G League Elite Camp Wrap

AJ Lawson
A terrific all-around performance at the Elite Camp earned South Carolina's A.J. Lawson an invitation to the 2021 NBA Combine. (Photo courtesy of South Carolina Athletics)

Last week, the NBA G League Elite Camp welcomed 40-plus NBA draft prospects to Wintrust Arena in Chicago for the opportunity to play in front of NBA scouts and executives with the hopes of improving their stock for the 2021 NBA Draft.  The players, most of whom are second-round prospects, also took part in a series of anthropometric and athletic measurements. The composite box score and the results of the tests and measurements at the Elite Camp can be found below.   

Top Performers on the Court

Four teams of ten players each played two games, and some stood out more than others.  Similar to player efficiency rating (PER), we measured the players’ total productivity and efficiency on a per-40 minute basis (TPE).  The positive stats weighted and tallied were field goals made, threes made, free throws made, assists, rebounds, steals, and blocks, while points were subtracted for shots missed, free throws missed, turnovers, and personal fouls.

The top performer of the camp based on our metrics was Dalano Banton with a score of 24.7. Banton is a 6-foot-9, 21-year old point guard from the University of Nebraska, who transferred from Western Kentucky and sat out the 2019-2020 season due to transfer rules. Despite only shooting 4-of-13 from the field and 0-of-6 from deep, he led all players in the camp with 21 total rebounds and nine assists while only committing two turnovers.  Blanton has the option to return to Nebraska, and I expect him to return to school due to his scoring/shooting deficiencies.  

The next best performer of the camp was Dawson Garcia, a six-feet, ten-inch forward from Marquette. He posted a TPE per 40 of 23.5 and led all prospects with 14 made field goals and 34 points combined in both games. He also scored with efficiency, shooting 60 percent from the field. Overall, Garcia shot the ball well in his only season with Marquette, shooting 48 percent from the field and 35.6 percent on three-pointers, but he was plagued by inconsistency. Also, Garcia measured with a wingspan of just six-feet ten-and-three-quarter inches, and he performed poorly in the athletic testing portion of the event.  

Several days after the Elite Camp, Garcia announced that he was entering the transfer portal while remaining in the draft and leaving the door open to return to Marquette.  Still 19 years old, it would appear that he is leaning toward returning to school, which is likely the wise course of action.  

Taking home the bronze medal for the best TPE per 40 at 22.3 was A.J. Lawson, a six-foot, six-inch, 178-pound wing from the University of South Carolina. He was a consistent performer in both games, making 42.1 percent of his shots, tying for first with four made threes, and totaling 16 rebounds.  He also was one of the top performers in the athletic testing, finishing with the second best standing vertical (33 inches), max vertical (41 inches), and 3-quarter-court sprint time (2.98). Lawson, who was a 2019 and 2020 early entrant for the NBA Draft, earned an invite to the 2021 NBA Combine for his efforts at the Elite Camp.  

Composite Box Score

Combine Invites

Four Elite Camp participants were invited to the NBA combine: A.J. Lawson (mentioned above), Carlik Jones, Aaron Wiggins, and Duane Washington Jr.

Carlik Jones had an excellent first game, putting up 23 points on 8-of-10 shooting, including hitting the one three-pointer that he attempted to go along with four rebounds and three assists. He struggled in the second game, though, scoring eight points on 3-of-13 shooting. Overall he produced the eighth best TPE per 40 (17.6).  He is on the older end for a prospect at 23-years-old, and is on the small side for a point guard (6’1’’), but he showed he could compete with high-caliber talent during his senior season at Louisville, averaging 16.7 points, five rebounds, and 4.4 assists while garnering an AP All-American Honorable Mention and ACC All-First Team. Jones spent the first four seasons (redshirted his freshman year) of his college career at Radford.

Duane Washington Jr., a six-foot, three-inch, 197-pound guard from Ohio State, had a solid all-around camp. He was second in made field goals with twelve and tied for first with four three-pointers made. Despite his TPE per 40 of 10.2 being below average (due to a high number of missed shots), he led all players in plus/minus at +27. He looked very comfortable on the floor, and was not shy about shooting.  At Ohio State, he proved to be a dynamic scorer off the bounce, and that carried over to the Elite Camp. It also helps that he is an above-average athlete, and boasts a plus-five-inch wingspan.

Maryland’s Aaron Wiggins likely has the best chance among the group invited to the Combine to be drafted.  A 6-foot-5 wing with a 6-foot-10 wingspan and very good overall athleticism, Wiggins was very efficient in the two Elite Camp games, finishing with shooting splits of .588/.500/.750.  Read more on the Terrapin junior below.  

