5:20 p.m. Update:
Closing remarks from today's Big Apple action.
• I really think that Robinson believes he's going No. 2. And I really believe that he thinks he should go there. In reality, he seems to believe that he should go No. 1, but that's not because he doesn't like Anthony Davis. After spending some time around the two this afternoon, it's quite clear that they're good friends and that Robinson has the utmost respect for Davis.
• One other note regarding Davis... People always talk about how skinny he is and how he needs to add weight. That's true, but that's almost entirely on his upper body. His legs are thick and strong and once he adds to his arms and shoulders he could be an absolute force. I believed this about him when I covered UK in New Orleans and I believe it even more now — Davis is a genuinely good dude.
• One of the most impressive players here today was Bradley Beal. So much confidence, so much charisma. The guy's a star in the making, and I'm not surprised at all that he's about to be picked in the Top 3.
• A good chunk of today was spent around three — count 'em, THREE — North Carolina players in John Henson, Tyler Zeller and Harrison Barnes. All good dudes and all great players. It just reminded me how impressive KU's Elite Eight win over the Tar Heels was.
• Back to Robinson, I really think that he believes his offensive skills are going to shock some people. He obviously is known for his motor and his rebounding and he prides himself on both things. But he says he's worked really hard on his offensive game these past couple of months and he believes he has a ton of potential to be a great offensive player, too. Here's a quote that best sums it up: “I think I’m better offensively than what a lot of people think and I’ve been working very hard on my offensive game. I’m pretty sure I’m not going to get triple-teamed during my first year in the league, so I think I’ll have a chance to utilize my abilities.”
• It always comes out at this thing and Robinson did, in fact, field the video game question on Wednesday. When asked what he thought his rating should be on next year's NBA video game, Robinson's answer was classic: “I came off a pretty good college season so I hope they at least give me mid-70s. It doesn’t matter, though, because I’m just gonna edit it anyway.”
That's about it for today. The players will move on to pre-draft meals and more meetings with agents and endorsements and I'll retire to my hotel to bang out tomorrow's story, edit some photos and head out to a fantastic birthday dinner.
Barring some mid-day trades, things won't get going tomorrow until mid-to-late afternoon, but I'll be heading out to the Prudential Center around 4:00 (3:00 CST) to get set up for the evening.
Until then.... thanks for checking out the blog!
2:55 p.m. Update: By Jesse Newell
Also, here are a few photos from Matt from the event:
2:24 p.m. Update: By Jesse Newell
2:06 p.m. Update: By Jesse Newell
Here are a few photos from Matt today:
12:58 p.m. Update:
Just got done with interviews with Thomas Robinson. He was great. Very loose, very funny, very excited.
I shot a ton of videos of some of Robinson's best answers and Jesse's working hard to get them on the site as I type this. We've had some issues with the site during the past couple of days so bear with us.
Here's a quick recap of what Robinson had to say:
• Which NBA player is he most looking forward to facing off against?
Two answers, here. He first listed Kevin Garnett because he's old school and he admires KG's effort and passion. Next up, he said Amare Stoudemire because he would like to do battle with a guy who has a similar build. Robinson also was asked about being a bulkier forward instead of the taller, more slender guys that seem to dominate the college game today. His answer was priceless: "Hopefully I've got these for something," he said about his muscles.
• On his recent comments about Kentucky center Anthony Davis, the likely No. 1 pick in the draft:
"If you thought I was serious, I was serious. If you thought I was kidding, I was kidding." Robinson did not seem to like the few questions he got about Davis today and chose to take the high road and not answer most of them. He handled himself well in that regard.
• On if being the No. 1 or No. 2 pick matters?
Robinson said he didn't think there was much of a difference between the first and the second pick or the first and the fifth pick. All of the guys in the draft can play and he just wants to be on the right team.
• On his workouts:
Robinson worked out with only three teams — Cleveland, Washington and Charlotte and said two of the three went well and one of them went great. The latter was Charlotte, which owns the No. 2 pick and may very well be looking at taking Robinson there. Robinson said he'd be happy in Charlotte but also added that he had no clue as to what was going to happen. The biggest reason? All of the trades that have happened or could happen. "Our agents don't even know what's going to happen," Robinson said, "So you can imagine how we feel."
