|Darrun Hilliard shows Celtics he has ‘right attitude’ in pre-draft workouts||06.11.15 at 8:55 am ET|
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 WEEI.com 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.”
|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|
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 »
|Cady Lalanne would love to channel his inner Kevin Garnett in a Celtics uniform||06.03.15 at 4:00 pm ET|
WALTHAM — Cady Lalanne has his sights set high.
The 6-foot-8 big man from UMass with a 7-foot-5 wingspan would love to model his game after another big man who made quite the impression during his time with the Celtics.
“Since I started playing basketball in ninth grade, KG has been a player I love to watch,” Lalanne said of Kevin Garnett after his pre-draft workout Wednesday with the Celtics. “I remember I used to always go to the park and try his fadeaway that he had when he was with the Timberwolves. When he came here and won a championship, I was really excited. Even right now, I still watch him and try to learn from him.”
What makes him think he can play like KG?
“Rebound the ball and play defense, that’s the strong [parts] right now,” Lalanne said. “I still have a lot to work on. I’m just ready to work. I would love to [emulate him]. He can knock the 15-foot jump shot, hit the three here and there and you can always count on him on defense to get stops.
“I can knock down the 15 to 17-foot jump shot, make threes and give a full effort on defense and offense and do everything I can to help the team win.”
While he’s got a long way to go to match KG’s accomplishments, he’s already traveled quite the road to get where he’s in position to dream the dream.
He was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. He went to Oak Ridge High School in Orlando, Fla. And he had to overcome not getting into his first choice (University of Georgia) because of academic ineligibility. But that didn’t stop him.
“Originally, it’s because I didn’t qualify. I signed with the University of Georgia and I didn’t qualify to go there. UMass and the whole A-10 is a “Prop 48” program. Coach [Derek] Kellogg started recruiting me so me and my head coach gave him a call. I didn’t get accepted to Georgia. The NCAA wouldn’t let me go to any schools except for the A-10 or the JUCOs. He told me he’d love to have me here so I came here, sat out the first year and was able to play the following year.”
|Olivier Hanlan has sights set on proving himself a ‘true point’ in NBA, maybe in Boston||06.03.15 at 10:32 am ET|
WALTHAM — Can Olivier Hanlan help the Celtics?
The point guard sensation broke onto the national scene with a 41-point outburst against Georgia Tech in the 2013 ACC tournament, setting a new conference tournament record for freshman scoring in the process. That summer Hanlan worked out at the Celtics’ training facility in Waltham, playing occasional pickup games with the likes of Jared Sullinger and Rajon Rondo.
Tuesday’s workout was like going back to the future for the 6-foot-4 guard, who led the ACC in scoring this past season at 19.5 PPG.
“It’s definitely fun being back here,” Hanlan said. “I’m kind of used to this place compared to other places.”
In three years at Boston College, Hanlan showed an explosive ability to get to the basket and score from everywhere on the court. It’s that kind of ability from the point guard position that could convince the Celtics to take a chance on the 22-year-old.
Celtics coach Brad Stevens acknowledged that acquiring a guard who can score and knock down the open jumper is high on their priority list heading into the June 25 draft in Brooklyn.
Hanlan not only has New England roots but a Canadian connection that could come in handy on the Celtics as he, like Kelly Olynyk were born in Canada. Hanlan transferred from his home in Quebec to the basketball powerhouse New Hampton School in New Hampton New Hampshire for his junior and senior years of high school.
He was recruited by Boston College and fell into a great situation for the last three years.
“I’ve built a lot of relationships [in Boston], so obviously it would be a dream come true,” Hanlan said. “But you can’t really be picky with these types of things.”
|Celtics to play preseason contest in Italy this October||06.03.15 at 9:49 am ET|
The Celtics will be going international to open their preseason this fall.
The NBA, in conjunction with Euroleague Basketball and RCS Sport, confirmed Wednesday that the Celtics will play a preseason game on Oct. 6 against Olimpia Milano in Milan, Italy, as part of NBA Global Games Europe 2015.
