The two-day run of early pre-draft workouts got underway Tuesday at the practice facility in Tualatin, with two point guards, two wings and two posts being put through the motions by various members of the Trail Blazers scouting and coaching staffs.
Some of the names in Tuesday's group were a bit more recognizable, thanks in large part to the inclusion of Gonzaga's Jeremy Pargo, and the talent level, according to Chad Buchanan, Director of College Scouting, was just a tad bit higher than that of the first group.
"I thought yesterday’s group was decent," said Buchanan. "I thought this group was just a notch better. The point guards today, I think, raised the level of play today."
Those point guards were Pargo and Josh Akagnon out of Cal State Fullerton, who was a late addition to the workout after USC's Daniel Hackett had to pull out due to injury.
"Jeremy’s personality is kind of infectious, raised the workout," said Buchanan. "And Josh Akognon is very good with the ball offensively, so he can make stuff happen when stuff breaks down."
It was the inclusion of Pargo and Akognon that, despite the relative similarity in talent level, gave the second day of workouts more cohesion than the first.
"Yesterday those guys, that was all their first workouts," said Buchanan. "It’s like the first day of practice when guys are going as hard as they possibly can and it makes the game kind of sloppy. Where as these guys, the point guards were a little more poised, little more refined with the ball, made better decisions. The three-on-three stuff flowed a little better because those guys are making better decisions. These guys are two pure point guards, so that definitely helps."
Buchanan also noted a better balance, at least as far as the three-on-three play was concerned, in today's workout thanks to Chris Johnson of LSU and Jeff Adrien of UConn, both of whom are more tradition post players.
"You got two definite lowpost guys today, where as Demarre (Carroll) and Joe Krabbenhoft were kind of face the basket kind of fours," said Buchanan. "Now you’ve got more balance with your floor spacing when you’ve got two guys who want to play in the paint like Chris and Jeff do. So that just made our spacing a little better today too. Not that these guys were better players than yesterday, but the workout was better today."
Here's what Buchanan had to say about the six players who worked out on Tuesday.
Jeremy Pargo, Guard, Gonzaga
"You’ve got to respect a guy who communicates and talks and you can just feel how much he loves being out there competing. We saw him a lot during college, obviously being in the northwest, and have always respected his toughness, his grit, his leadership. I think you saw that out there today. He needs to improve in a few areas to step onto an NBA floor and I think he will do that knowing the type of kid he is. He’s definitely got a chance down the road to play in our league."
Josh Akognon, Guard, Cal State Fullerton
"He declared last year for the draft. We liked him in the workout that we saw him in last year. We were originally supposed to have Daniel Hackett but he got injured, so we brought Josh in. Very good with the ball. Didn’t shoot it as great today as he’s capable of, but very crafty. Quick with the ball. Can go get his own shot, which, for a guard in our league, is a must. Little small. Got to get a little better defensively, but I thought he held his own against Jeremy today."
Josh Carter, Guard, Texas A&M
"Josh, a great catch and shoot guy, was really effective early in his career playing with Acie Law. He needs guys around him to get him shots because he’s not great with the ball, not super athletic. But you put him in the corner or put him in a stationary situation, he can really shoot the ball."
Alonzo Gee, Guard, Alabama
"Alonzo will be one of the best wing athletes in this draft. Very explosive. He’s got good length, he’s strong. Needs to improve his overall skill level, I think; ball handling, shooting, decision-making. But he’s got some serious physical tools to work with. Much further along defensively than he is offensively right now. He was good today defensively."
Chris Johnson, Forward, LSU
"Great defensive presence with his length. Obviously as you look at him you see he needs to fill out, get a little stronger. He knows that. But if he can do that he can disrupt the game because he’s quick off the floor and he’s got good length. Very limited offensively right now. But one thing I’ll say about him is he knows what he is as a player, which for us is a sign of a high basketball IQ. He doesn’t try to do anything more than is expected of him. Had a great season for LSU this year. I thought he was very good today actually. He has a chance of being drafted in the second round."
Jeff Adrien, Forward, UConn
"You saw a lot of him during the year playing at a high profile school. Very physical. I thought he was good today once we started going live. You do the kind of skill work stuff and maybe he doesn’t shine as much because he’s kind of raw, but you get him out there competing and there’s something on the line. I thought he was very good today. We wanted to see those two guys matched up. Jeff is a guy I know people around the league do like. It wouldn’t surprise me if somebody took him in the second round."
The Trail Blazers will take a break from hosting pre-draft workouts at the practice facility until after the pre-draft combine in Chicago. However, the scouting staff will be in attendance for many of the upcoming group workouts held in places like Houston and Minneapolis between now and the draft lottery.