NBA officials expect Marquette’s Prosper to remain in draft
By GERY WOELFEL
For several NBA officials, it’s a foregone conclusion Olivier Maxence-Prosper will remain in the NBA draft.
Prosper, a versatile 6-foot-7 forward from Marquette University, has until the end of month to make a decision on his basketball future.
But in the wake of impressive showings at last week’s NBA Combine in Chicago and Tuesday’s pro day in Los Angeles, Prosper is a lock to be drafted late in the first round or early in the second.
“He did great in Chicago,’’ an Eastern Conference scouting director said of Prosper. “He really helped himself. I’d be very, very surprised if he goes back to school now.’’
Added a Western Conference official: “He showed us that he can do a lot more things than he showed at Marquette. Personally, I thought he was the best player in Chicago.’’
Prosper opened the eyes of NBA officials at the Combine by scoring 21 points and grabbing seven rebounds in just 22 minutes of action.
He then opted out of a second game the next day, sending a message to NBA officials that he had accomplished what he wanted and that he was going to remain in the draft.
Prosper, a native of Montreal, also excelled in the physical testing portion of the combine. His vertical leap of 40½ inches was the third-best among draft prospects and his standing vertical jump of 35 inches was surpassed only by Tennessee’s Julian Phillips’ 36 inches. Prosper also finished third in the shuttle run at 3.0 seconds.
Prosper, who has already worked out for several NBA teams, is expected to work out for the Utah Jazz on Friday. The Jazz possess three first-round picks – Nos. 9, 16 and 28 – and could consider selecting Prosper with the latter pick.
All 30 first-round draft picks will receive guaranteed contracts. The contracts of second-round selections aren’t guaranteed, although 12 players chosen in the second round of last year’s draft were given guaranteed contracts.
Prosper played an integral role in Marquette’s success last season – the Golden Eagles went 29-7 – by averaging 12.7 points and 4.7 rebounds.
“He’s really done a nice job through the (draft) process,’’ an Eastern Conference executive said of Prosper. “He was very good at the Combine, and he was very good at his pro day.’’
Podziemski solidifies draft stock
Like Prosper, Brandin Podziemski looks to be pro bound.
Podziemski, a standout combo guard from Santa Clara, is virtually a cinch to be a top 40 pick. Podziemski’s draft journey has been nothing short of amazing.
After being chosen the 2021 Wisconsin Mr. Basketball while attending St. John’s Northwestern Academies, Podziemski attended Illinois and had one non-descript season, averaging a paltry 1.4 points a game.
He then transferred to Santa Barbara and experienced a breakthrough season by averaging 19.9 points, 8.8 rebounds and 3.7 assists.
“I have him going at the top of the second round, but I’m hearing he’s now got a first-round promise,’’ an NBA executive said.
Ramon Sessions pursues new career
Ramon Sessions was one of the best draft selections in the history of the Milwaukee Bucks.
Sessions was the 56th pick in the 2007 draft and went on to have a productive 11-year NBA career.
After his playing days, Sessions worked in the front office for the New Orleans Pelicans and is now a licensed sports agent.
In this year’s draft, he repping Jordan Walsh, a McDonald’s All-American who played last season at Arkansas. Walsh is projected to be a late-first to early-second round pick in the June draft, if he opts to remain in the draft.
Where will Bob Myers end up?
In the last week, speculation has ramped up on Bob Myers’ future with the Warriors.
Myers hasn’t tipped his hand, but sources claim the president of basketball and general manager will be ending his highly successful run with the team.
There has been talk the 49-year-old Myers may take a year off, and there has been speculation he’ll end up with the Clippers.
Still going strong
I’ve covered 33 NBA pre-draft/combines and it’s always been a pleasure to chat with Jerry West, one of my childhood heroes.
West attended last week’s Combine in Chicago and still looks amazingly fit, especially for someone who turns 85 on May 28.
West, of course, is renowned for his Hall of Fame basketball career, but he was also an exceptional golfer with a +3-handicap.
I asked Mr. Clutch if he was still hitting the links and he responded, “I thought about that the other day. I took a year off, but I think I’m going to start playing again.’’
While I had a chance to catch up with West, I unfortunately didn’t get to chat with Bill Bertka, the ageless consultant for the Los Angeles Lakers.
Bertka broke into the NBA in 1968 as an assistant coach and scout for the Lakers. He was a part of 10 NBA championships – seven as an assistant coach — and regarded as a pioneer in film study and advance scouting.
Bertka is 95 years young.
Ready to wheel and deal
The NBA’s 77th annual draft isn’t until June 22, but the trade rumors are already running rampant.
Several NBA officials said they expect at least a handful of the 14 lottery teams to make a trade. That group includes the Mavericks, Magic, Rockets, Trail Blazers and Pelicans.