Bulls

Bulls' Robinson has Seattle reunion vs. Wolves

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Bulls' Robinson has Seattle reunion vs. Wolves

On one hand, Timberwolves point guard Will Conroy, a journeyman hoping to make Minnesotas roster, isnt at those Berto Center practices, so he doesnt know the wrath of Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau.

On the other hand, hes known Nate Robinson since their pre-teen days and played alongside him at the University of Washington.

I think Nates smart enough to figure it out. One thing I know about Nate is Nates going to be Nate. Thats the reason why hes in the position hes in, being successful in the NBA. Sometimes they say what your strength is also your weakness, Conroy told CSNChicago.com, referencing, in part, his fellow Seattle natives off-the-backboard alley-oop in the Bulls win Tuesday over Milwaukee.

Hes smart enough to adapt to where he knows, Okay, I need to get on the floor. Im not going to do that, and when youre successful at a high rate, coaches are going to allow it. I think the play was completed and Jimmy Butler finished it with a dunk, right? So it didnt look bad on SportsCenter.

Conroy has known Robinson since the diminutive freak athlete was making a name in the sport that he was awarded a scholarship to college for... football.

He played for the rival team of my little league football team, so Ive kind of known Nate since we were in middle school, Conroy said of Robinson, who was a freshman starter at defensive back for Washington before giving up the sport to play basketball on a full-time basis, and whose father, Jacques, was an NFL player.

Just like Darren Sproles. Hes the same kind of talent. Nate, hes one of those guys, when he gets the ball in his hands, its so hard to bring him down. Watching him play football, he scored like six or seven touchdowns in a high school game. He was one of those guys, when the ball gets in his hands, hes going to make something special happen.

When Conroy and Robinson played together at Washington, Conroy was the Huskies point guard and Timberwolves starting shooting guard Brandon Roy, also shared some of the ballhandling duties. Robinson was mostly deployed as a scorer, something hes known as in the NBA, but Conroy, a traditional playmaker whos excelled in the D-League but has yet to find a permanent NBA home, thinks his former teammate has made a lot of progress.

Hes made great adjustments. Hes matured so much at the point-guard position. I thought it started a lot when he went to Boston and kind of continued on when he was in Golden State, and I watched him play when he played us in Minnesota last week, he observed. Hes really starting to understand the position, and pick and choose when to get his, and look for other guys continuously. Ive thought, so far, hes done a great job in transitioning to being a true point guard.

Friday was a bit of Seattle and Washington reunion, as Robinson and Conroy guarded each other for a stretch, with Roy also on the court.

All Seattle people are a close-knit group. We all worked out in the summertime together and we all root for each other, said Conroy. When we see each other doing well, it just gives Seattle a bright spot.

The next preps-to-pros leaper, Anfernee Simons confident 'I'll be able to make this jump'

The next preps-to-pros leaper, Anfernee Simons confident 'I'll be able to make this jump'

Anfernee Simons looks more like a ball boy than a 2018 NBA Draft prospect right now. He’s not considered small, what with having a 6-foot-3 frame with a massive 6-foot-9 wingspan, and he weighed in at last week’s NBA Draft Combine at 183 pounds, “heavier” than Lottery-bound guards like Trae Young, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Collin Sexton.

But there’s plenty of potential to unpack from the soon-to-be 19-year-old, baby-faced combo guard. Don’t let the appearance fool you. Simons is one of the most talented players in the class, and a team patient enough to let him develop at his own pace could reap major benefits in due time.

You won’t find much video on Simons, as the IMG Academy star is preparing to be the first prospect to go preps-to-pros without a year in college since Thon Maker did so in 2016.

Simons, a consensus five-star recruit in the 2018 class, originally committed to Louisville in November 2016 and then decommitted the following September shortly after Rick Pitino was fired. Since he had graduated from Edgewater High School in Florida and was playing a post-grad year at IMG Academy, he became eligible for the 2018 NBA Draft because he is a year removed from high school. That’s where he played this past season, declaring for the draft and signing with an agent in late March.

“The opportunity is there. Me and my parents talked about it a lot and I feel like I’m confident in myself that I’ll be able to make this jump,” he said at last week’s Combine. “So I just felt like, do it now and not waste any time.”

Simons has been on the radars of NBA teams, even if he’s not a household name like Ayton, Doncic and Bagley. He’s currently projected outside of the Lottery, in part because teams haven’t seen him compete against collegiate level talent and because his wiry frame almost surely means time in the G-League as a rookie. But again, the skill set is there.

Simons is a point guard with solid range beyond the arc. He may struggle off the ball because of his size, though that long wingspan and a quick release from his chest should allow him to get off shots. He’s a blur in transition and finishes well at the rim – his 41.5-inch vertical was tied for third best at the Combine, and his three-quarters court sprint was eighth fastest.

He’s a mixed bag defensively. Wingspan is the fun buzz word these days, and that will help him at the next level, but his small frame means there’s work to be done. A strength and conditioning coach will salivate at bringing Simons into the weight room and getting his body NBA-ready.

“Just staying durable through 82 games,” Simons answered when asked about his biggest challenge physically at the next level. “Taking care of your body is real pivotal so I feel like learning how to take care of my body now is a good thing.”

Simons maturely answered that the “unknown” of his game will be both a positive and minus during the pre-draft process. While fellow prospects he may face in team workouts don’t know as much about him and, thus, his game, teams also need to find out more about Simons’ game and off-court habits.

“Coming in young, people don’t know who I am and haven’t seen me play much. That’s the good side about coming in early,” he said. “It could be the same thing (negatively). People haven’t seen me like that, so I feel like they don’t know who I am. They probably think I’m too young to play in the league.”

Simons met with the Bulls and has scheduled a pre-draft workout with them. Though the Bulls feel like their rebuild could go quicker than anticipated – especially if they hit on their No. 7 pick – there could be plenty to gain from drafting for upside on a player like Simons.

Jerian Grant and Cameron Payne will both be free agents in 2019, and Denzel Valentine’s long-term future isn’t set in stone in Chicago. That leaves plenty of openings in the backcourt behind Kris Dunn and Zach LaVine. Simons won’t be ready to contribute much in 2018-19, but the Bulls wouldn’t need him to. A handful of outlets projected Simons as a top-5 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. The Bulls could snag him a year earlier, let him develop in Hoffman Estates and bring him up in a year when they’re a step closer to contending.

Daily White Sox prospects update: Gavin Sheets hits his first homer of 2018

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Daily White Sox prospects update: Gavin Sheets hits his first homer of 2018

Here's your daily update on what the White Sox highly touted prospects are doing in the minor leagues.

Class A Winston-Salem

Gavin Sheets hit his first home run of the season in a 12-4 loss. While it's taken him this long to hit his first ball out of the park, Sheets has a .380 on-base percentage and his 24 walks make for one of the top 10 totals in the Carolina League. Blake Rutherford doubled in this one, while Sheets, Rutherford, Alex Call and Luis Alexander Basabe combined to draw five walks.

Class A Kannapolis

Luis Gonzalez and Evan Skoug each had a hit in a 9-3 win.

Triple-A Charlotte

Charlie Tilson had two hits in a 9-3 loss.