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NBA draft prospect profile: Arizona SF Rondae Hollis-Jefferson

06.12.15 at 10:33 am ET
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As part of’s coverage of the 2015 NBA draft, here is one in a series of profiles of prospective picks. The Celtics own two picks in each of the first two rounds (16, 28, 33 and 45 overall).


Position: Small forward

School: Arizona

Age: 20

Height: 6-foot-7

Weight: 220 pounds

Wingspan: 7-foot-1

Key 2014-15 stats: 11.2 points, 6.8 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1.2 steals, 0.8 blocks, 50.2 field goal percentage, 70.7 free throw percentage

Scouting report: Predicted to go in the later half of the first round, Hollis-Jefferson has an NBA-ready body that he’s worked at over the years in adding muscle, though he can still get bigger. He is an athletic wing and playmaker with a great wingspan, according to, and is quick, strong and a great leaper. With 43 dunks in 38 games, Hollis-Jefferson is considered acrobatic and is great at attacking the rim. He also gets to the free throw line often, leading the Pac-12 in attempts with 205 and sinking 145 of them for a 70.7 percent success rate. Defense and transition play are two of his most distinct strengths, as he is regarded as an elite defender while his length contributes to his abilities to gain the ball and break out. Hollis-Jefferson is said to play tough with much passion, showcasing his selflessness with a lot of energy and even putting his body on the line in some cases.

“The thing that stood out [when recruiting Hollis-Jefferson], and it still stands out now, he can dominate a game without scoring,” Arizona coach Sean Miller said. “When he’s around great players or other players that are talented, his value is even bigger because his style brings out the best in his teammates.”

What needs work for Hollis-Jefferson is the consistency of his jump shot and his shot from deep, since only 20.7 percent of his 3-point attempts went in, though he had just 29 tries on the year. CBS Sports notes that in a league that puts so much emphasis on spacing, Hollis-Jefferson’s lack of ability beyond the arc does not bode well for the future. He’ll have to spend significant time developing that skill going forward with whatever team that picks him up.

Notes: Hollis-Jefferson, who worked out for the Celtics on June 1, led Arizona in rebounds and blocks this past season as a sophomore, ranking third in points and steals as well. He registered a team-best four double-doubles, adding onto the two he collected his freshman year for six total. This past season Hollis-Jefferson led the Wildcats in blocks 15 times, rebounds 14 times and points seven times, hitting double digits in 27 of 38 games. In eight career NCAA Tournament games, the 20-year-old averaged 14 points, 6.1 rebounds, 1.1 blocks, a 54.7 field goal percentage and an 82.4 free throw percentage. He was selected to the All-Pac-12 first team as well as the Pac-12 All-Defensive Team. As a freshman, Hollis-Jefferson earned Pac-12 All-Freshman Team honors, having posted 9.1 points, 5.7 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game.

The small forward went by Rondae Jefferson until going to Arizona and decided to tack Hollis on as a way to recognize the sacrifices his mother, Rylanda Hollis, made to raise him and his brother, Rahlir, who also added Hollis to his name. Rylanda had two jobs while her sons were in elementary and middle school, as she would wake up at 6 a.m. and go to work as a dietary supervisor until coming home in the afternoon before bartending from 6 p.m. until 2 a.m.

Hollis-Jefferson has a unique free throw ritual, shimmying before each attempt. In the first round of the NCAA Tournament, TNT jokingly credited him with a triple-double because he was in double digits for points, rebounds and shimmies.

Related articles:

Fox Sports Arizona: Arizona’s Hollis-Jefferson focuses on what he does best: Defend

Sporting News: Rondae Hollis-Jefferson’s love for family key to his success at Arizona Rondae Hollis-Jefferson’s game is no act

Sports Illustrated: Rondae Hollis-Jefferson looks to polish game with consistent jumper

Read More: 2015 NBA draft, 2015 Potential Celtics, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson,

NBA draft prospect profile: Arkansas PF Bobby Portis

06.11.15 at 12:05 pm ET
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As part of’s coverage of the 2015 NBA draft, here is one in a series of profiles of prospective picks. The Celtics own two picks in each of the first two rounds (16, 28, 33 and 45 overall).


Position: Power forward

School: Arkansas

Age: 20

Height: 6-foot-11

Weight: 242 pounds

Wingspan: 7-foot-2

Key 2014-15 stats: 17.5 points, 8.9 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 1.4 blocks, 53.6 field goal percentage, 46.7 3-point field goal percentage

Scouting report: Portis has great size and length for a power forward at the NBA level and is very hard for opponents to guard when going toward the basket. He plays well defensively because he’s active and versatile, allowing him to nab a plethora of deflections and steals. Portis’ rebounding is phenomenal, as his 3.7 offensive rebounds per game ranked first in the SEC, his 5.2 defensive rebounds ranked fifth and his 8.9 overall rebounds was good for fourth. His strength helps him finish through contact, and he can score in the post as well as generate offense as a high-post passer. Portis also fares well in blocking shots and shot a respectable 46.7 percent from beyond the arc this season.

