MINNEAPOLIS - If the NBA Draft Combine happens in August, it will have plenty of Minnesota flavor as former college players look to put on a show in front of NBA scouts and front office personnel.
Originally scheduled for May 21-24 in Chicago, the NBA Draft Combine had to be postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The hope is for the combine to take place in late August, sometime after the Aug. 20 draft lottery. For now, the NBA Draft is scheduled for Oct. 16.
The draft combine is a multi-day event, similar to the NFL Combine, where prospects workout and put down measurements in the hopes of catching the eye of an NBA team. The Minnesota names that have been invited include Daniel Oturu, Tre Jones, Tyrell Terry and Zeke Nnaji. Here’s a look at all four.
Oturu played two seasons for Richard Pitino and the Gophers, and became the program’s first All-American in 21 years after being named by the Sporting News. The Woodbury native and former Cretin-Derham Hall star was a Second Team All-Big Ten pick after averaging 20.1 points, 11.3 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game. He led the Big Ten in scoring, was second in the league in rebounding and was the only player in the NCAA last season to average at least 20 points and 11 rebounds per game. His 18 double-doubles were second in the Big Ten and seventh in college basketball.
Oturu announced shortly after the season he was leaving the program to enter the NBA Draft. He’s on track to be a first-round pick, which would be the Gophers’ first since Kris Humphries in 2004.
Tre Jones got an invite to the NBA Combine after being named the ACC Player of the Year, First Team All-ACC and the Defensive Player of the Year last season. He started all 29 games Duke played last season, and the Apple Valley native averaged 16.2 points, 6.4 assists and 4.2 rebounds per game. He was sixth in the ACC in scoring, second in assists and fourth in assist-to-turnover ratio. Jones was a consensus All-American, a semifinalist for the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year and was named to the final ballot for the John R. Wooden Award, which goes every year to the top player in college basketball.
Jones could be a late first round or early second round pick.
Minneapolis native and former DeLaSalle star Tyrell Terry got an invite to the NBA Combine after a single standout season at Stanford. Terry started 31 games at point guard for the Cardinal, averaging 14.6 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game while shooting 44.1 percent from the field. He also shot 89 percent from the free throw line. He was named to the Pac-12 All-Freshman Team, and earned Pac-12 Honorable Mention honors.
Former Hopkins star Zeke Nnaji will go to the NBA Draft Combine after one standout season at Arizona. Nnaji was named the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year and First Team All-Pac-12 after averaging 16.1 points and 8.6 rebounds per game for the Wildcats, while shooting 57 percent from the field. The 6-11, 240-pound forward is a fringe lottery pick, and of the four Minnesota names at the draft combine, he’s likely to be drafted first.
Regardless of when they get picked, the NBA Draft will be a life-changing night for Oturu, Jones, Terry and Nnaji.