Gonzaga's Clarke stands out, Tacko stands tall at NBA Draft Combine

Gonzaga's Clarke stands out, Tacko stands tall at NBA Draft Combine
By Reuters

18/05/2019 at 00:17Updated 18/05/2019 at 00:19

CHICAGO -- Brandon Clarke was viewed as a bit of an enigma entering the 2019 NBA Draft Combine.

There was no doubting the Gonzaga forward's skill set at the combine, which
wrapped up Friday evening after two days at Quest Multisport near United
Center.

Clarke, who averaged 16.9 points and 8.6 rebounds and led the team with 117
blocked shots at Gonzaga last season, finished first among frontcourt players
with a 40 1/2-inch max vertical and was top two at his position in lane
agility and standing vertical.

Standing 6-foot-8 and with a wingspan of around 6-foot-8, Clark is considered
a sure thing defensively.

The lingering question is whether he can shoot consistently enough to make it
at the next level.

"I've worked really hard on my shot," Clarke said. "Pull up threes. Isolation.
It's been coming along great. It's just going to get better and better."

Clarke, 22, met with 15 teams in Chicago and was particularly jazzed about a
sitdown with his hometown team, the Phoenix Suns. The Suns pick sixth, and
general manager James Jones said the more intimate workout and interview at
team headquarters is always the most important.

Clarke is currently projected as a lottery pick but understands his final
standing will be determined by private team workouts starting next week.

"I wasn't very nervous," Clarke said, adding that he views Shawn Marion as a
decent player comparison. "Just putting my best foot forward. I feel like I
could fit with almost every NBA team."

Clarke did not play in the full-court, five-on-five games Thursday or Friday,
but Gonzaga teammate Zach Norvell Jr. got the experience of playing with Larry
Bird courtside. He didn't let the opportunity slip away, scoring 18 points
while taking on a team that included Virginia guard Kyle Guy and Auburn point
guard Jared Harper.

THIRD FIDDLE

The only member of Duke's outgoing freshman class to stick around to meet the
media at the combine was Cam Reddish, who also is a projected lottery pick
behind Zion Williamson and RJ Barrett. Williamson is projected to be the first
player drafted, while Reddish could be selected third to the New York Knicks.

Reddish said he "absolutely" has chip on his shoulder and has something to
prove, but he felt it was valuable to show NBA teams he learned how to share
the spotlight.

"They're two of the best players out there, they're phenomenal," Reddish said.
"We all wanted to get better. That was the ultimate goal."

Reddish said he's been told he needs to be more consistent and work on his
body.

"I'm extremely confident right now," Reddish said. "I'm extremely happy for
them, too. They're great guys. I'm sure they'll get what they deserve."

TACKO TIME

Tacko Fall is used to being a head-turner at 7-foot-6, but the UCF center is
getting positive attention at the combine this week. The thing is, he has
something you can't teach.

"I don't think I'm going to keep growing, but we'll see," Fall said. "For
people my size, the biggest thing they're looking for is: Can he move? Can he
guard? Can he get up and down the floor?"

Fall's wingspan was measured at 8-foot-2 1/4 -- yes, he can dunk flatfooted --
but he was not an aggressive presence in five-on-five Friday during the final
game of the afternoon session.

Fall appeared overwhelmed by the moment at times, going an entire 10-minute
pregame warmup session without attempting a shot while glaring toward the
bleachers full of scouts and coaches.

"I thank God that I'm in this position. I'm blessed to be here," Fall said.
"I'm doing everything that I need to do."

ANOTHER LUKA

Croatian teen Luka Samanic could be the top international prospect in 2019,
but he is not yet certain he will remain in the draft even though buzz around
his status has been largely positive. He said the most important thing for him
is going to the right organization, not being drafted at the top of the first
round.

"Guys are bigger, much more physical. That's one of the problems," said
Samanic, measured at 6-9 1/2 barefoot in Chicago and officially weighed in at
227 pounds. "I'm playing as a power forward. There are some big boys here,
also in the NBA. Just fighting and not backing down."

Samanic said he went from 208 to 230 pounds during the course of the past
season with Petrol Olimpija of the Slovenian League and ABA League.

Samanic, who doesn't turn 20 until January, moved well in five-on-five games
in Chicago, with ball-handling skills that imply his ceiling hasn't been met.

He scored 13 points with seven boards on Thursday before deciding he was
satisfied with his showing and didn't need to play Friday.

--By Jeff Reynolds, Field Level Media

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