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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 »

Read More: Baltimore Orioles, Boston Celtics, MLB, NBA
NBA draft prospect profile: Louisville F Montrezl Harrell 06.10.15 at 2:09 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).

MONTREZL HARRELL

Position: Forward

School: Louisville

Age: 21

Height: 6-foot-7.5

Weight: 253 pounds

Wingspan: 7-foot-4.25

Key 2014-15 stats: 15.7 points, 9.2 rebounds, 56.6 field goal percentage, 59.7 free throw percentage

Scouting report: Harrell is a powerful force at and around the rim. He is a prolific dunker and a tenacious and impressive rebounder. Of his 9.2 rebounds per game last season, 3.2 came on the offensive glass. His length and strength at least partly make up for the fact that he is relatively short for an NBA power forward. While he is not a knock-down shooter, Harrell’€™s jumper has improved. In 2012-13, he shot 24.4 percent on two-point jumpers. The following two seasons, he shot at a 36.8 percent clip on the same opportunities. His free throw shooting has improved as well, going from 46 percent as a sophomore to a more respectably 59.7 percent as a junior last season. He has a high motor and could be a defensive force at the NBA level.

“His family wanted him to go pro as a sophomore. He just felt that he needed another year of offensive development. He’s improved his passing dramatically, his ballhandling dramatically. He’s always been a warrior with the way he’s played. He plays every possession as if it’s his last on earth,” Louisville coach Rick Pitino said of Harrell, who projects to be picked in the mid-to-late first round.

Harrell is not a great defensive rebounder, averaging 6.4 per 40 minutes for his career. His height means that opposing bigs will be able to shoot over him. Despite his shooting improvements, he still isn’t going to be feared on the offensive end.

Notes: Harrell surprised some by returning to Louisville for the 2014-15 season instead of entering the draft. During his freshman year in 2013, Harrell was a backup for the championship-winning Cardinals. He was named first-team All-AAC in 2014 and then second-team All-ACC last season after Louisville switched conferences.

Related articles:

Charlotte Observer: NBA draft: Louisville’€™s Montrezl Harrell developing jumper to go with defense

CBS Sports: Montrezl Harrell could become an elite NBA role player in time

Read More: 2015 NBA draft, 2015 Potential Celtics, Montrezl Harrell,
Jeff Van Gundy on D&C: ‘I don’t see how [Cavaliers] can win’ NBA Finals despite series lead 06.10.15 at 10:30 am ET
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Jeff Van Gundy

Jeff Van Gundy

With the Cavaliers knocking off the Warriors in another exciting NBA Finals game Tuesday night, ABC/ESPN analyst Jeff Van Gundy checked in with Dennis & Callahan on Wednesday morning to discuss the series. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

The Warriors were heavy favorites heading into the series, but the Cavaliers have a 2-1 lead as LeBron James has outperformed MVP Steph Curry. With fellow stars Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving out, James is attempting to pull off what many thought was impossible.

“There won’t be a bigger upset, I know that,” Van Gundy said. “Listen, I’m going to say this: [James] getting his 2007 Cavaliers to the Finals, beating a great Detroit team, scoring 29 of the last 30 points in Game 5, that to me was his greatest accomplishment until now. Even surpassing winning championships in Miami.

“Getting to the Finals with this team and now winning two games in the Finals, already to me it’s his greatest accomplishment. If he can pull this off, it’ll be one of the greatest accomplishments for any individual player in my recollection.”

That said, Van Gundy isn’t convinced James will be able to deliver Cleveland’s first-ever NBA championship this year.

“I don’t think we’ve ever seen a guy in the Finals have to shoulder a burden like this,” Van Gundy said. “Now, I don’t think they’re going to be able to pull it off. I don’t see how they can win two more games. But if they do? To me there’s never been a greater feat or accomplishment in the NBA.”

Added Van Gundy: “In the end, the better team wins. There are very few upsets, Talent prevails. And Golden State certainly has the most talent. Listen, if you did a draft you would take James No. 1, and then the next probably four picks would be the Warriors. And then maybe [Timofey] Mozgov gets in there.

“I just really believe that Golden State has been the best team all year. They’ve been dominant in the playoffs up until now. They got in the same predicament against Memphis and were able to win the next three. So I think they’ve going to find their way out of it. But that does not detract at all from what Cleveland has been able to do. I’m just so impressed with James and their grit.

“And you know what? David Blatt, for whatever reason, the media is so reluctant to give him credit. They give credit to a lot of coaches. Blatt is not on their list for getting credit. But what he’s been able to do with his team and the body blows that they’ve undertaken throughout the playoffs and that they’re still playing so well, it’s a credit to him as well.”