• On who will be in the Green Room at Thursday's Draft with him:
His sister Jayla, her father, his agent, his best friend from Washington D.C. and Angel Morris, the mother of Markieff and Marcus Morris, who promised Lisa Robinson, Thomas' late mother, that she would take care of him after Lisa was gone. During the interview session, Angel and Jayla were shopping on 5th Avenue and Robinson said his little sister was handling all of the attention and exposure for her big brother just great because she was loving the shopping. Although they won't be at the table with him, Markieff and Marcus also are in NYC to support Robinson. Both KU coach Bill Self and former KU assistant Danny Manning were unable to make the trip.
Headed over to an NBA Cares event on the west side. Hopefully we'll have the video clips from Robinson's interviews up soon. In addition, I'll try to get some stuff from the club.
Stay tuned for more....
Original post: By Matt Tait
For the third year in a row, fans of the Kansas University men’s basketball program have a rather compelling reason to tune into the annual NBA Draft — two of them actually.
Although it’s unlikely that former Jayhawks Thomas Robinson and Tyshawn Taylor will become the third consecutive pair of former KU stars to be drafted with back-to-back picks — Cole Aldrich and Xavier Henry were picked 11th and 12th, respectively in 2010 and twin brothers Markieff and Marcus Morris went 13th and 14th, respectively last year — it seems safe to say both will be picked.
What’s more, it seems possible — perhaps even likely — that Robinson, a first-team All-American and runner-up in most national player of the year votes, will become the second highest Jayhawk draftee in school history, behind only Danny Manning, who went first in the 1988 draft.
A decade later, the Denver Nuggets picked Raef LaFrentz with the No. 3 pick in the 1998 Draft, and, in 2002, Memphis made Drew Gooden the fourth overall selection.
Robinson, it has been rumored, could go as high as No. 2 to Charlotte, one spot behind Kentucky’s Anthony Davis, who is all but guaranteed to be the top pick.
The way things look today — and, remember, it’s the Draft so things could change A LOT between now and Thursday night — Robinson appears to be the pick for Charlotte as long as the Bobcats keep their selection. If they trade out of it, which is a distinct and increasing possibility, Robinson may drop a couple of spots, but most believe he’ll be at least a Top 5 pick no matter what.
Taylor’s draft prospects are a lot more uncertain, as most scouts and analysts I’ve talked to see him going anywhere between 22 and 42. People seem to be split on whether Taylor is a first-round guy or not and there are even those out there who believe he might not be drafted at all.
From where I sit, based on who I’ve talked to, that would be nuts. It seems clear that he’ll be picked and my gut tells me it’ll be closer to 30 (on either side) than 40.
Time will tell, but in order to help us get to that point, here’s a quick look at what’s in store for the day. As has been the case during each of the past two drafts, I am on the ground out here in New York and I’ll be spending time with Robinson and Taylor throughout the day.
As a sure-fire lottery pick, Robinson has a lengthy list of NBA-affiliated obligations today, including a media session from 11:30 to 12:30 (central time), an NBA Cares event with a Boys and Girls Club and a rookie initiation hosted by the league. That’s to say nothing about endorsement opportunities that his agent set up and all of the photo and video shoots for draft night and various video games. It’s a crazy day every year and I’ll try to tag along for as much of it as I can.
In addition, I hope to spend some time with Taylor — either in the city or back in his neighborhood in New Jersey — and also have lined up a few interviews with people from Taylor’s past, who watched him grow up dreaming of this moment.
Stay tuned to the blog throughout the day for video clips and photos from the Big Apple. Naturally, I’ll also be live at the draft on Thursday night, blogging the picks and getting Robinson’s reaction right after he’s selected.
I’ll be pounding the pavement and hopping onto trains and into cabs a lot throughout the day, so getting to the computer could be a challenge at times. Jesse Newell will be back at the office helping me get the videos and photos posted to the blog. So be sure to check in often for updates.
In addition, I’ll be using my Twitter account — follow me here — to provide updates while on the go.
As always, it should be a blast of a day and I’m hopeful that it will deliver some great stuff.
Before, we get to it, here’s a quick look at some other notable Jayhawks who were selected in the first round of previous drafts. In all, KU has produced 27 first-round picks, including 11 since 2002: Paul Pierce (10th) in 1998, Kirk Hinrich (7th) and Nick Collison (12th) in 2003, Julian Wright (13th) in 2007, and Brandon Rush (13th) in 2008, along with old-school standouts Clyde Lovellette (9th) in 1952, Wilt Chamberlain in 1958, Wayne Hightower (5th) in 1962, Walt Wesley (6th) in 1966, JoJo White (9th) in 1969, Bud Stallworth (7th) in 1972, Norm Cook (16th) in 1976, and Darnell Valentine (16th) in 1981.