Former Pitt players Jamel Artis, Michael Young await NBA Draft results
The NBA might ignore former Pitt players Jamel Artis and Michael Young through two rounds and 60 draft picks Thursday night.
Yet, Artis said that won't be enough to douse his hopes for a pro career. After leaving Pitt as the 11th all-time leading scorer (1,696 points), he said he worked out for 17 teams this spring, and the message to him was clear:
Don't give up the dream.
“They always say I'm an NBA player,” he said this week while visiting friends on the Pitt campus after spending time training in New York City.
“Whatever happens, I'll always have a shot at the NBA. If they pick me or if they don't. It won't be the end of my career.”
Artis is ranked 85th among draft prospects by Sporting News analyst Sam Vecenie. Young isn't on that list, but he nonetheless opened some NBA eyes.
Tony Falce, a trainer for Elite Skills Training who worked with Young in Miami, said the Duquesne native has a chance to be drafted.
“The Cavaliers were so high on Mike. They probably still are,” Falce said. “The problem is I don't know what is going to happen.”
Cavaliers general manager David Griffin and vice president of basketball operations Trent Redden were fired Monday.
Earlier this spring, the 22-year-old Young worked out for the Atlanta Hawks and Miami Heat. On Tuesday, he joined Villanova's Kris Jenkins, Arizona's Kadeem Allen and Florida State's Michael Ojo for a workout with the Philadelphia 76ers.
“I think, age-wise, Michael is a lot more mature (than other prospects), and he already has an NBA body,” Falce said.
Although Pitt (16-17) had its first losing season since 2000, Young proved he can score, averaging an ACC-leading 19.6 points — the most at Pitt since Brian Shorter's 20.6 in 1989-90. Young finished seventh all-time in career points (1,835).
Even if Young and Artis aren't selected, the NBA's G-League (formerly the D-League before it received a Gatorade sponsorship) can be a lucrative landing spot for them.
Players who split time between the NBA and G-League can make between a guaranteed $75,000 and $275,000.
Falce, a Brashear graduate who played on IUP's Division II national runner-up football team in 1993, said Young excelled at Elite Skills Training's pro day June 4, hitting 18 of 25 shots from the NBA 3-point line in a shooting drill.
That might have been a direct result of Pitt coach Kevin Stallings allowing his 6-foot-9, 235-pound forward to shoot more 3s last season. He hit 42 of 123 attempts after making 19 of 57 in three previous seasons under Jamie Dixon.
Artis, who was invited and participated in the NBA Draft combine, is projected as a shooting guard, but he believes playing at point guard last season helped develop his game.
“It definitely helped me a lot,” he said. “My ball-handling, my versatility. And I think I did OK.”
Playing point guard also didn't hurt his scoring touch in most games. His 43 points at Louisville on Jan. 11 — a day before his 24th birthday — stands as the second-best, single-game scoring effort in Pitt history.
Artis said preparing for his pro career has been “a grind.”
“You get tired,” he said, “but you can't lose focus on what you're doing.”