Area college basketball players savor their chance at making NBA
Versatile Pitt basketball star Lamar Patterson displayed another side of his personality during team workouts prior to Thursday's two-round NBA Draft.
Upon visiting with the Charlotte Hornets and Chicago Bulls, Patterson assumed the role of awestruck fan upon meeting Hornets chairman Michael Jordan and Bulls Hall of Famer Scottie Pippen for the first time.
“I knew he was going to be there, but when he walked in the gym I said, ‘Oh, man, there he goes,' ” said Patterson, describing his first encounter with Jordan. “At the end of the workout I made a couple nice moves and got a drink of water. He told me, ‘You've got an old-school game.' I got a nice laugh out of that.”
That was nothing compared with the hands-on treatment Patterson got from Pippen, special advisor to Bulls president & chief operating officer Michael Reinsdorf, who attended his workout in Chicago.
“Scottie Pippen rebounded for me,” said Patterson, who led Pitt in scoring and assists in 2013-14. “Can you imagine that?”
Upon entering Pitt out of Lancaster, Patterson couldn't have imagined working out for half the teams in the NBA, with the possibility of hearing his name called on draft night.
Patterson concluded his final week before the draft with workouts on consecutive days with the Atlanta Hawks and Charlotte, concluding Wednesday with the New York Knicks.
ESPN.com's latest mock draft does not project Patterson will be selected in the first round, but he said teams told him he's a possible second-round pick.
“The draft is so unpredictable,” said Patterson, a 6-foot-5 guard. “I'm confident based on the season I had, but I don't want to get my hopes up too high. You just never know until you hear your name called.”
Realizing his role could change at the next level, Patterson approached his workouts intent on showcasing all facets of his game.
“I had the ball in my hand 90 percent of the time at Pitt, but that's not going to happen next year,” Patterson said. “As time goes on and coaches and players get comfortable with my game, maybe I can use my playmaking ability more.
“That's how it was when I got to Pitt. Everything's not always going to be perfect. Just take my time.”
Another former Pitt standout, Talib Zanna, also worked out for NBA teams. The 6-foot-9 forward is a long shot to be drafted but could catch on with a team in the NBA Summer League.
“Some teams see me as a guy that can come in and rebound. Some teams want me to defend,” said Zanna, who led the Panthers in rebounding and blocks last season. “Any team that picks me and tells me what they want me to do, I'll do it.”
Former Schenley and Iowa State guard DeAndre Kane figures to be in the mix as a second-rounder.
Kane, who won the 2007 PIAA championship with DeJuan Blair and D.J. Kennedy, led the Big 12 in assists in his only season at Iowa State after transferring from Marshall.
One mock draft (nbadraft.net) has the Minnesota Timberwolves selecting Kane with the No. 53 pick.
Two other area seniors, Duquesne forward Ovie Soko and Robert Morris guard Karvel Anderson, could seek international basketball careers or hope to play in the summer league.