Jason Quick

Trail Blazers go young, select Anfernee Simons with 24th overall pick

Trail Blazers go young, select Anfernee Simons with 24th overall pick

One of the NBA's youngest rosters became even younger on Thursday.

The Trail Blazers drafted 19-year-old guard Anfernee Simons with the 24th overall pick on Thursday, a move that perhaps signaled earlier in the week when the Blazers flew him into Portland for a second workout. 

Simons, who last season attended the renowned IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., instead of  Louisville, is a 6-foot-4, 180-pound guard who is known for his shooting. 

Simons, who turned 19 on June 8, was taken over French guard Elie Okobo, who impressed with his shooting at his Blazers workout, and wings Khyri Thomas, Keita Bates-Diop, Jacob Evans and Dzanan Musa. 

Depth at guard was among the Blazers’ needs entering the draft. After starters Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, the Blazers have Wade Baldwin, and soon-to-be free agents Shabazz Napier and Pat Connaughton. 

The biggest question mark about Simons is his build. He is slight and in his second workout in Portland he was backed down by bigger, older guards. But Simons said he thinks he can contribute right away with his scoring. Besides guard depth, the Blazers also need shooting, and Simons is regarded as a good shooter. He made 45 percent of his three-pointers while playing for IMG Academy. 

He was originally slated to attend Louisville, but withdrew in September of 2017 after then-coach Rick Pitino was placed on administrative leave. 

He first worked out for the Blazers on June 4, then again on Tuesday. He was originally scheduled to workout for Memphis on Tuesday, but the Blazers made a late call and expressed interest. Memphis owned the 32ndpick, and the chance to workout for a first-round team swayed Simons. 

The Blazers entered the draft with the NBA's second youngest roster. 

 

Blazers finish pre-draft process with some buzz by inviting Anfernee Simons for second workout

Blazers finish pre-draft process with some buzz by inviting Anfernee Simons for second workout

The Trail Blazers on Tuesday finished their predraft workouts, but not before creating a stir with their final group.

Highlighting an otherwise non-descript group were two 19 year olds – guard Anfernee Simons, and Bosnian wing Dzanan Musa. 

The buzz was mostly created by Simons, the 19-year-old high-flying, slick-shooting guard, who cancelled a scheduled workout with Memphis in order to accept a second workout with the Blazers on Tuesday. 

“I feel like (Portland) wanted me more,’’ Simons said in explaining why he made the late switch. 

Of the 30 prospects the Blazers looked at this month, Simons is the only player to perform a second workout. The 6-foot-4 Florida native committed to Louisville, but bypassed college last season and trained at the renowned IMG Academy in Bradenton.

Simons (pronounced SIGH-Mons) said the Blazers join the Lakers (25thpick) and Orlando (35thpick) as the only teams to ask for a second workout. 

Meanwhile, Musa – a 6-foot-8 wing who played two seasons on the Bosnian national team with Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic – made the last of his six workouts on Tuesday. He says he can play both guard positions and small forward and possesses a level of passion that few, if any, prospects can claim.

Musa left his family at age 11 to attend a basketball academy for four years.. He later played professionally for four seasons.

“I have sacrificed almost everything for basketball,’’ Musa said. “I have that passion that I don’t think anyone has in my country or in this draft.’’

Musa has worked out for Denver (14thpick), San Antonio (18th), Utah (21), Indiana (23) and Brooklyn (29). The Blazers own the 24thpick.

But it was Simons’ return to Portland that created the most intrigue. 

He said the Blazers told him they liked him and wanted to see more of him, and judging from the limited availability of Tuesday’s workout, it appeared the Blazers wanted to see how he could handle himself against more physical guards. 

In his first workout on June 4, Simons went mostly against Kentucky’s Hamidou Diallo and Duke’s Trevon Duval, both fellow teenagers who are also of slight build (Simons is 6-4, 180).

On Tuesday, Simons went mostly against Arkansas senior Jaylen Barford, who at 6-3, 202 is stronger and plays more physical than what Simons went against in the first workout. 

On one play, Barford was able to back down Simons into the key before Simons caromed off his body and out of bounds as Barford scored uncontested.

“The guard play was much better, a lot more physical,’’ Simons said. “So that was kind of a challenge.’’

Simons, who turned 19 earlier in June, said he knows his strength will be an issue, but he figures that will come with time.

