Draft Workouts: Frank Kaminsky

June 14, 2015 - Wisconsin forward Frank Kaminsky talks to Pacers.com after a pre-draft workout with the Pacers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

Workouts 150614

Scroll Video up Scroll Video down Scroll Video left Scroll Video right

Draft Workouts: Frank Kaminsky

June 14, 2015 - Wisconsin forward Frank Kaminsky talks to Pacers.com after a pre-draft workout with the Pacers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Jun 14, 2015  |  01:47

Draft Workouts: Myles Turner

June 14, 2015 - Texas forward Myles Turner talks to Pacers.com after a pre-draft workout with the Pacers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Jun 14, 2015  |  02:06

Draft Workouts: T.J. McConnell

June 14, 2015 - Arizona guard T.J. McConnell talks with Pacers.com after a pre-draft workout with the Pacers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Jun 14, 2015  |  01:46

Draft Workouts: Darrun Hilliard

June 14, 2015 - Villanova guard Darrun Hilliard talks to Pacers.com after a pre-draft workout with the Pacers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Jun 14, 2015  |  01:59

Draft Workouts: Corey Hawkins

June 14, 2015 - UC Davis guard Corey Hawkins talks to Pacers.com after a pre-draft workout with the Pacers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Jun 14, 2015  |  02:06

Draft Workouts: D.J. Newbill

June 14, 2015 - Penn State guard D.J. Newbill talks to Pacers.com after a pre-draft workout with the Pacers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Jun 14, 2015  |  01:19

Weekend Workout Brings in Two Marquee Bigs, Scoring Guards

by Wheat Hotchkiss
Pacers.com Writer/Editor
@Wheat_Hotchkiss

The Pacers held their sixth pre-draft workout on Sunday morning, concluding with a spirited three-on-three session. Four talented guards (UC-Davis' Corey Hawkins, Villanova's Darrun Hilliard, Arizona's T.J. McConnell, and Penn State's D.J. Newbill) were in town, but the headliners on Sunday were the two big men, 7-footer Frank Kaminsky and 6-11 Myles Turner.

PHOTO GALLERY: Sunday's Pre-Draft Workout »

In many ways, Kaminsky and Turner couldn't be more different.

Kaminsky was a three-star recruit out of high school, choosing Wisconsin over schools like Bradley and Northern Illinois. He played sparingly in his early days in Madison, but gradually evolved into one of the best players in all of college basketball, taking home consensus National Player of the Year honors as a senior. Kaminsky's game is extremely polished, but there are questions about how much better he can get.

Turner, meanwhile, was a blue-chip recruit and a McDonald's All-American before committing to Texas, where he had an up-and-down freshman season. The 19-year-old decided to turn pro after just one season in college. Though his overall game has plenty of room to grow, Turner possesses all the measurables that make NBA scouts drool.

RELATED: Turner, Kaminsky Sized Up by Pacers »

But despite all their differences, Kaminsky and Turner have strikingly similar skill sets. Both are athletic big men who move surprisingly well for players of their height. Each is comfortable shooting the ball from beyond the 3-point arc, a trait that could make either player an ideal fit as a stretch big man in the Pacers promised faster-pace offense.

The Pacers front office no doubt relished the chance to see the two projected lottery picks go head-to-head on Sunday and both players also enjoyed the challenge of battling on the interior with another likely lottery pick. It was just Turner's second workout with an NBA team (he was in Utah on Saturday) and his first time matching up with Kaminsky, who he called "very deserving" of all his collegiate accolades.

"Obviously, he’s a good test of where I am right now," Kaminsky said of his opposition. "He’s a very good player. It went well. We were both going at each other today and that’s what you want, you want to compete against good players."

Kaminsky is aware of the notion that he doesn't have the "upside" of a younger player like Turner, but he scoffs at the notion that he doesn't have room to grow. He went from averaging 1.8 points per game as a freshman at Wisconsin to 18.8 as a senior. If he can grow into a bigger role in college, why can't the same thing happen in the pros?

