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Hairston: D-League is Tougher Than College

P.J. Hairston made a name for himself this year punishing NBDL defenders, which he says were tougher than those in NCAA.

Joel Brigham

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P.J. Hairston has not taken the traditional road to the NBA Draft’s first round, where he is expected to be selected next month in Brooklyn, NY.

He didn’t play a single game at the University of North Carolina this season, nor did he notch a single minute overseas. Rather, Hairston followed up a falling out with UNC by catching on with the NBA Development League’s Texas Legends, and what happened next was enough to put the D-League in national headlines almost immediately.

That’s because in Hairston’s first handful of games with the Legends he scored 40 or more points twice, proving his prowess as a scorer against defenders that are more accomplished than the ones he would have faced at Chapel Hill.

“Playing against [D-League players] really prepares you for that next level,” Hairston said at the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago. “You play against other pro guys, guys that have played in the NBA that were sent down to play in the D-League a few games. For example, I had Bernard James, Jae Crowder and Shane Larkin come down and play on our team. Just playing with those guys, you can tell how their mentality was and how they have such a pro outlook on things.”

In other words, despite the stigma that D-League defenders are no good and points scored in D-League games don’t matter, Hairston’s belief is that the defenders there are even better than in the NCAA, meaning his scoring binge was even more special in the NBDL than if he had done something similar in the NCAA.

That, he believes, is what will make him the first player to be selected in the first round coming out of the D-League.

“It’s professional,” Hairston said. “It’s not college. You don’t have anyone holding your hand telling you not to shoot this or not to shoot that. It’s basically up to you.

“In Texas I put the ball on the floor a lot more. I became a better finisher – not perfect – but a better finisher. One of the other things I’m also working on is being able to take the ball through the court, coast-to-coast and finish. Things that I didn’t do a lot at North Carolina that I did in Texas is where I really showed my improvement and became a versatile player.”

Of course, if Hairston had had his druthers, he would have accepted a lesser punishment from the university for his questionable off-court associations and returned to the Tar Heels later in the season. In fact, he didn’t enter that season even considering the fact that he’d end it in a D-League uniform.

“It was a real big shock. I was expecting, ‘Hey, P.J. in 8-10 games you’ll be back,’” Hairston admitted. “When I was told I couldn’t play, it was probably the worst thing I could hear in my life.”

He’s not the kind of player to sit and sulk, however. Almost immediately after getting the news that UNC would not seek his reinstatement, Hairston was already game-planning how to finish out his year in preparation of this summer’s draft.

“I couldn’t sit around and sob and cry and be mad at myself,” Hairston said. “I had to figure out what my next step was, and transferring was an option, but I couldn’t do that. Overseas was an option, but I couldn’t take my online courses and couldn’t take my classes to graduate on time. The D-League was the last option where I could still take my online courses and still be able to graduate on time.”

So that’s what he did, and he did it pretty well.

“I took a communications class this spring and I actually got a B+ in the class,” he said. “That’s my main thing, I really want to graduate and have a degree. Like they say, the ball will stop bouncing one day and I always wanted to have something to fall back on where I could have a good job.”

It looks like he’s about to have a pretty good job as it is, though where he ends up in this upcoming draft is still anybody’s guess. Glen Rice Jr. took a similar path last season and ended up getting chosen by the Washington Wizards with 35th overall pick after his stint with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers. Hairston would much rather enjoy the guaranteed money that a first-round pick provides, but he’ll have to wait several more weeks to see whether he ends up there or not.

In the meantime, he can do nothing but count his blessings that things worked out okay in the end. Leaving North Carolina wasn’t his plan, but if the end result is getting to wear some team’s snapback while shaking NBA commissioner Adam Silver’s hand this summer, very little else is likely to matter.

Joel Brigham is a senior writer for Basketball Insiders, covering the Central Division and fantasy basketball.

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Mock Drafts

2020 NBA Mock Draft – The Final 60-Pick Mock

What a long and winding road the 20201 NBA Draft has been. While this draft cycle has seen its ups and down, the moment of truth if finally upon us.

Steve Kyler

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What a long and winding road the 20201 NBA Draft has been. While this draft cycle has seen its ups and down, the moment of truth if finally upon us.

Here is a final look at the 2020 Draft, and how it may play out in this final 60-pick Mock Draft of the 20202 NBA Draft process:

 

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Mock Drafts

2020 NBA Mock Draft – First Round – 08/21/2020

The 2020 NBA Draft order is now locked in, however, there are tons of additional questions to be answered in the coming weeks. Here is a look at the first round, in this Basketball Insiders Mock Draft.

Steve Kyler

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To say the 2020 NBA Draft has been chaotic is an understatement, however with last night’s NBA Draft Lottery out of the way, things are starting to at least trend in a positive direction.

That doesn’t mean there are not challenges ahead, namely when the actual NBA Draft will take place.

There is a growing sense that the NBA and the players are going to push back the start of the next cap year, which will likely impact when and how the NBA Draft plays out.

Typically, the Draft is a major transaction window for NBA teams, and with so much unknown surrounding how the salary cap will be set, and when trades and transactions typically consummated around the draft would become official, there is a lot of uncertainty, making the 2020 NBA draft wide open on many fronts.

The hope among teams is that some clarity on all of this will surface in the coming weeks, but for now most teams are operating in uncharted waters.

With all of that in mind, here is a look at the 2020 NBA Draft First round, which will be the first of many weekly Mock Drafts we’ll be dropping all the way up to the draft, whenever that finally gets set.

The Basketball Insiders Annual Consensus Mock Drafts will begin in September, as will full 60-pick mocks starting next week, so stay tuned.

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NBA Draft

NBA ANNOUNCES EARLY ENTRY CANDIDATES FOR 2020 NBA DRAFT

The National Basketball Association announced today that 205 players — 163 players from colleges and other educational institutions and 42 international players — have filed as early entry candidates for the 2020 NBA Draft

Basketball Insiders

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NEW YORK, April 28, 2020 – The National Basketball Association announced today that 205 players — 163 players from colleges and other educational institutions and 42 international players — have filed as early entry candidates for the 2020 NBA Draft presented by State Farm.

Players who have applied for early entry have the right to withdraw their names from consideration for the Draft by notifying the NBA of their decision in writing 10 days prior to the 2020 NBA Draft.

Following is the list of players from colleges and other educational institutions who have applied for early entry into the 2020 NBA Draft.

EARLY ENTRY CANDIDATES FOR 2020 NBA DRAFT

Player

School

Height

Status

Precious Achiuwa

Memphis

6-9

Freshman

Milan Acquaah

California Baptist

6-3

Junior

Jordyn Adams

Austin Peay

6-3

Freshman

Abdul Ado

Mississippi State

6-11

Junior

Ty-Shon Alexander

Creighton

6-4

Junior

Timmy Allen

Utah

6-6

Sophomore

Derrick Alston Jr.

Boise State

6-9

Junior

Cole Anthony

North Carolina

6-3

Freshman

Joel Ayayi

Gonzaga

6-5

Sophomore

Brendan Bailey

Marquette

6-8

Sophomore

Saddiq Bey

Villanova

6-8

Sophomore

Tyler Bey

Colorado

6-7

Junior

Jermaine Bishop

Norfolk State

6-1

Junior

Jomaru Brown

Eastern Kentucky

6-2

Sophomore

Marcus Burk

IUPUI

6-3

Junior

Dachon Burke Jr.

Nebraska

6-4

Junior

Jordan Burns

Colgate

6-0

Junior

Jared Butler

Baylor

6-3

Sophomore

Manny Camper

Siena

6-7

Junior

Vernon Carey Jr.

Duke

6-10

Freshman

Marcus Carr

Minnesota

6-2

Sophomore

Tamenang Choh

Brown

6-5

Junior

Kofi Cockburn

Illinois

7-0

Freshman

David Collins

South Florida

6-3

Junior

Zach Cooks

NJIT

5-9

Junior

Jalen Crutcher

Dayton

6-1

Junior

Ryan Daly

St. Joseph’s

6-5

Junior

Nate Darling

Delaware

6-5

Junior

Darius Days

LSU

6-6

Sophomore

Dexter Dennis

Wichita State

6-5

Sophomore

Lamine Diane

CSUN

6-7

Sophomore

Ayo Dosunmu

Illinois

6-5

Sophomore

Devon Dotson

Kansas

6-2

Sophomore

Nojel Eastern

Purdue

6-7

Junior

Anthony Edwards

Georgia

6-5

Freshman

CJ Elleby

Washington State

6-6

Sophomore

Mason Faulkner

Western Carolina

6-1

Junior

LJ Figueroa

St. John’s

6-6

Junior

Malik Fitts

St. Mary’s

6-8

Junior

Malachi Flynn

San Diego State

6-1

Junior

Blake Francis

Richmond

6-0

Junior

Hasahn French

St. Louis

6-7

Junior

DJ Funderburk

NC State

6-10

Junior

Both Gach

Utah

6-6

Sophomore

Alonzo Gaffney

Ohio State

6-9

Freshman

Luka Garza

Iowa

6-11

Junior

Jacob Gilyard

Richmond

5-9

Junior

Grant Golden

Richmond

6-10

Junior

Jordan Goodwin

St. Louis

6-3

Junior

Tony Goodwin II

Redemption Academy (MA)

6-6

Post-Graduate

Jayvon Graves

Buffalo

6-3

Junior

AJ Green

Northern Iowa

6-4

Sophomore

Darin Green Jr.

UCF

6-4

Freshman

Josh Green

Arizona

6-6

Freshman

Ashton Hagans

Kentucky

6-3

Sophomore

Tyrese Haliburton

Iowa State

6-5

Sophomore

Josh Hall

Moravian Prep (NC)

6-8

Post-Graduate

Rayshaun Hammonds

Georgia

6-9

Junior

Jalen Harris

Nevada

6-5

Junior

Niven Hart

Fresno State

6-5

Freshman

Aaron Henry

Michigan State

6-6

Sophomore

Jalen Hill

UCLA

6-10

Sophomore

Nate Hinton

Houston

6-5

Sophomore

Jay Huff

Virginia

7-1

Junior

Elijah Hughes

Syracuse

6-6

Junior

Feron Hunt

SMU

6-8

Sophomore

Chance Hunter

Long Beach State

6-6

Sophomore

DeJon Jarreau

Houston

6-5

Junior

Damien Jefferson

Creighton

6-5

Junior

Isaiah Joe

Arkansas

6-5

Sophomore

Dakari Johnson

Cape Fear CC (NC)

6-0

Freshman

Jalen Johnson

Louisiana

6-7

Junior

Andre Jones

Nicholls State

6-4

Junior

C.J. Jones

MTSU

6-5

Junior

Herbert Jones

Alabama

6-7

Junior

Mason Jones

Arkansas

6-5

Junior

Tre Jones

Duke

6-3

Sophomore

Corey Kispert

Gonzaga

6-7

Junior

Kameron Langley

NC A&T

6-2

Junior

AJ Lawson

South Carolina

6-6

Sophomore

Saben Lee

Vanderbilt

6-2

Junior

Kira Lewis Jr.

Alabama

6-3

Sophomore

Matt Lewis

James Madison

6-5

Junior

Isaiah Livers

Michigan

6-7

Junior

Denzel Mahoney

Creighton

6-5

Junior

Makur Maker

Pacific Academy (CA)

7-0

Post-Graduate

Sandro Mamukelashvili

Seton Hall

6-11

Junior

Tre Mann

Florida

6-4

Freshman

Nico Mannion

Arizona

6-3

Freshman

Naji Marshall

Xavier

6-7

Junior

Kenyon Martin Jr.

IMG Academy (FL)

6-7

Post-Graduate

Remy Martin

Arizona State

6-0

Junior

Tyrese Maxey

Kentucky

6-3

Freshman

Mac McClung

Georgetown

6-2

Sophomore

Jaden McDaniels

Washington

6-9

Freshman

Isiaha Mike

SMU

6-8

Junior

Isaiah Miller

UNCG

6-0

Junior

Matt Mitchell

San Diego State

6-6

Junior

EJ Montgomery

Kentucky

6-10

Sophomore

Andrew Nembhard

Florida

6-5

Sophomore

Aaron Nesmith

Vanderbilt

6-6

Sophomore

Zeke Nnaji

Arizona

6-11

Freshman

Obadiah Noel

Massachusetts-Lowell

6-4

Junior

Jordan Nwora

Louisville

6-7

Junior

Onyeka Okongwu

USC

6-9

Freshman

Isaac Okoro

Auburn

6-6

Freshman

Elijah Olaniyi

Stony Brook

6-5

Junior

Daniel Oturu

Minnesota

6-10

Sophomore

Reggie Perry

Mississippi State

6-10

Sophomore

Filip Petrusev

Gonzaga

6-11

Sophomore

John Petty Jr.

Alabama

6-5

Junior

Nate Pierre-Louis

Temple

6-4

Junior

Xavier Pinson

Missouri

6-2

Sophomore

Yves Pons

Tennessee

6-6

Junior

Immanuel Quickley

Kentucky

6-3

Sophomore

Darius Quisenberry

Youngstown State

6-1

Sophomore

Jahmi’us Ramsey

Texas Tech

6-4

Freshman

Paul Reed Jr.

DePaul

6-9

Junior

Nick Richards

Kentucky

6-11

Junior

Colbey Ross

Pepperdine

6-1

Junior

Fatts Russell

Rhode Island

5-10

Junior

Joe Saterfield

Ranger CC (TX)

6-4

Freshman

Jayden Scrubb

John A. Logan College (IL)

6-6

Sophomore

Aamir Simms

Clemson

6-9

Junior

Ja’Vonte Smart

LSU

6-4

Sophomore

Chris Smith

UCLA

6-9

Junior

Collin Smith

UCF

6-11

Junior

Jalen Smith

Maryland

6-10

Sophomore

Justin Smith

Indiana

6-7

Junior

Mitchell Smith

Missouri

6-10

Junior

Stef Smith

Vermont

6-1

Junior

Ben Stanley

Hampton

6-6

Sophomore

Cassius Stanley

Duke

6-6

Freshman

Isaiah Stewart

Washington

6-9

Freshman

Parker Stewart

UT-Martin

6-5

Sophomore

Terry Taylor

Austin Peay

6-5

Junior

MaCio Teague

Baylor

6-3

Junior

Tyrell Terry

Stanford

6-1

Freshman

Justin Thomas

Morehead State

5-11

Junior

Ethan Thompson

Oregon State

6-5

Junior

Xavier Tillman Sr.

Michigan State

6-8

Junior

Jeremiah Tilmon

Missouri

6-10

Junior

Obi Toppin

Dayton

6-9

Sophomore

Jordan Tucker

Butler

6-7

Junior

Devin Vassell

Florida State

6-6

Sophomore

Alonzo Verge Jr.

Arizona State

6-3

Junior

Chris Vogt

Cincinnati

7-1

Junior

CJ Walker

Ohio State

6-1

Junior

Trendon Watford

LSU

6-9

Freshman

Ibi Watson

Dayton

6-5

Junior

Nick Weatherspoon

Mississippi State

6-2

Junior

Kaleb Wesson

Ohio State

6-9

Junior

Jarrod West

Marshall

5-11

Junior

Romello White

Arizona State

6-8

Junior

Kahlil Whitney

Kentucky

6-6

Freshman

DeAndre Williams

Evansville

6-9

Sophomore

Emmitt Williams

LSU

6-6

Sophomore

Keith Williams

Cincinnati

6-5

Junior

Patrick Williams

Florida State

6-8

Freshman

James Wiseman

Memphis

7-1

Freshman

Robert Woodard II

Mississippi State

6-7

Sophomore

McKinley Wright IV

Colorado

6-0

Junior

Omer Yurtseven

Georgetown

7-0

Junior

The following is the list of international players who have applied for early entry into the 2020 NBA Draft:

Player

Team/Country of Team

Height

Status

Berke Atar

MZT Skopje (Macedonia)

6-11

1999 DOB

Deni Avdija

Maccabi Tel Aviv (Israel)

6-8

2001 DOB

Brancou Badio

Barcelona (Spain)

6-3

1999 DOB

Darko Bajo

Split (Croatia)

6-10

1999 DOB

Philippe Bayehe

Roseto (Italy)

6-9

1999 DOB

Marek Blazevic

Rytas (Lithuania)

6-10

2001 DOB

Adrian Bogucki

Radom (Poland)

7-1

1999 DOB

Leandro Bolmaro

Barcelona (Spain)

6-6

2000 DOB

Vinicius Da Silva

Prat (Spain)

7-0

2001 DOB

Henri Drell

Pesaro (Italy)

6-9

2000 DOB

Imru Duke

Zentro Basket (Spain)

6-8

1999 DOB

Michele Ebeling

Kleb Ferrara (Italy)

6-9

1999 DOB

Paul Eboua

Pesaro (Italy)

6-8

2000 DOB

Osas Ehigiator

Fuenlabrada (Spain)

6-10

1999 DOB

Joel Ekamba

Limoges (France)

6-5

2001 DOB

Selim Fofana

Neuchatel (Switzerland)

6-3

1999 DOB

Miguel Gonzalez

Baskonia (Spain)

6-7

1999 DOB

Killian Hayes

Ratiopharm Ulm (Germany)

6-5

2001 DOB

Sehmus Hazer

Bandirma (Turkey)

6-3

1999 DOB

Rokas Jokubaitis

Zalgiris (Lithuania)

6-4

2000 DOB

Georgios Kalaitzakis

Nevezis (Lithuania)

6-8

1999 DOB

Vit Krejci

Zaragoza (Spain)

6-8

2000 DOB

Arturs Kurucs

VEF Riga (Latvia)

6-3

2000 DOB

Dut Mabor

Roseto (Italy)

7-1

2001 DOB

Yam Madar

Hapoel Tel Aviv (Israel)

6-2

2000 DOB

Theo Maledon

ASVEL (France)

6-4

2001 DOB

Karim Mane

Vanier (Canada)

6-5

2000 DOB

Sergi Martinez

Barcelona (Spain)

6-8

1999 DOB

Nikola Miskovic

Mega Bemax (Serbia)

6-10

1999 DOB

Aristide Mouaha

Roseto (Italy)

6-3

2000 DOB

Caio Pacheco

Bahia Basket (Argentina)

6-3

1999 DOB

Joel Parra

Joventut (Spain)

6-8

2000 DOB

Aleksej Pokusevski

Olympiacos (Greece)

7-0

2001 DOB

Sander Raieste

Kalev/Cramo (Estonia)

6-9

1999 DOB

Nikolaos Rogkavopoulos

AEK (Greece)

6-8

2001 DOB

Yigitcan Saybir

Anadolu Efes (Turkey)

6-7

1999 DOB

Njegos Sikiras

Fuenlabrada (Spain)

6-9

1999 DOB

Marko Simonovic

Mega Bemax (Serbia)

6-11

1999 DOB

Mouhamed Thiam

Nanterre (France)

6-9

2001 DOB

Uros Trifunovic

Partizan (Serbia)

6-7

2000 DOB

Arnas Velicka

Prienai (Lithuania)

6-4

1999 DOB

Andrii Voinalovych

Khimik (Ukraine)

6-10

1999 DOB

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