Read More: David Blatt, Jeff Van Gundy, LeBron James, Steph Curry
NBA draft prospect profile: Kansas PF Cliff Alexander 06.10.15 at 9:45 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).

CLIFF ALEXANDER

Position: Power forward

School: Kansas

Age: 19

Height: 6-foot-8

Weight: 250 pounds

Wingspan: 7-foot-2

Key 2014-15 stats: 7.1 points, 5.3 rebounds, 1.3 blocks, 56.6 field goal percentage

Scouting report: With his wide wingspan, Alexander excels at rebounding, averaging a little over five per game this past season with the Jayhawks. He also brings a lot of energy to the court and is able to affect the game whether or not he’s handling the ball. Though his height is not ideal for a physical NBA power forward, Alexander makes up for it with his bulk and overall length, helping him protect the rim well. As his career progresses, he has the frame and power to become a mature, strong player at the professional level.

Alexander’s offense needs more work, though, as he has trouble shooting from more than 10 feet out and could stand to work on his footwork by the post. He got a late start to his basketball career, as he did not begin playing until high school. This can cause Alexander to be a little bit predictable in one-on-one situations and highlight some in-game instincts that might not be there. Scouts have tabbed Alexander as someone who is strong and good from one end of the court to the other but certainly has areas that need improvement, and he knows it.

“When I was playing [at Kansas], I wasn’t very dominant,” Alexander told DraftExpress.com. “I didn’t live up to my expectations, the way I was supposed to, and then when the suspension came, it just made me go downward.”

Notes: Alexander ran into some trouble toward the end of the 2014-15 season as he encountered an NCAA eligibility issue that caused him to miss Kansas’ last three regular-season games, the Big 12 tournament and the NCAA Tournament, which totaled eight games. Alexander’s mother, Latilla, had ties to a financial company that specialized in loans to professional athletes, according to a Yahoo! Sports report. Regardless, he still finished tied for the team lead in blocked shots, was second in rebounding and led Kansas in field goal percentage with .566. Alexander, projected to go late in the first round or early on in the second, worked out for the Celtics in a predraft session on May 28.

Related articles:

SB Nation: Introducing Cliff Alexander, college basketball’s most entertaining player

ESPN: Kansas freshman has big shoes to fill

Yahoo! Sports: Public filing ties Cliff Alexander parent to financial firm

Read More: 2015 NBA draft, 2015 Potential Celtics, Cliff Alexander,
NBA draft prospect profile: Duke F Justise Winslow 06.10.15 at 6:40 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).

JUSTISE WINSLOW

Position: Forward

School: Duke

Age: 19

Height: 6-foot-6

Weight: 222 pounds

Wingspan: 6-foot-10

Key 2014-15 stats: 12.6 points, 6.5 rebounds, 41.8 3-point percentage

Scouting report: Winslow, predicted to be a top-five pick, shows a lot of promise on both sides of the ball. He showcases good speed, athleticism, versatility in scoring and use of his good body, but could afford to do so more aggressively, according to NBAdraft.net. CBS Sports cites his athleticism as what really makes his game stand out, as the combination of strength and explosiveness impacts both his offensive and defensive capabilities.

“He does everything,” teammate Jahlil Okafor told the Los Angeles Times. “Steals, blocks, obviously he can score. He can defend pretty much one through four. Five if necessary.”

The only real area of his game that could require significant attention is his free throw shooting since he drained just 64.1 percent of his attempts last season.

Notes: Selected to the All-Final Four team, All-ACC Freshman team and the USBWA All-District 3 Team, Winslow was the third-highest scoring freshman in the ACC last season and recorded 31 double-digit point games, second in the conference only to Okafor, who had 35. The forward’s 6.5 rebounds per contest also ranked second among ACC freshmen, and he was just coach Mike Krzyzewski‘s second player 6-foot-6 or shorter to average at least six rebounds a game. Winslow managed seven double-doubles on the and year and even recorded three in a row from Jan. 28 to Feb. 4. During the NCAA Tournament, Winslow averaged 14.3 points and 9.3 boards and shot 50.9 percent from the field, 57.1 percent from deep, helping the Blue Devils win the championship.

Related articles:

SB Nation: Duke’s Justise Winslow is the do-it-all wing for a new generation

Los Angeles Times: Justise Winslow has become more than just Duke’s other freshman

Sports Illustrated: Emerging star Justise Winslow guides Duke past Gonzaga, into Final Four 

Read More: 2015 NBA draft, 2015 Potential Celtics, Justise Winslow,
NBA draft prospect profile: Washington C Robert Upshaw 06.09.15 at 7:55 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).