“Obviously, I need to get stronger, and it’s going to take time to get stronger,’’ he said. “But I felt I held my own pretty well.’’

Well enough to earn the Blazers’ trust with the 24thpick? That will be the question come Thursday. If anything, he said the Blazers showed more interest than any other team.

“A couple of teams expressed lot of interest, but (the Blazers) are different,’’ Simons said. “They interacted with me more and tried to learn more about me off the court.’’

Oregon's Troy Brown: point guard trapped inside a wing's body

Oregon's Troy Brown: point guard trapped inside a wing's body

Troy Brown Jr. on Thursday was among the latest batch of 3-and-D players to workout for the Trail Blazers, but the University of Oregon wing says he has something different than the other prospects who have passed through the Blazers’ Tualatin facility this month.

He says he is not just a shooter and defender, he can also pass like a point guard.

“I feel like a lot of guys when they say they are 3-and-D it’s offensive scoring and being a defensive player, but I feel like I bring more than that,’’ Brown said. 

The Las Vegas native, who was a 5-star recruit heading into Oregon, says he is a play-maker, which is borne from his playing point guard until his senior year in high school, when his 6-foot-7 height forced him to small forward.

“The versatility side to things,’’ Brown said, referring to how he is different than other prospects. “Being able to make plays for teammates and being that point-guard figure rather than just being a two or three.’’

The Blazers, who own the 24th pick in the June 21 draft, could use depth at the wing behind Evan Turner and Maurice Harkless, and the team seems to value extra play-makers as evidence by their 2016 free agent signing of Turner. 

In the Blazers’ first four draft workouts, the prospects have been mostly wings and guards, with nearly all the wings carrying a reputation of being able to shoot and defend. 

Owner Paul Allen has yet to attend one of the four workouts this month. Usually, Allen’s attendance is a sure sign that day’s prospects are targets to be drafted by Portland. However, on Thursday, Allen’s right-hand-man -- Bert Kolde -- made his second appearance at the workouts to see Brown and guards Josh Okogie (Georgia Tech), Landry Shamet (Wichita State) and De’Anthony Melton (Southern California). Creighton wing Khyri Thomas was also at the facility, but he did not workout for undisclosed reasons.

All told, the Blazers this month have worked out wings Keita Bates-Diop (Ohio State), Melvin Frazier (Tulane), Gary Trent Jr. (Duke), Shake Milton (SMU), Jacob Evans (Cincinnati), Bruce Brown (Miami), Donte DiVincenzo (Villanova), Anfernee Simons (IMG Academy) and Hamidou Diallo (Kentucky).

Brown, who is the first player in Oregon history to leave after one season, said he “didn’t feel great” in his workout with the Blazers, but overall he said he feels he has improved his draft stock during his workouts with 10 teams. He says he still has sessions left with Minnesota and Charlotte. 

He averaged 11.3 points, 3.2 assists and 6.2 rebounds while playing 31 minutes a game for the Ducks this season. He said he focused more on being a glue guy at Oregon, where he did the little things to help the team win. 

The NBA, he says, is more suited to showcase his all-around skills, and it’s one reason why he feels like his “stock has risen” during his workouts. 

“I feel like coming out of college there weren’t a lot of people touting me as a very good player,’’ Brown said. “I didn’t have a great year, so people didn’t think I was good at basketball, period. So just being able to show what I’m capable of doing and having that chip on my shoulder … it has definitely done a lot for me.’’

If there is one question mark around Brown’s game, it’s his outside shooting. Last season at Oregon, he went 32-for-110 (29.1 percent) from three-point range. He said his shooting has been a point of emphasis during his personal workouts.

“We all have things to work on and I feel like shooting is one of mine … along with a lot of other people,’’ Brown said.

Some things, though, come naturally, and are hard to label. That’s why Oregon teammate MiKyle McIntosh – who also worked out in Portland on Thursday – said it didn’t take long for him to know Brown had an NBA future.

“Immediately, when I saw him the first time,’’ McIntosh said. “He just had something to him. His guard skills for his size and the way he passed the ball … just how versatile. But definitely what I saw and was most impressed with at first was the way he could play defense. He has very long arms and is able to guard every position pretty much.’’

Brown has been projected to be drafted as early as 18 and nearly all mocks have him going in the first round. Where ever he goes, he says that team will be getting more than just 3’s and D. There’s passing, play-making, and smarts.

“My IQ level,’’ Brown said. “It comes from playing point guard in high school.’’