Anthropometric Measurements

Anthropometric Measurements
2021 Elite Camp Anthropometric Measurements, courtesy of the NBA G League.

Other Notes

One of the more well known players at the event was Mac McClung from Texas Tech.  He had a TPE per 40 of 15.2, which was above average. If you have social media, you have probably seen some of his gravity-defying dunks, and if not, educate yourself. With that being said, McClung had the highest standing vertical at 36 inches as well as the highest max vertical at 43.5 inches and best sprint time (2.935). However, the 21-year-old junior is limited by a lack of size and length (6’2’’ height and wingspan), and lacks ideal playmaking skills for a player his size, finishing this past season with an assist-turnover ratio of 1.15.  

Memphis center Moussa Cisse quietly had a good camp as well. He’s only 18 years old and stands at six-feet, eleven-inches, but he’s on the slimmer side at 215 pounds. He also has a 7-foot-5 wingspan to go along with verticals of 31.5 inches (standing) and 38 inches (max), which has the potential to be a lethal combination around the basket.  Cisse had the ninth highest TPE per 40 at 17.3 and had a plus/minus of +22, along with the second most blocked shots with four, three of which came in his second game. But what I found most impressive was in the second game where Cisse held his own while defending Kofi Cockburn, who has an 80-plus-pound weight advantage. A couple things to also note: he went 0-of-3 from the free throw line, and his offensive game is still very raw, as he is mainly limited to putbacks and cuts to the rim, but an interesting prospect nonetheless. 

E.J. Onu was a very interesting player in this camp. This past season, the 21-year-old center led Shawnee State to a 31-2 record and the NAIA National Championship in a 74-68 victory over Lewis-Clark State College.  Over the past two seasons, he has been a shot-blocking machine, averaging 5.7 blocks per game, which was greater than his rebounding average of 5.6 per game over the same span. He also made 40 percent of his threes as a senior on 3.9 attempts per game — talk about a two-way threat. He also has a solid NBA frame at six-feet, ten-inches, and 232 pounds, with a body fat percentage of 6.5. Oh, and did I mention his plus-11-inch wingspan? Onu led all prospects with six blocks, recording three in each Elite Camp game.

Orlando Robinson Jr., a six-foot, ten-inch, 240-pound center from Fresno State had himself a solid two games as well. He compiled a TPE per 40 of 22.0, which ranked fourth. None of his camp statistics really jump off the page, but he was efficient shooting the ball, going 5-of-10 from the field, 2-for-2 from three-point land, and 7-of-8 from the free throw line. Robinson has a nine-foot, two-inch standing reach as well as a plus-six-inch wingspan.  He features a smooth jump shot and solid passing skills, but he is not overly athletic.  

Athletic Testing Results

Athletic Testing
Elite Camp Athletic Testing Results, courtesy of the NBA G League.

Richard Harris’ Notes

Harris, Hoops Prospects’ Managing Director and Senior Writer/Editor, had the opportunity to sit down and talk with six prospects at the Elite Camp: Kofi Cockburn, Hunter Dickinson, E.J. Liddell, Aamir Simms, Mike Smith, and Aaron Wiggins.  He actually intended to talk with two international players as well, Juhann Begarin and Haowen Guo, but that was not possible.  Here are his notes on all eight players.  

Kofi Cockburn — The mammoth Illinois big man was fun to talk with; he’s confident but not so much so that he’s not willing to recognize his limitations.  A force around the basket, Cockburn has an NBA-ready body, but there are concerns about his ability to defend and make shots on the perimeter.  The 21-year-old, 7-foot center flashed the ability to move his feet in game action at the camp, but he knows that this is something that he must continue to work on.  Cockburn is confident that he can consistently make shots out to 15 feet, but in the two camp games, he did very little away from the basket and continued to struggle at the free-throw line (2 of 7).  

Cockburn is in the draft to stay, and his size and strength will make him a tempting option near the end of the second round.  During the June 20 interview, he said that he worked out for only the Celtics, but he had “seven or eight” workouts scheduled for the future.

Hunter Dickinson — The Michigan center has the option to return to school, and he gave me an honest answer about what it would take for him to remain in the 2021, saying that he is only interested in being an early second-round pick or better.  Dickinson, who looked trimmer since his freshman season ended, had his ups and downs in game action.  He failed to dispel concerns about his outside shot, making a combined 1-for-5 from the free-throw and 3-point lines, and he performed poorly in the athletic testing portion of the event.  I still believe that Dickison has a great deal of upside, but we will likely see him in a Michigan uniform for at least one more season.     