ROBERT UPSHAW

Position: Center

School: Washington

Age: 21

Height: 7-foot-0

Weight: 258 pounds

Wingspan: 7-foot-5.5

Key 2014-15 stats: 10.9 points, 8.2 rebounds, 4.5 blocks, 59.3 field goal percentage, 43.4 free throw percentage

Scouting Report: Upshaw has the right body and dimensions to be an NBA big man. His height, length and big hands give him the profile of a center and make him an imposing rim-protecting presence. He can alter shots inside (4.5 blocks per game last season) and rebound at both ends of the floor. He drew a lot of fouls and can finish above the rim offensively with his massive frame. “With Rob back there, it’€™s like having a security blanket. You know big guy has your back if you make any mistakes,” Huskies guard Andrew Andrews said of his teammate. With Upshaw on the floor, opponents had much more trouble scoring. On two-point attempts, opposing teams shot 49.7 percent with Upshaw on the bench and just 38.5 percent with him on the court.

He will need to adjust to the faster pace and larger front court competitors at the NBA level. He won’€™t be able to get by solely on size at the next level. He struggled mightily at the free throw line, shooting an abysmal 43.4 percent. Mock drafts project Upshaw to be picked anywhere from the tail end of the first round to the middle of the second. USA Today’s mock draft v.10.0 (from June 1) has the Celtics gambling on Upshaw with the 28th pick.

Notes: Upshaw has had more than his share of troubles off the court. He spent his freshman year at Fresno State and was dismissed from the program in August 2013. He then transferred to Washington and played 19 games last season as a redshirt sophomore before being dismissed for what Washington coach Lorenzo Romar called a violation of team rules. ESPNs Jeff Goodman reported that Upshaw failed drug tests at both schools. At the combine, Upshaw was flagged for a heart issue and suspended his workouts and training. His agent said he has had similar test results in the past and was cleared to resume playing. These issues have complicated his draft stock despite his potential lottery-level talent.

Related articles:

NBA.com: Robert Upshaw offers intrigue despite past transgressions

Yahoo: Washington dismisses troubled NBA prospect Robert Upshaw

Read More: 2015 NBA draft, 2015 Potential Celtics, Robert Upshaw,
NBA draft prospect profile: Brazil PG/SG Danilo Fuzaro 06.09.15 at 4:38 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).

UPDATE, June 15: Fuzaro withdrew from the draft.

DANILO FUZARO

Position: Point guard/shooting guard

Country: Brazil

Age: 21

Height: 6-foot-4

Weight: 180 pounds

Wingspan: N/A

Key 2014-2015 stats (with Minas in the Brazilian league): 20.4 minutes, 9.0 points, 1.8 rebounds, .543 FG percentage, .419 3-point percentage

Scouting report: Fuzaro is a combo guard with a tendency to playing the two. He’s an explosive athlete with the size and potential strength to match up at either point guard or shooting guard. He has above-average court vision and he makes good passes coming off of the pick and roll. However, one rap against Fuzaro is that he tends to put scoring ahead of open teammates and takes too many difficult shots in the lane. Though he may be a tad selfish, Fuzaro is a talented finisher, and with a dynamic first step he is a fierce attacker of the rim. On defense, he looks to get run-outs and lead the fast break, where he is at his best and most aggressive. While his percentages are high, Fuzaro’s shot needs work, especially from beyond the arc.

Fuzaro describes his game as most like Michael Carter-Williams’. In an interview with NBAdraft.net, the potential first-rounder said of himself, “I’m a combo guard. I usually play PG and SG. Being 6-foot-5, I can take advantage of my size and strength playing at the one. I’m very aggressive and I can use my first step to beat my defender. I can finish strong with dunks and layups. I have good vision of the court and I can find the open man. I do have a good shot and I like to run the court and put my team in situations to score in easy ways on fast breaks. I love to defend. I can defend smaller players because I’m quick for my size, and taller players as well because of my body. I am a winner, I practice hard and I work hard to improve my weaknesses, like having more consistency.”

Notes: During the Brazilian league playoffs, Fuzaro averaged 20 points per game. Though he was born in Brazil, he has an Italian passport His full name is Danilo Fuzaro Siqueira.

Related articles:

NBAdraft.net: Danilo Fuzaro interview

Read More: 2015 NBA draft, 2015 Potential Celtics, Danilo Fuzaro,
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