Draft Express--Josh Boone, Mustafa Shakur Flop in Private Workout
Representatives from 17 different NBA teams were in attendance on Thursday to watch a series of hour-long workouts at the University of Illinois-Chicago. Most of the buzz coming out was, as usual with NBA types, of the negative variety, although there were a number of positives to take away.
The first workout pitted George Washington Senior Mike Hall against Maryland’s Nik Caner-Medley, along with two other anonymous players. The feedback coming here was mixed, with some saying that Hall’s shot looked impressive, Caner-Medley showed good toughness, and for the most part it came out a draw. Next was Justin Williams of Wyoming against James Augustine of Illinois, along with Michigan State’s Shannon Brown vs. Arizona’s Mustafa Shakur. The big men Williams and Augustine were surprisingly asked to attempt a good number of NBA 3’s, which they shot--according to one source--like “Scud missiles.” Shannon Brown shot the ball extremely well in the drills, while Mustafa Shakur shocked and horrified the crowd with his incredibly awkward looking shooting mechanics.
The guards were put in a better situation to succeed as there was not that much emphasis put on post play, and Shannon Brown took full advantage to show the scouts in attendance just how impressive of a defender and athlete he is. The players were put through a one on one full-court drill where dummy defense is played until the player with the ball reached the half-court line. Brown did a great job here of getting right in Shakur’s grill and using his powerful body and quick feet to impose his will on him for every second the two were on the court. Shakur showed impressive ball-handling skills in fending him off, but not much else, and clearly had a tough time getting his shot off with his flawed shooting mechanics. On the other end, Brown was just too strong for Shakur to handle, and he either pushed him around for easy baskets or got by him for an impressive finish. Most people we spoke to came away saying that Brown was the best player in any of the workouts here, and the one that helped his stock the most. On the negative side, his ball-handling could still use some refinement and there was no way, according to one scout, to tell “whether he’s an undersized 2-guard or a combo guard.”
In terms of the bigs, it was tough to draw too many conclusions due to the nature of the workout. Impartial observers we spoke to who were in attendance thought that Justin Williams was put in a situation to fail due to the fact that the workout was “organized to favor Augustine,” as well as that he’s simply “not skilled enough” to excel in this type of setting. Williams blocked Augustine’s very first shot, but once Augustine adjusted and went to his go-to move, the spinning left-handed jump-hook, he had him beat on numerous occasions. Augustine played very hard throughout, was aggressive and did not back down, which is very important for him.
The next workout featuring Taquan Dean, Will Blalock, Marcellus Sommervile and Denham Brown was more drill oriented and therefore not quite as compelling. The guards Dean and Blalock beat up on each other excessively and for the most part neutralized each other. Amongst the swingmen, Denham Brown showed some skills, but did not stand out in terms of any one thing he did. Most people actually came away the most impressed with Marcellus Sommerville, who according to one scout “could not miss the entire workout.” His body appears to be in fantastic shape and he’s clearly a superior athlete. His ball-handling is still a question mark, but he may have earned himself either another look at the Orlando pre-draft camp or more private workouts with NBA teams.
The last workout was the most disappointing, as Josh Boone decided not to play competitively and instead held a slow and lethargic big man drill oriented showing pitting him against an unguarded rim. According to one observer, Boone “displayed everything he does poorly and should go back to school if the workout is any indication of his ability.” Another was not as kind: “he had a chance to show that he has a heartbeat with a dozen NBA teams in attendance, and failed miserably. No NBA team likes to watch a player shoot jump-hooks by himself in a gym, especially when we’re talking about a guy who may or may not be draftable. We’re not talking about Gerald Green here who can afford to do that.”