E.J. Liddell — An undersized four/five, the 6-foot-6 Liddell has the option to return to Ohio State, and after a somewhat disappointing performance at the Elite Camp, including a combined 2-of-9 from the floor, I expect that he will return to school.  I asked Liddell if he was working on his ability to shoot off the dribble, an aspect of his game that is lacking, but he said that he’s committed to playing the role of a stretch four or a small-ball five, and is focusing on his spot-up skills.  Featuring a plus-six wingspan and vertical explosiveness (32.5’’ standing), he consistently displayed the ability to defend much bigger players at this event and in the Big Ten.  

Aamir Simms — The muscular 6-foot-8 senior was mostly used at the five spot at Clemson, but he envisions himself being a versatile forward at the pro level, playing more on the perimeter.  He said that his game would compare favorably to that of the Nets’ Jeff Green, and I agreed that was a good comparison.  Simms was a solid performer at the camp, making 10 of 16 shots, including 3-of-6 from deep, and totaling 26 points, ten boards, and four assists in two games.  He showed some of the perimeter ability needed to be a Green-like player, and he also displayed leadership and communication skills that were often seen from him at Clemson.  On the downside, he didn’t fare very well during the athletic testing portion of the event.  Simms, who is in this draft to stay and doesn’t seem daunted by the fact that he is unlikely to be drafted, will likely begin his pro career in the G League.  

Mike Smith — The 5-foot-10 Michigan point guard is known for his intelligence and efficiency as both a shooter and a passer.  In the two games, he shot well from deep (4 of 7), but had as many turnovers as assists (five).  A lack of size and length are huge factors working against him, and his average athleticism doesn’t help matters.  Smith realizes that the odds are against him in terms of being drafted, but he welcomes the opportunity to prove himself in either the G League or Europe.   

Aaron Wiggins — Performing well in all facets of this event, Wiggins was invited to the NBA Combine.  This past season, the 22-year-old wing excelled in transition and via derived offense (catch and shoot, cuts, …), but the Maryland product told me that he is working on being more than a 3-and-D player, focusing on improving his ball handling, shooting off the bounce, and making reads off screens.  Wiggins has the option to return to school, and I’d say the odds of that happening are 50-50.   

Juhann Begarin — The 18-year-old combo guard played for Paris in the French second division  (LNB Pro B) this past season.  He came into this event known for his athleticism and advanced skill for his age, but the youngster had an underwhelming camp.  He measured at 6’5’’ with a plus-7 wingspan, and he definitely is more physically developed than your average 18-year-old prospect.  At the same time, his performance in the athletic testing did not meet expectations, and he lacked efficiency in game action, making just 4-of-11 from the field and committing six turnovers.  It should be noted that the young man is not fluent in English, and it had to be very difficult for him to be under such pressure to perform so far from home.  Personally, I am still a big believer in Begarin’s potential, but it might be wise for him to wait one more year.  

Haowen Guo — Guo was also very far from home.  This was my first opportunity to see him in live action, and I was not overly impressed.  The 6-foot-8 Chinese prospect is solid in terms of speed and quickness, and he has point forward potential; however, he struggled mightily in the two camp games, making just two of ten shots, with no assists and four turnovers.  It was clear that he must tighten his handle, and learn to not force the action.  Also, Guo measured with a net-zero wingspan, and displayed little vertical pop.  

Sources, Credits, and Acknowledgements:  Stats used in our reports come from Synergy Sports Technology, RealGM.com, and Sports-Reference.com.  Elite Camp box scores, measurements, and test results were courtesy of the NBA G League.


  • Bobby Zeffero

    Bobby is currently a senior journalism major at Michigan State University, pursuing minors in sports journalism and broadcast journalism. He is currently an intern at HoopsProspects.com, working as a writer, researcher, and analyst. He loves the game of basketball and wants to become a play-by-play announcer, scout, analyst or podcaster covering NBA or college basketball after he has graduated.

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  • Richard C. Harris

    Richard has worked as a sports writer/editor/scout/analyst since 1998. He has been credentialed for a variety of special events and games by the NBA, the NFL, the G League, and numerous college athletic programs and conferences. He has contributed to various magazines, radio shows, and a number of other sites, including ESPN.com, SI.com, and USAToday.com. Richard is the former CEO of FantasyFootballExperts.com and a former member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA). An active member of the US Basketball Writers Association (USBWA), Rich is currently the Managing Director at Hoops Prospects, a site that specializes in evaluating potential pro basketball talent. Follow on Twitter @HoopsProspects.

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