draft, which will take place on June 25 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.


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