"I might not have as high a ceiling as some people, but I think my floor’s a lot higher than theirs," Kaminsky said. "That’s the way I approach it, and that’s the way I’m going to continue. I’m going to try to be as good as I can and I’m going to continue to work as hard as I can for as long as I can."

Kaminsky possesses probably the most polished offensive game of any post player in this year's draft class. Not only did he shoot 41 percent from 3-point range as a senior, he is comfortable handling the ball or posting up on the block. So Kaminsky's biggest focus in pre-draft workouts is on the defensive end.

Having grown up in the Chicago suburb of Lisle, Ill., Kaminsky said he'd be comfortable living in Indiana, with his family just a few hours drive away. But even more importantly, he thinks the Pacers are a good fit for his skillset.

"With the way the workout went and how they utilize big players, I think I’d fit into that system," Kaminsky said.

"They’re just looking for some offensive versatility and I think I bring that to the table. Just my ability to shoot the ball from the outside, put the ball on the floor, and post up, I think that could help."

Turner also believes that he could fit in well with the Blue & Gold.

"That’s one thing that I feel I’m comfortable with, getting up and down the floor (and) moving," Turner said. "They want to play a little bit smaller and I feel comfortable playing the 5, the 4, whatever’s asked of me."

With a 7-4 wingspan, Turner has the tools to develop into an elite shot-blocker at the next level. He averaged 2.6 rejections per game in his one college season.

But Turner's most intriguing attribute might be his ability to stretch the floor. Turner has a remarkably smooth and quick release for a player of his size and he flashed it shortly after the media was allowed into Sunday's workout, swishing a 3-pointer from the top of the key. He shot a pedestrian 27.4 percent from long range in college, but his 84-percent average from the free throw line suggests that he is a better shooter than his 3-point percentage suggests.

While his shooting may be his most coveted attribute, Turner is also anxious to show teams that he can score in the post. He wasn't asked to do that much in college, as Texas utilized him a lot on the perimeter in their offensive system.

"That’s where my money’s going to be made at the next level," Turner said. "I know that for a fact. I’m comfortable down on the block. It’s something that I’ve shown more."

Whether it's the Pacers or another team, there's a good chance that both Kaminsky and Turner hear their names called early on Draft Night, less than two weeks away. Both player admitted to being anxious for that night to come. Turner said he will undoubtedly experience "a whirlwind of emotions," while Kaminsky said he's especially eager to find out where he'll be playing.

"I’m looking forward to having a new home," Kaminsky said.

Two-Way Point Guard McConnell Hoping to Stick in Pros

T.J. McConnell is no stranger to the spotlight. He played a starring role for Arizona teams that reached the Elite Eight in both 2014 and 2015. McConnell was a finalist for the Cousy Award, handed out annually to the best point guard in college basketball, as both a junior and senior.

Still, McConnell admitted to being a little starstruck playing in front of Pacers President Larry Bird.

You wouldn't have known it by watching him play. The 6-2 guard dished out a number of impressive passes during the three-on-three session.

"I’m just trying to show my all-around game," McConnell said after the workout. "I’m trying to show I can stretch out and shoot the ball when I’m left open and just do what I do. I play hard on defense and get people the ball."

As a senior, McConnell averaged 10.4 points, 6.3 assists, and 2.2 steals per game. He seems to have all the tools to be a capable backup point guard in the NBA, but he knows that his biggest challenges will come on the defensive end simply due to his smaller stature.

"It’s night and day different," McConnell said about the differences in playing defense in the pros as opposed to college. "You’re guarding guys that are All-Stars and have played in the league for over 10 years. They’re quicker, they’re stronger, so you’ve got to get quicker and stronger yourself to be able to be an elite defender at this level."

Hilliard Returns to Scene of the Crime

Darrun Hilliard is a name all-too-familiar to Butler fans.

