Tyler Herro: For Kentucky players, being a pro starts long before the NBA
A six-pack of Miami Heat notes on a Tuesday:
▪ Heat officials already have had a long look at three Kentucky prospects who could all go in the teens of the June 20 NBA Draft. And they’re going to get an even closer look in the weeks ahead.
The Heat, which has the 13th overall pick, has scheduled a private workout and visit in South Florida with Kentucky forward PJ Washington, according to a league source. Miami also plans to bring in Kentucky guard Tyler Herro, according to NEO Sports Inside’s John Alfes.
And the Heat has shown interest in scheduling a South Florida visit and workout with Kentucky 6-6 swingman Keldon Johnson, though nothing was booked as of late last week.
The Heat’s interest in Kentucky prospects is not surprising. Heat president Pat Riley attended school there and keeps a close eye on the Wildcats program. Coach John Calipari often produces NBA-ready prospects. And the Heat’s most recent first-round pick, Bam Adebayo, played at Kentucky.
Washington, a 6-8 stretch four, is intriguing. He averaged 15.2 points per game, 7.6 rebounds per game and shot 52.2 percent from the field and 42.3 percent — 33 for 78 — on three-pointers last season.
“He’s big and strong enough to physically dominate the most physical power forwards in the country and yet he’s quick enough and skilled enough to be able to step out on the floor and do things like a big guard,” Auburn coach Bruce Pearl told reporters this past season, via Bleacher Report.
ESPN’s Fran Fraschilla sees Washington and Johnson among a bunch of realistic options at 13, though some mocks have them going slightly later. Herro is considered likely to go in the late teens or early 20s.
▪ Several Heat executives — including Andy Elisburg and Adam Simon — watched North Carolina swingman Nassir Little in a workout in Las Vegas on Monday, and he remains in play for the Heat’s pick at No. 13. Miami has expressed interest in bringing him to South Florida for a visit, but Little is still formulating a workout schedule.
Little, 6-6, averaged 9.8 points and 4.6 rebounds in his one season at North Carolina.
▪ Though the Heat initially conveyed interest to his representation in bringing in former UM forward Dewan Hernandez for a workout, Hernandez told NBC 6’s Chris Fischer that Miami — to his disappointment — hasn’t yet booked anything with him, while 18 other teams have. Hernandez should get a chance with a team or multiple teams in summer leagues if he goes undrafted.
Miami did watch Hernandez in workouts at UM last season and at the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago earlier this month.
▪ At this point, there’s no South Florida Heat draft visit scheduled for Indiana’s Romeo Langford, who many draft analysts have going in Miami’s range at No. 13. Langford is recovering from April thumb surgery.
“He’s not a player who was there for three years where you have a 60-game sample,” ESPN executive Bobby Marks said of a player whose college career included 32 games. “So, you have to rely on what you saw at Indiana, what you saw beforehand, and a lot of your background, either when you are dealing with the Indiana coaching staff to get more background on the kid.”
Regarding how his thumb injury impacted his 27.2 percent three-point shooting last season, ESPN draft analyst Mike Schmitz said: “You have to take into account the fact that this kid played through this, and having an injury on your shooting hand is not easy to deal with, especially when you’re a guy who maybe that’s the biggest question about your game is whether or not you’re going to be able to make shots at the NBA level. I think it’s definitely something that teams need to take into consideration, that he played through that, and that it has clearly affected his percentages in some ways.
“With that said, he wasn’t a great shooter prior to this season at Indiana, so I think that was a question mark regardless. I could see him going anywhere from kind of like 8 to 14. He’s not for everyone just because I think his motor can be a little bit up and down, but he’s a prototype two guard who can score at all three levels and at least has the tools to defend even though he has room to improve there.”
Langford averaged 16.5 points per game last season.
▪ Quick stuff: Per ESPN draft analyst Jonathan Givony, Riley and coach Erik Spoelstra were among those who attended Tuesday’s Clutch Sports agent workout in Los Angeles for Alabama forward Donta Hall (10.5 points, 8.8 rebounds last season), Iowa State guard Talen Horton Tucker (11.8 points per game) and Darius Bezley, a former Parade All American who skipped college last season to go directly to the NBA (with a bridge year in between). Then the Heat got a look at Southern Cal guard Kevin Porter Jr. - one of the top candidates for its pick at No. 13 - during his Pro Day on Tuesday night.... The Heat invited Tulsa swingman DaQuan Jeffries to South Florida for a workout, but a minor hip injury will prevent that from happening. He averaged 13 points and shot 36.6 percent on threes last season.