“Bobby has a hunger,” Arkansas coach Mike Anderson told ESPN. “Bobby won’t back down from anybody. He has a motor that no one else has. He doesn’t get caught up in the hype. He wants to be good, not only for himself, but for everybody in his family.”

Still, Portis lacks some of the athleticism and explosiveness needed to truly succeed at the next level, according to His post moves work to an extent, but they’re still not great and he should keep improving his post game so that his jumper doesn’t get overused. In addition, though his defense is solid in space and around the perimeter, when he’s in close by the post, he could afford to get better at defending. Portis also might need to work on his footwork in the paint and could even get bigger and stronger yet.

Portis is projected to go as a late lottery pick or fall somewhere in the later teens of the first round. Some mock drafts have him going to the Celtics at No. 16. He participated in a Celtics pre-draft workout on May 28.

Notes: Portis was named SEC Player of the Year, which made him the program’s first in 20 seasons and second in team history. He also was selected to the AP All-America second team and the USBWA All-America second team as he shepherded the Razorbacks to their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2008. With a conference-best nine double-doubles in league play, Portis garnered the first five-game streak in program history and registered double-doubles or at least 20 points against 12 of the 13 SEC teams during the regular season. His cumulative 1,000 points in two years of play make him just the third sophomore in school history to hit that mark, and he is the first Arkansas player with 1,000 points and 500 rebounds as a sophomore. The big man also ranked top five in the SEC in scoring (17.5 points, 2nd), rebounding (8.9, 4th), offensive rebounding (3.7, 1st), defensive rebounding (5.2, fifth) and field goal percentage (53.6 percent, 2nd).

Portis, who grew up in Little Rock and wanted to play for Arkansas all his life, had a tough childhood and adolescence and saw his mother in an abusive relationship. Because of that, the 20-year-old said he plays angry and visualizes his opponents slapping his mother, using the memory of his past to get himself going before games.

Related articles:

ESPN: Basketball can change Bobby Portis’ life

SB Nation: Learn about Bobby Portis before other NBA Draft fans catch on

SB Nation: The revival of Arkansas basketball starts with Bobby Portis

Read More: 2015 NBA draft, 2015 Potential Celtics, Bobby Portis,

NBA draft prospect profile: Arizona PF Brandon Ashley

06.11.15 at 9:53 am ET
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As part of’s coverage of the 2015 NBA draft, here is one in a series of profiles of prospective picks. The Celtics own two picks in each of the first two rounds (16, 28, 33 and 45 overall).


Position: Power forward

School: Arizona

Age: 20 (turns 21 on July 15)

Height: 6-foot-9

Weight: 230

Wingspan: 7-foot-3

Key 2014-15 stats: 12.2 points, 5.2 rebounds, 0.7 assists, 51.4 field goal percentage

Scouting report: Scouts have mixed feelings on Ashley’s future in the NBA, as some have him going in the second round while others have him being passed over altogether. However, the general consensus is that he will be selected in the mid-to-late second round. His strengths include his wingspan, athleticism, face-up skills and frequent trips to the free throw line, where he shoots 70 percent.

“When he’s active, running the floor and on the glass, he’s the best player that he is,” Arizona coach Sean Miller told Fox Sports. “That’s the best version of him, and our team is better as well.”

What Ashley needs to work on more is being consistent on defense and getting stronger. His size doesn’t necessarily lend itself to the power forward role as a professional, so he needs to hone in on his skill set as well. Ashley could also spend some time working on his 3-point shot, as he sank about one third of his attempts this past season.

Notes: Ashley, whose sophomore season was cut short after he tore a ligament in his right foot on Feb. 1, 2014, was an All-Pac-12 honorable mention after his 2014-15 campaign. He finished second on the team in scoring and blocked shots while coming in third in rebounds. Of the 38 games he played as a junior, Ashley tallied double-digit points 28 times and was named Most Outstanding Player in the Pac-12 tournament, which he helped guide Arizona to winning for the first time since 2002. During the tourney, he averaged 19.7 points and shot 73 percent from the field, recording 24 points in the semifinals against UCLA and then 20 opposite Oregon in the title game.