Trail Blazers bring in a wild card: Teenage guard Anfernee Simons

Trail Blazers bring in a wild card: Teenage guard Anfernee Simons

After working out for Chicago and Phoenix, teenager Anfernee Simons said his performance Monday with the Trail Blazers was his best yet. 

“I made shots, showed I could play the game, showed I could do the little things,’’ said Simons, who turns 19 on Friday. 

Simons, a 6-foot-3, 183 pound guard who did not attend college, is among the more intriguing, yet risky, first-round prospects in the June 21 NBA Draft. Mock drafts have him going as early as 18, or somewhere near where the Blazers select at No. 24.

During a brief moment the media was allowed to watch Monday, Simons had a smooth shot that he hit with ease from deep. And at the NBA Combine last month in Chicago, he recorded a 41.5 inch max vertical leap, which tied for the third highest of all prospects measured behind Villanova guard Donte DiVincenzo (42) and Georgia Tech guard Josh Okogie (42).

“I feel like I’m ready for the moment,’’ Simons said. “If all else fails, I know I can make shots.’’

He has a bright smile and an engaging personality, which has been shaped by involved parents and real-life lessons. Three of his former teammates in Florida have passed away recently, one after collapsing while playing pick-up basketball and two others who were shot. 

“I’ve learned life is too short to take anything for granted,’’ Simons said.

That philosophy was part of his bypassing college (he committed to Louisville but pulled out after coach Rick Pitino was fired) and attending the renowned IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., while taking one college course. 

“I felt like I needed to stay in the gym and workout to get better and get stronger,’’ he said.

Simons headlined the Blazers’ third day of workouts, which included six guards: Kentucky freshman Hamidou Diallo, Duke freshman Trevon Duval, SMU junior Shake Milton, Maryland-Baltimore County senior Jarius Lyles and Idaho senior and former Jefferson High standout Victor Sanders.

By the end of the workout, several Blazers watched from the sideline, including All-Star guard Damian Lillard. 

If there is a noticeable difference between Simons and other NBA guards, it’s his size. He said he was 5-foot-9 as a high school freshman and 6-foot as a sophomore before sprouting to 6-3 his junior season. He noted he wants to put on more weight, which he expects will come with time. 

“In my eyes, I feel like I can play right away. Obviously, I have to get stronger and stuff, but that can come in the season,’’ Simons said. “I feel like I can contribute right away by making shots and playing defense.’’

Simons said he has about six more teams to workout for, including the Lakers on Tuesday in Los Angeles. 

Trail Blazers eyeing Jacob Evans, who models game after Butler, Pippen

Trail Blazers eyeing Jacob Evans, who models game after Butler, Pippen

Of all the versatile, 3-and-D wings the Trail Blazers are looking at in preparation for the June 21 draft, Jacob Evans might not be the biggest name, or have the most eye-catching statistics. 

But the Cincinnati junior says his work ethic and will power, combined with his 6-foot-6 frame and plus-shooting skills, will reward a team that drafts him.

“I see myself as one of those underrated guys,’’ Evans said. “I have a lot of potential and will have an impact on a team when I get to the NBA.’’

Not surprisingly, Evans cites Jimmy Butler as one of his idols, primarily because of Butler’s path from late-first-round pick to NBA All-Star.

“He was an underdog, not a lot of hype behind his name, but there is something you can’t take away from him: his hard work and dedication to the game,’’ Evans said.

Evans is working out for teams in the No. 16-to-30 range, and Saturday’s workout with the Blazers was his second, after a visit in Phoenix, which has the 16th and  31st picks. 

“I could have shot the three better in Phoenix,’’ Evans said of his workout. “But I shot it well today.’’

Evans worked out with Miami guard Bruce Brown and Villanova guard Donte DiVincenzo, which comes one day after the Blazers looked at wings Keita Bates-Diop (Ohio State), Melvin Frazier (Tulane) and Gary Trent Jr. (Duke).

Evans averaged 13.0 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3.1 assists for Cincinnati, and shot 37.7 percent from three-point range in his three seasons, including a career-best 41.8 percent as a sophomore. In February against Central Florida the index finger on his right shooting hand was bent back. At the time, he was shooting 41 percent from three; he shot 28 percent after the injury and ended at 37 percent. His finger is still bothering him, but doctors have told him he needs two weeks of rest and it will be 100 percent. 

