By now, it’s common knowledge that Ben Simmons is widely considered the top pick in this month’s NBA draft. What is not mentioned as often, however, is that Simmons’ LSU teammate, Tim Quarterman, has also thrown his name into the draft mix as well.
Simmons dominated the chatter all season long in the college ranks, but Quarterman quietly put together a solid season for the Tigers as well. Given his productive year, it was announced at the end of March that the junior would be declaring for the draft. In all, the program lost two players in total – as Antonio Blakeney opted to withdraw his name from draft consideration and return to LSU for his sophomore season.
On Saturday, Quarterman worked out in front of about 20 NBA teams at the Elite Skills Training Pro Day in Miami. Quarterman was among the standouts at the workout, which featured about 35 draft prospects and various free-agent players.
Quarterman flashed a wide-ranging set of skills at the workout. He proved that he can knock down the three-ball and drive to the rim among other things. Perhaps the strongest area of his game is his play-making, which was one full display over the weekend as he dropped in plenty of bounce passes and lobs to find teammates for open shots.
“That’s just how I play the game,” Quarterman told Basketball Insiders. “I believe in playing it the right way, so just ball movement and if my teammates are open, [I] just try to get them the ball where they can score. I think that my teammates put a lot of confidence in me and they enjoy playing with me.”
Although his numbers last season don’t necessarily reflect his facilitating, Quarterman flourished during three-on-three drills as his team’s floor general. He averaged 11.2 points, 4.6 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game at LSU last season, while shooting a career-high 34 percent from three-point range. He turned in his best outing of the season against Houston, recording 27 points, 10 rebounds and six assists.
While he and Simmons played relatively well last season, both players have been frequently asked about what went wrong at LSU. Boasting a roster with two players who are set to play in the NBA, the Tigers were unable to qualify for the NCAA tournament. Instead, they finished 19-14 in the SEC.
For one reason or another, the team wasn’t able to live up to the lofty expectations that came from the outside. Despite the down season, Quarterman says the season helped him become a better all-around player and person.
“I think we had a very talented team,” Quarterman said of the LSU squad. “We had a lot of good players and we were young at the same time. If we had another year together, we probably could have jelled better on the court to get the job done. The season went how it went, and I just don’t look back. I take the good things and the bad things that I learned and just try to move forward.
“I was challenged a lot, and just to get through it the way I did, keep my head up and stay positive, I think it definitely made me a better player and as I go through these situations. The adversity I went through, it helped me out a lot.”
It seems as though Quarterman’s time at LSU has prepared him for the next level. He began the pre-draft process projected to be selected in the second round. Sources have indicated that he’s worked out for 10 NBA teams so far, and will have worked out for 17 teams total by the time draft night approaches.
Quarterman is currently ranked at No. 15 by DraftExpress among all juniors, and he is listed as the 71st overall prospect. With a solid showing in Miami and more workouts to come, he has the potential to climb up teams’ draft boards.
“It’s very crazy, just knowing that your dream was always try to make it to the NBA and now you’re going through the process to try to make your dream come true,” Quarterman said. “It’s a very special moment, but at the same time you gotta keep grinding it out, take every day as a work day and just try to go and get it done.
“I think just coming out here and trying to prove myself, there are a lot of open slots [in the draft] so nothing is set in stone. [I’m] just going out here and try to prove myself and keep climbing up [the draft board].”
Quarterman could become a steal in the second round. Listed at 6’6 with a 6’9.5 wingspan at LSU, Quarterman has the sort of length that teams are always looking for in players. He has proven that he can disrupt a number of passes based on his time at college and during his workouts. He has also shown that he can take care of the ball – finishing seventh in assist-to-turnover ratio at 2.3. He’s a player who is going to hustle and can contribute in a number of different ways.
“[I’m] just trying to go out there and do what I do best,” Quarterman said. “I’m trying to make my teammates better. I know it’s a very competitive environment, so just trying to go out there and just play my game and try to get better.”
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