Before each game of the Tennessee basketball season, I would take my seat in the media section on the opposing team baseline. For the majority of those games, I sat beside a vacant seat.
During some of the higher profile games, an NBA scout would wander over to that seat and ask if he could claim it for the game (the scout seating in Thompson Boling is not the best). I would tell him he could and he would sit down with his folder, a box of popcorn, and multiple cell phones laid out on the table.
During the games, the scout would primarily chart every move that Admiral Schofield and Grant Williams made each and every time they caught the ball.
In the few games that he attended, I would chat him up and try to pick his brain about his thoughts on UT’s stars. He shared, but under one condition… anonymity.
Here are some of the questions and answers from those conversations to give a little insight into what these scouts are watching at this week’s combine.
Q: What do you want to see Grant Williams improve on?
A: He really needs to spread the floor better. As it stands right now, I don’t think he is that great of a perimeter defender. That’s what I want to see from him the most is improvement on his outside game. Not only on defense, but offensive improvement wouldn’t hurt either.
Q: Is he a first rounder?
A: I don’t know. He sits on that fringe between one and two for me. I think he will end up going in the first round though. He needs to find his niche. There are some teams making a blatant effort to trend their team smaller so I think one of those teams will jump on him and he’ll fit well if goes to one of them.
During the rest of our conversation he continued to go back to his concern about Williams perimeter defense. In his mind, that is the one aspect that will make or break Grant Williams.
Q: What is holding Admiral back from being a top tier talent?
A: He needs to be bouncier and a little more athletic.
Q: What do you think about his game as a whole?
A: I’m really not sure and I think a lot of people are like that. I need to get a better understanding of how his fundamentals work with his size. The way he plays doesn’t necessarily seem to fit his body.
Q: What do you like about Admiral?
A: I love that he stayed for his senior season.
This answer led to a ten-minute rant about this particular scout’s distain for one-and-done players and he strayed away from talking about Admiral.
Q: What stands out about Bone?
A: He plays hard as s***! I love that.
Q: Is that it?
A: For now, yes because I haven’t watched him enough tonight? You know who I have started watching though? That number 23 (Jordan Bowden). He’s long and athletic and can shoot it.
I noticed after this remark that the scout began charting every move that Jordan Bowden would make for the rest of the night.
This week at the NBA combine scouts will wrap up their assessments of players. Grant Williams and Jordan Bone have until May 29 to decide whether or not they will return for their senior season. Williams has already said he will make his decision this Saturday. As for Bone, a return doesn’t seem hopeful.
Tennessee basketball coach Rick Barnes said PG Jordan Bone entered NBA draft with `intention to stay there.’ Asked during interview Wednesday on WMNL radio if Barnes didn’t expect Bone to return, Barnes said: `We felt that all along.’
— Jimmy Hyams (@JimmyHyams) May 15, 2019