Perhaps the finest moment in his college career came at the expense of the Bulldogs. On Valentine's Day 2015, Hilliard broke a lot of hearts at Hinkle Fieldhouse, hitting a game-winning 3-pointer with 1.2 seconds left to lift Villanova to an overtime win at Butler. That shot was the culmination of a career night for the 6-5 guard, who hit eight 3-pointers and scored 31 points in the victory.

"I hope that people have forgiven me," Hilliard joked on Sunday. "It wasn’t nothing personal. Last time I came back here after that game (for the college 3-point contest at Final Four weekend), they booed me a little bit."

Named a second-team All-American by the Sporting News, Hilliard was the best player on a loaded Villanova team that went 33-3 on the year and earned a number one seed in the NCAA Tournament. The Bethlehem, Penn. resident averaged 14.3 points per game and shot 38.7 percent from beyond the 3-point arc as a senior for the Wildcats.

Now, he's eager to show NBA scouts that he has the all-around tools to make an impact at the next level. Hilliard noted that he felt like he made great strides from his junior to senior seasons, and he feels like he has made another leap during the pre-draft process.

"I’m shooting the ball pretty well, defending pretty well," Hilliard said. "And I can handle the ball more so than people think. I think my physical attributes are a plus, too...I can defend multiple positions."

Sharpshooter Hawkins Hoping to Follow in Father's Footsteps

Corey Hawkins was very familiar with at least one person at Sunday's workout.

Pacers associate head coach Nate McMillan was teammates with Hawkins' father, Hersey, with the Seattle SuperSonics from 1995-98. The elder Hawkins began working with the Portland Trail Blazers front office in 2009, where McMillan was stationed as head coach at the time.

Corey Hawkins even spent his first college season at Arizona State, while Jamelle McMillan, Nate's son, was a senior on that same Sun Devils squad.

"It’s always nice to see a familiar face," Corey Hawkins said about being reunited with McMillan. "It makes it more comfortable, a little bit more relaxed. He gave me good advice throughout the workout."

Like his father, Hawkins is known for his shooting. He led the nation in 3-point percentage as a senior at UC-Davis (he spent his final three college seasons with the Aggies after transferring from Arizona State), connecting on 48.8 percent of his shots from long distance.

An all-around scorer, Hawkins scored 1,694 points in three seasons at UC Davis, averaging 20.9 points per contest as a senior. Corey and Hersey Hawkins have now combined for the second-most points by a father-son duo in NCAA history, trailing only Dell and Stephen Curry.

Still, the younger Hawkins feels like he is less of a known commodity since he played the majority of his college career at a mid-major school. But instead of coming with a chip on his shoulder, Hawkins tries to use his lack of exposure to his advantage during the pre-draft process.

"For me, it’s relaxed," Hawkins said. "I really have no high expectations to uphold, other than shooting. So I come in just looking to dominate every where I go because people probably don’t know much about Corey Hawkins, so I try to give them a reason to."

Newbill, Big Ten's Leading Scorer, Ready for NBA

With apologies to Hilliard and Hawkins, D.J. Newbill may have been the most accomplished scorer at Sunday's workout.

The 6-2 guard amassed 1,812 points in three seasons at Penn State (he spent his freshman year at Southern Miss before transferring to State College). As a senior, he averaged 20.7 points per game for the Nittany Lions, the best scoring average in the Big Ten.

Newbill feels that playing in such a strong conference has better prepared him for the challenges of pre-draft workouts. The biggest challenge for him will be proving that he can handle the ball. At 6-2, he's probably too small to play off the ball full-time in the NBA. He wasn't a pure point guard in college, but he did handle the ball quite a bit, dishing out 3.1 assists as a senior (but also racking up 2.7 turnovers per contest).

Newbill said some scouts have also voiced concern in his "funky release" on his shot, but he said he's made no mechanical adjustments (he shot 37 percent from 3-point range this past season).

Despite the critiques of his game, Newbill has relished the pre-draft process.

"I get to compete against some of the best players in the country and go out here and chase my dream," Newbill said.

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.

Related Content

NEXT UP:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter