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NBA draft prospect profile: Duke PG Tyus Jones

06.14.15 at 10:32 am ET
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As part of WEEI.com’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).

TYUS JONES

Position: Point guard

School: Duke

Age: 19

Height: 6-foot-2

Weight: 184 pounds

Wingspan: 6-foot-5

Key 2014-15 stats: 11.8 points, 3.5 rebounds, 5.6 assists, 1.5 steals, 41.7 field goal percentage, 37.9 3-point field goal percentage, 88.9 free throw percentage, 2.86 assist-to-turnover ratio

Scouting report: Jones is slated to go in the late teens or early 20s of the first round when draft day arrives. His guard skills are regarded as excellent and he has a high basketball IQ, lauded for his playmaking ability. NBAdraft.net calls him a “point guard in the truest sense of the word with excellent court sense and feel for the game.” His success from deep is also encouraging, as is his proclivity to sink free throws. Jones is mature for being just 19 and does not make poor decisions on the court regularly by any means. Comfortable in leadership roles and able to tailor his play based on those around him, Jones looks to pass first and is capable of changing speeds to open up offensive opportunities. He played some of his best basketball in the biggest games of the season and is a very confident player.

“He’s going to get a lot better, but people have already seen him and know how he handles himself, especially in pressure situations and in the biggest games,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said after Jones announced his entry into the draft. “He comes through like a champion. I loved coaching him, and I believe he’ll be an outstanding professional.”

As an athlete, Jones does not leave zero doubts, as CBS Sports notes that his athleticism is “questionable on the highest level, but it hasn’t stopped him yet.” His size also hinders him a bit and he struggles back on defense some, being one of the smaller point guards at the NBA level. Adding some strength to his body will help him with that, but his height and wingspan don’t do him any favors.

Notes: Named the Final Four Most Outstanding Player, Jones also has All-ACC third team, All-ACC Freshman Team and USBWA All-District 3 accolades on the resume of his brief college career. He was named ACC Rookie of the Week four times over the course of the season and ranked second in the conference in free throw percentage (88.9) and assists (217) while coming in fourth in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.86). That ratio itself was also a Duke rookie record, and his total assists are third on the freshman list. Jones is the second freshman in program history to tally 400 points and 200 assists in a rookie season, and his free throw percentage rates third against other past and present Duke freshmen. During the Blue Devils‘ tournament run to the national title, Jones averaged 13 points per game, 4.5 assists, 1.7 steals, 3.2 rebounds and a 91.7 percent success rate at the line through six games.

Jones met teammate and fellow prospect Jahlil Okafor when the two were 8 years old and they reunited six years later when both were trying out for the USA Basketball junior team. They became closer while playing for the U.S. team in Europe and, in ninth grade, made a pact to both attend the same college to play basketball. They and their families went through the recruiting process together and both chose Duke, looking for a school that would give them the best chance of winning.

Related articles:

CBS Sports: Tyus Jones becomes Duke’s biggest player in its ultimate comeback win

New York Times: A Duke Title, Just as Tyus Jones and Fellow Freshmen Planned It Long Ago

ESPN: Tyus Jones learns from his brother

Read More: 2015 NBA draft, 2015 Potential Celtics, Tyus Jones,

NBA draft prospect profile: Bowling Green PF Richaun Holmes

06.13.15 at 11:18 am ET
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As part of WEEI.com’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).

RICHAUN HOLMES

Position: Power forward

School: Bowling Green

Age: 21

Height: 6-foot-10

Weight: 243 pounds

Wingspan: 7-foot-2

Key 2014-15 stats: 14.7 points, 8.0 rebounds, 2.7 blocks, 56.3 field goal percentage, 41.9 3-point

Scouting report: Holmes is an athletic power forward with the build and the tools to become a prominent two-way threat. He has great length with a 7-foot-2 wingspan and near-elite jumping ability with a 36-inch vertical leap. His measurables helped him block 2.7 shots a game last season, good enough to earn him Defensive Player of the Year honors in the Mid-American Conference. He is also a fantastic rebounder, grabbing defensive boards at a 20 percent rate.

While his shooting percentages likely won’t hold up in the NBA, Holmes is working on his face-up game and has drastically improved his outside shooting. Though the potential second-rounder has the athleticism necessary to blossom into an efficient scorer, he has not demonstrated good passing abilities.

Former Bowling Green coach Chris Jans sings Holmes’ praises as a high-energy athlete with a huge impact on the game. “Richaun is a great all-around player,” Jans told NBA.com. “That’s what I love the most about him. When a lot of guys make first-team All-MAC, it’s because of their scoring, but Richaun has developed into an all-around player. He scores inside, he knocks 3’s down, he puts it on the floor, he rebounds the ball at a high level and he’s the main reason we have been fairly successful on the defensive end.”

Notes: Holmes played his freshman season at a junior college and still set the Bowling Green record for career blocks in three years with 244. Holmes was the only player in Bowling Green history to accumulate 1,000 points, 600 boards and 200 blocks for his career. Holmes averaged 14.7 points, 6.3 rebounds and 3.7 blocks at the highly-competitive Portsmouth Invitational, earning him a trip to Chicago for the draft combine.

Related articles:

NBA.com: Overlooked at every level, Bowling Green’s Richaun Holmes can do it all

Sports Illustrated: Richaun Holmes’ journey from an unknown entity to NBA draft sleeper

Read More: 2015 NBA draft, 2015 Potential Celtics, Richaun Holmes,

NBA draft prospect profile: Duke C Jahlil Okafor

06.13.15 at 7:34 am ET
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As part of WEEI.com’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).

JAHLIL OKAFOR

Position: Center

School: Duke

Age: 19

Height: 6-foot-11

Weight: 270 pounds

Wingspan: 7-foot-5

Key 2014-15 stats: 17.3 points, 8.5 rebounds, 1.3 assists

Scouting report: Predicted to go first or second overall, Okafor has drawn comparisons to Tim Duncan in terms of his post play and footwork. NBAdraft.net says he is “one of the most advanced low-post scorers the college game has seen quite some time” and compliments his enormous, soft hands. As he is double-teamed fairly regularly, Okafor is able to break the coverage and avoid being trapped. While making the jump from high school to college, he worked on and continues to work on his conditioning, which has helped his role in the transition game. Okafor is hard to defend one-on-one and draws a lot of fouls. What the center has trouble with is more the defensive side of the game than anything. He sometimes misses box-outs and is out of position. Okafor also could stand to improve at the free throw line, as he shot just 51 percent from the charity stripe this past season.

“I know I’m going to get better,” Okafor told Basketball Insiders. “I can get better at everything I do, and I always improve. I don’t think my defense was as bad as people made it out to be. We did win a national championship and all of my coaches were extremely happy with the way that I played on both ends of the floor. Also, I couldn’t get in to foul trouble and with the way our defense was set up, I wasn’t really in rim-protecting situations.

“Honestly, that is one of my flaws that I can improve on, but I can also improve on the offense end. Luckily, I’m 19 years old and I think I have a lot of time to improve my game.”

Notes: Okafor was a consensus first team All-America selection and was named National Freshman of the Year, ACC Player of the Year and ACC Freshman of the Year. He is the first freshman in league history to be named ACC Player of the Year. He broke Duke’s freshman records for double-digit scoring games (35), total rebounds (322), offensive rebounds (134) and dunks (64). He was the third freshman in ACC history to score at least 20 points and grab at least 20 boards in the same game when he did so on Dec. 15, 2014. He won a state title in high school in Illinois before capturing an NCAA championship at Duke, a winning legacy that impressed Lakers legend Magic Johnson.

Related articles:

Sporting News: Jahlil Okafor is out to change the NBA before it changes without him

Sports Illustrated: Jahlil Okafor Q&A: Duke, NBA Draft, Chicago basketball and more

SB Nation: For Timberwolves, Karl-Anthony Towns vs. Jahlil Okafor is a question of philosophy

Read More: 2015 NBA draft, 2015 Potential Celtics, Jahlil Okafor,

NBA draft prospect profile: UNLV SG Rashad Vaughn

06.12.15 at 1:39 pm ET
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As part of WEEI.com’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).

RASHAD VAUGHN

Position: Shooting guard

School: UNLV

Age: 18 (turns 19 on Aug. 16)

Height: 6-foot-5

Weight: 199 pounds

Wingspan: 6-foot-7

Key 2014-15 stats: 17.8 points, 4.8 rebounds, 1.6 assists

Scouting report: Vaughn’s height and wingspan give him a pretty standard size for an NBA shooting guard. He is projected to be picked in the tail end of the first round. His biggest selling point from the perspective of NBA potential is his good scoring instincts. He is a creative shotmaker, getting shots with his feet set, off the dribble, coming off screens and any number of other manners. He averaged more than 22 points per 40 minutes. Doing so as an 18-year-old freshman bodes well for his growth potential as a scorer at the next level. He has solid lateral quickness and ability to get around screens from the defensive standpoint. However, he hasn’t proven to be a very high-motor player on the defensive end.

“It was difficult being Rashad Vaughn when you come in with a lot of pressure [as a five-star recruit],” UNLV coach Dave Rice said. “But he’s an unbelievable kid who plays hard every day, who’s coachable, takes everything to heart and just wants to be good.”

Despite his offensive talent, Vaughn still isn’t particularly refined or efficient with the basketball. His shot selection needs to improve. He isn’t a very explosive athlete and doesn’t have great length. As a ball-handler, he isn’t very creative and thus might be a predictable cover for NBA-level defenders.

Notes: Vaughn played only 23 games this season, going down in February with a season-ending knee injury. He reached double-digits in points in 21 of those 23 games, including the final 19. He was named the Mountain West Conference Freshman of the Year by the league’s coaches.

Related articles:

Las Vegas Review-Journal: Vaughn’s draft stock on the rise

CBSSports.com: Rashad Vaughn’s a skilled scorer, but can he improve his efficiency?

Read More: 2015 NBA draft, 2015 Potential Celtics, Rashad Vaughn,

NBA draft prospect profile: Arizona SF Rondae Hollis-Jefferson

06.12.15 at 10:33 am ET
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As part of WEEI.com’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).

RONDAE HOLLIS-JEFFERSON

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 NBAdraft.net, 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

Philly.com: 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 WEEI.com’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).

BOBBY PORTIS

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 NBAdraft.net. 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 WEEI.com’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).

BRANDON ASHLEY

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,
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