CHICAGO — The Celtics have interviewed 13 prospects over the first two days of the NBA Draft Combine here, according to a league source.
On Wednesday, Boston’s staff met with Kentucky center Willie Cauley-Stein, Arkansas guard Bobby Portis, Washington center Robert Upshaw, Stanford forward Anthony Brown, Virginia guard Justin Anderson, Arizona forward Stanley Johnson, Kansas forward Kelly Oubre, Maryland guard Dez Wells, and Syracuse forward Chris McCullough.
Thursday’s schedule was lighter, as the on-court portion of the combine began. The Celtics met with Louisville guard Terry Rozier, Duke forward Justise Winslow, UNLV forward Christian Wood, and Duke guard Tyus Jones.
The league source said that on Friday, the Celtics were scheduled to meet with LSU forward Jordan Mickey, Kentucky forward Devin Booker, Notre Dame guard Pat Connaughton, UCLA forward Kevon Looney, and Texas forward Myles Turner.
Among the players who discussed the Celtics on Thursday, most spoke glowingly about coach Brad Stevens.
“He’s a younger coach in the NBA and has a great relationship with his players,” said Anderson, the former Virginia star. “Playing for him would be similar to playing for coach [Tony] Bennett as far as how genuine he seemed. He’s a genuine guy. He’s very straightforward. They have a young program, they’re coming up and they’re gonna be really good.”
Added Johnson, the former Arizona star: “He was just cool. He was always super cool, and I was always impressed with what he did at Butler.”
Each team is allowed to interview 18 players over three days this week. The teams submit a list of players they would like to talk to, and then the NBA assigns the final group. It can be an early way to get an idea of a franchise’s interest in a player, but it is also true that teams often focus on prospects they might not be able to bring to their cities for individual workouts.
The Celtics had a five-man delegation sitting front and center for Thursday’s five-on-five scrimmages here. Stevens was flanked by assistant general manager Mike Zarren, director of player personnel Austin Ainge, director of scouting Dave Lewin, and assistant coach Walter McCarty. President of basketball operations Danny Ainge was not in attendance because he did not feel well. Austin Ainge said his father was sending him frequent text messages while watching the combine on television.
Boatright looms large
At 5 feet 10 inches and 169 pounds, UConn guard Ryan Boatright is the shortest and second-lightest player at the Combine. His wingspan of 6 feet ½ inch is the shortest, too.
But Boatright is eager to prove that he can make it in the NBA despite his stature, and he is focused on becoming a more appealing prospect in some areas that he hopes he can control.
“I think if I can put on some weight, it’ll help me,” he said. “I’ve just got to eat right, man. I’ve got to eat the right foods. I have a very high metabolism, and my mother and father are petite. But I think once I get through this process of working out so much, I’m gonna be able to put on some weight.”
Boatright said he has received advice from a former teammate who knows a bit about the process as well as trying to make it as an undersized guard. Last season, the Huskies’ 6-1, 175-pound point guard Shabazz Napier was selected with the 24th pick of the draft.
“He just told me to continue to work hard,” Boatright said. “It’s a tiring process, mentally and physically, but it’s fun. I’ve just got to have a good attitude.”
Even though a full season has passed since UConn won the national title, Boatright is optimistic that memories of that run will resonate.
“Hopefully that’s still ringing on those teams’ minds and those general managers’ minds that I’m a winner and I can do anything in a basketball game,” he said.
Boatright played 25 minutes in yesterday’s first five-on-five scrimmage. He had 12 points on 5-of-8 shooting and added a pair of assists.
On the list
The NBA released a list of measurements from the players in attendance, everything from hand size to body fat percentage to wingspan. These figures are generally not valued quite as highly as they are during the NFL Scouting Combine, but they do provide potentially useful information. Here are some of the highs and lows:
Upshaw, one of the more intriguing prospects here in Chicago, had the longest (10 inches) and widest (11 inches) hands. He also had the longest standing reach at 9-5 and the longest wingspan at 7-5½.
Wisconsin forward Frank Kaminsky was the tallest player in shoes, at 7-¾. Upshaw and Cauley-Stein were the only other 7-footers, and, for that matter, the only players at least 6-10.
Guards Quinn Cook (Duke), T.J. McConnell (Arizona), and Boatright tied for the smallest hands at the combine, at 7½ inches. Arkansas guard Michael Qualls’s 4 percent body fat was the lowest, and Kentucky center Dakari Johnson’s 14.9 percent was the highest.