The 17-time NBA champion will play the three-time Euroleague champion and 26-time Italian League champion Olimpia Milano at the Mediolanum Forum in Milan.
“On behalf of the Celtics organization, we are proud to return to Milan for NBA Global Games 2015,” Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said in a statement. “I have particularly fond memories of playing in Europe almost 30 years ago, and I am sure our current players will relish this unique opportunity.”
“It is an honor to represent the Celtics and the NBA in Milan,” said Celtics guard Avery Bradley. “I know there are passionate NBA fans in Italy and we look forward to an electric atmosphere on game night.”
“We’ll play in Chicago and New York against Maccabi and then head home to Italy to play the Boston Celtics which will be an exciting week for us as a team,” Olimpia Milano president Flavio Portaluppi said. “We appreciate the opportunity to play such a spectacular opponent in front of our loyal fans.”
This will mark the Celtics’ seventh game in Europe and second contest in Milan, having previously played in 2012. Olimpia Milano features Alessandro Gentile, Samardo Samuels and MarShon Brooks, who was selected 25th overall in the 2011 NBA draft out of Providence. Brooks also was part of the blockbuster deal in July 2013 that sent Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry to the Nets.
Tickets can be purchased beginning June 8 at ticketone.it.
The Celtics also will play a regular-season game in Mexico City next season as part of NBA Global Games 2015, which will feature additional games around the world, including:
· China: Los Angeles Clippers vs. Charlotte Hornets in Shenzhen on Oct. 11 and Shanghai on Oct. 14
· Brazil: Orlando Magic vs. Flamengo in Rio De Janeiro on Oct. 17
· Mexico: Celtics vs. Sacramento Kings in Mexico City on Dec. 3 (regular season)
· Additional games and locations will be announced at a later date
|Celtics bring in a pair of UMass players for Wednesday pre-draft workouts||06.03.15 at 9:33 am ET|
WALTHAM — As pre-draft workouts continue, the Celtics are hosting another six players on Wednesday at their practice facility.
One day after working out four point guards, the Celtics are turning their focus to six big men, as it widely assumed they will be focused on bringing in a young impact forward/center to help with defense and rebounding in the paint.
Two of the six players scheduled Wednesday are from UMass. The six players scheduled to work out Wednesday are:
Kevin Capers – Florida Southern (D-II)
Maxie Esho — UMass
Alpha Kaba — France
Cady Lalanne – UMass
Larry Nance — Wyoming
T.J. Price – Western Kentucky
|Brad Stevens details exactly what Celtics get out of pre-draft workouts||06.03.15 at 9:15 am ET|
Brad Stevens is in a good place right now.
The Celtics coach is coming off a season in which his team surprised everyone by making the playoffs, winning 15 of their final 21 games to make the postseason for the first time in the Stevens era.
Now, Danny Ainge and son Austin are bringing in players who could serve as reinforcements to a roster that was overhauled midway through the season, and it’s Stevens’ job to identify players they might want to scoop up with any of their four picks they have in the upcoming draft.
“There have been some guys that been through that I think could help, but there are also some guys that have been through that are pretty impressive [who play positions where] I think we have pretty good depth,” Stevens said. “So then it becomes a decision of do you draft a young guy and develop him at a position where you already feel pretty strong, or do you try to fill positional needs? Luckily that’s above me and I just run the workouts.”
That is somewhat unusual for an NBA head coach, as assistants are usually delegated to such tasks. But with Stevens, he prefers to be hands on and have some input into what he might be working with next year.
“I really like it,” Stevens said. “You get a chance to really interact with guys, meet them face to face, spend time with them, watch them go through tough things, watch them go through good things, and respond to both. It’s good. These guys [front office] have said it many times, and I totally agree with it: it’s not the end-all, be-all. These guys have watched these guys play for years in games, this year, so for me you can maybe go and watch film on some of these guys, and then the workout validates what you saw. Or maybe it doesn’t. So it is fun to have them in here.”
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