Related articles:

ESPN: Brandon Ashley is over the hurt

College Basketball Talk: Brandon Ashley’s versatility once again a key factor for No. 3 Arizona

Fox Sports: Arizona’s Ashley looks to finish ‘up-and-down’ season on high note

Read More: 2015 NBA draft, 2015 Potential Celtics, Brandon Ashley,

Darrun Hilliard shows Celtics he has ‘right attitude’ in pre-draft workouts

06.11.15 at 8:55 am ET
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Darrun HIlliard was the star player leading Villanova to a 33-3 record and a No. 1 seed in the NCAA playoffs. (Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

Darrun HIlliard was the star player leading Villanova to a 33-3 record and a No. 1 seed in the NCAA playoffs. (Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

WALTHAM — The NBA pre-draft workouts are probably the best medicine for Darrun Hilliard.

The star shooting guard from Villanova visited the Celtics Wednesday for his 10th NBA pre-draft workout. He still has a bitter taste in his mouth from the way his season, and brilliant college career, ended in the NCAA tournament.

The Wildcats finished the regular season and their conference tournament with a flourish never before seen in the rich history of Villanova basketball. They won 16 straight games, won the Big East tournament for the second time. They blew out Lafayette by 41 points in their first NCAA game. They were 33-2 and one of the very hottest teams in college basketball, ranked No. 2 in AP behind only undefeated Kentucky.

Everything seemed to be lining up perfectly for Hilliard and the No. 1 seeded Wildcats to make a deep run. Then it all came to a crashing halt against North Carolina State, losing in stunning fashion, 71-68. The dreams of a national title or even a run to the Final Four ended before the Sweet 16.

“It’s kind of sucks that loss overshadowed what we did in the regular season, going 33-3 is a pretty good record for anybody,” Hilliard told Wednesday. “It was a great run. Unfortunately, we lost but it was a great run. We got better every year we were there. I will miss playing with those guys forever. It was a great run and I definitely enjoyed it.”

“When we first lost, I thought about it every day, every single day, every single second. I put a lot on myself. I should’ve had 30 points. But that’s how it went. It just wasn’t our night that night. N.C. State was the better team that night. It happens in the game of basketball.”

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Darrun Hilliard, Jay Wright, Kyle Lowry

NBA draft prospect profile: Guangdong Southern Tigers PG Emmanuel Mudiay

06.10.15 at 9:40 pm ET
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As part of’s coverage of the 2015 NBA draft, here is one in a series of profiles of prospective picks. The Celtics own two picks in each of the two rounds (16, 28, 33 and 45 overall).


Position: Point guard

Team: Guangdong Southern Tigers (China)

Age: 19

Height: 6-foot-5

Weight: 200 pounds

Wingspan: 6-foot-8.5

Key 2014-15 stats: 12 games, 18.0 points, 6.3 rebounds, 5.9 assists, .342 3-point percentage

Scouting report: What Mudiay lacks in polish, he makes up for in raw athleticism. The 6-foot-5 point guard has one of the best first steps in the draft, and his speed and jumping ability make him nearly impossible to stop in the open court, similarly to John Wall. He’s very unselfish with the ball, but scouts note that he has a tendency to over-dribble and make poor decisions in the lane. He’s a high-motor player who dives for loose balls and gives his best effort at the defensive end of the floor. He certainly leaves much to be desired with his outside shooting as he struggles from beyond the arc and often settles for mid-range jumpers.

The top-five projected pick has stated his desire to partake in a team’s winning culture. On the possibility of going to the Lakers at No. 2, Mudiay said, “I would love to be a part of something like this. I just want to win and get as many championships as I can. That’€™s the main thing.” While his efficiency will always be his biggest question mark, Mudiay appears to have the raw skill and athleticism needed to become a franchise-caliber player in the NBA.

Notes: While he was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo (called Zaire at the time), Mudiay moved to the United States at the age of 5 and became a prep star in Texas, earning a spot in the McDonald’s All-American Game in 2014. He committed to play for Larry Brown and SMU for the 2014-15 season, but instead chose to play in China for the Guangdong Southern Tigers (reports emerged that he had some eligibility issues). Though he missed much of the season due to an ankle injury, Mudiay returned in the playoffs and scored 24 points, snagged eight rebounds and dished out five assists off the bench in his first game back for a 110-99 Guangdong win.

Related articles:

Business Insider: 19-year-old prospect who skipped college to play in China is the biggest mystery of the NBA draft

Sporting News: Emmanuel Mudiay: The NBA draft’s mystery man is a top-6 pick Emmanuel Mudiay: Why the potential No. 1 pick is riding the bench in China

Read More: 2015 NBA draft, 2015 Potential Celtics, Emmanuel Mudiay,

An absolute mockery of a 2015 NBA mock draft v2.0

06.10.15 at 3:59 pm ET
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I’€™m not sure whether mock drafts got their name from the false premise that anyone could accurately mock what the front offices of all 30 NBA franchises will do come June 25 or the reality that everyone who projects to know such matters ultimately makes a mockery of themselves. It’€™s probably a hybrid of the two, but they sure are fun, so without further ado Green Street presents the second of four mock drafts leading up to the real thing in Chicago later this month.

For the first edition, check out: An absolute mockery of the 2015 NBA draft v1.0.

Keep in mind Celtics president Danny Ainge owns two first-round picks in this year’€™s draft — his own No. 16 selection and the Clippers’€™ No. 28 pick he received in exchange for letting Doc Rivers out of his contract — and predicting whether The Wolf of Causeway Street will stand pat, trade up or swap out of the draft is like guessing which ridiculous name Ron Artest will use next. Impossible.

1. Minnesota Timberwolves: Karl Towns (Last week: Karl Towns)

  • Position: Center/power forward
  • School: Kentucky
  • Birthday: Nov. 15, 1995 (19 years old)
  • Height: 7 feet
  • Weight: 248 pounds
  • Wingspan: 7-foot-3.5
  • 2014-15 stats (39 games): 10.3 points (62.7 true shooting percentage), 6.7 rebounds, 2.3 blocks and 1.1 assists in 21.1 minutes per game (31.4 player efficiency rating)
  • Fascinating fact: Towns studied kinesiology and wants to be a doctor after his hoop career.

2. Los Angeles Lakers: Jahlil Okafor (Last week: Jahlil Okafor)

  • Position: Center
  • School: Duke
  • Birthday: Dec. 15, 1995 (19 years old)
  • Height: 6-foot-11
  • Weight: 270 pounds
  • Wingspan: 7-foot-5
  • 2014-15 stats (38 games): 17.3 points (64.1 true shooting percentage), 8.5 rebounds, 1.9 blocks, 1.7 assists and 1.0 steals in 30.1 per game (30.7 player efficiency rating)
  • Fascinating fact: Okafor plays the tuba.

3. Philadelphia 76ers: Emmanuel Mudiay (Last week: Justise Winslow)

  • Position: Point guard
  • Country: Congo
  • Team: Guangdong (China) Southern Tigers
  • Birthday: March 5, 1996 (19 years old)
  • Height: 6-foot-5
  • Weight: 200 pounds
  • Wingspan: 6-foot-8.5
  • 2014-15 stats (12 games): 18.0 points (52.8 true shooting percentage), 6.3 rebounds, 5.9 assists and 1.6 steals in 31.5 minutes per game (18.9 player efficiency rating)
  • Fascinating fact: Mudiay fled his home country as a child during the Second Congo War.

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: 2015 NBA draft, Boston Celtics, Christian Wood, Sam Dekker

Pat Connaughton ready to prove himself ready for NBA: ‘I think I look pretty good in green’

06.10.15 at 3:32 pm ET
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WALTHAM — Pat Connaughton didn’t lack confidence when he was setting school records at St. John’s Prep in Danvers, and he didn’t lose that swagger while leading the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame to within a breath of the Final Four this spring.

The Arlington resident always has had a swagger about him, and a wicked good sense of sarcasm and wit for a 22-year-old.

Maybe it’s the fact that he is a legit two-sport pro prospect. As a sharpshooter, he was a key part of Notre Dame‘s ACC basketball title this spring. He also can throw a baseball consistently in the mid-90s, which made him an MLB prospect, drafted by the Orioles last year in the fourth round while making his professional baseball debut with the Aberdeen IronBirds of the Class A-Short Season New York-Penn League. His fastball was clocked at 96 mph.

“The way the baseball draft works is if you don’t sign someone you draft in the first 10 rounds, you lose that slot money. I was very clear before the baseball draft that I wanted to go back to school to play basketball,” Connaughton said. “So, whoever drafted me had to know I was going to do that. I think both the Orioles and myself weren’t sure how far basketball would go. I think they were hoping it would end after college. I was just playing it every single day like I normally do and taking it day-by-day because that’s the only thing you can do with two sports. I found myself here and excited to pursue the opportunity.

“I had a great time in Aberdeen. I thought that down the road, whether it’s after a 10-year NBA career or a two-year NBA career, when I put my mind to baseball I can succeed at it. But I wasn’t ready to give up one of the sports. I’ve been harping my whole life that you can do two sports at the highest level, to kind of be a role model for those kids that are pressured into choosing one. It would be kind of hypocritical of me to just be like, ‘By the way, there’s some money in baseball. I think I’ll go do that.’ ”

At the end of July 2014, he informed the Orioles that he was indeed going to leave the IronBirds to return to the Fighting Irish basketball team.

On Wednesday, after working out for the Celtics, he explained why his priority now is focused on the NBA, not MLB.

“For me, I try to take it like I may not get drafted,” Connaughton said after his workout. “I try to work as hard as I can every single day. It’s been such a whirlwind over the last few months. I hope to be drafted. I’m working as hard as I can. I have some confidence in myself that I have a chance to, but we’ll see what happens on June 25. Read the rest of this entry »

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