Still, it is his defense that he prides himself on, and again, he points to an NBA player who helped mold his style.

“My favorite player was always Kobe Bryant, but my dad always hated him because he says he doesn’t play defense,’’ Evans said. “But he made all-defense multiple times (12). He wanted me to be like Scottie Pippen. It was his favorite player because he dominated on both sides.’’

Evans notes that he fits the evolving style of NBA players: able to play multiple positions, able to switch on defense, and hit from the outside. Those types of skills are being honed at IMPACT, the Las Vegas training academy, where he is going against players like Troy Brown (Oregon), Trent, Elijah Bryant (BYU) and Marcus Foster (Creighton).

“There’s a lot of hungry dogs out there and you don’t want to be training in there with Chihuahuas, you want to be in there with the pit bulls,’’ Evans said. “That’s why I’m there.”

He said he developed his work ethic by watching his mom, Theresa Chatman-Evans, raise him and his two older brothers in a single-parent household in Louisiana. 

  “Watching her work day in and day out to provide for our family … she never had to tell me to work hard, it’s been instilled since I was little,’’ Evans said. 

It’s a work ethic that he says won’t fade once he reaches the NBA, much like Butler did in building himself into one of the premier 3-and-D players in the league. 

“I try to carry that same mindset (as Butler),’’ Evans said. “Not just because of him, but it’s because it’s who I am.’’

Notes: The Blazers on Saturday also worked out USC big man Chimezie Metu, Georgia Tech big man Ben Lammers and French guard Elie Okobo ... As the media was allowed into the gym, Blazers president of basketball operations Neil Olshey was transfixed on a run of impressive shooting from Okobo, a 6-foot-2, 20-year-old lefty who shot 41.8 percent from three-point range for the Pro A League Elan Bearnais Pau-Lacq-Orthez last season. Okobo On Saturday went around the three-point arc without missing until his final shot from the corner, much to the chagrin of Okobo and the coaches feeding him passes. 

Trail Blazers draft workouts start with a Holiday

Trail Blazers draft workouts start with a Holiday

There may have been a twinge of emotion Friday when the Trail Blazers opened their 2018 draft workouts at the team’s practice facility.

Headlining the first group of workouts was a familiar name that led to the Blazers’ playoff demise – Holiday.

Aaron Holiday, a 6-foot-1 point guard from UCLA, and the younger brother of New Orleans standout Jrue Holiday – was probably the most marquee name among the six prospects who worked out. 

Holiday said the Blazers are the fourth team he has worked out for, and judging from his previous stops – Washington (15thpick), Phoenix (16thpick) and Atlanta (19th) – the Blazers (24thpick) might be overestimating their chances at landing the Pac-12’s leading scorer from last season. 

Holiday was one of six prospects to take part in Friday’s workout, joining Duke wing Gary Trent Jr., Ohio State wing  Keita Bates-Diop, Tulane wing Melvin Frazier, Villanova guard Jalen Brunson and Louisville forward Raymond Spalding.

The night before the workout, Trent said he, Holiday and Frazier were dined by Neil Olshey, the Blazers’ president of basketball operations. 

Although Holiday is an undersized guard, and would potentially be joining a Blazers backcourt with undersized guards in Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, he said he thinks he can help. 

After all, he got an up-close viewpoint during the 2018 NBA Playoffs, when he watched his brother and the Pelicans dispatch the Blazers in four games. Holiday said he was in attendance for one of the games in the Moda Center as well as Game 3 and 4 in New Orleans.

“They are a good team, but obviously they have some missing pieces, hence to how they lost this year,’’ Holiday said. “But they are a really good team, very well coached, very well balanced, so I think they are overall pretty good.’’

He said he could envision playing alongside either of the Blazers’ accomplished guards. 

“I can play with Dame … CJ … on the court at the same time. Doesn’t matter who is out there,’’ Holiday said. “I can play off people and play off the ball as well.’’

Holiday played three seasons at UCLA, breaking out this season, when he averaged 20.3 points, 5.8 assists and 3.7 rebounds. He shot better than 41 percent from three-point range in all three seasons and finished his college career as a 42.2 percent three-point shooter. 

Plus, he is quick to note his defense, and how he prioritizes it within his overeall game.

“That’s the main point – being able to play defense,’’ Holiday said.

He was able to showcase his complete game as a junior, after spending his first two seasons playing behind Lorenzo Ball and Bryce Alford.

“The first two years I wasn’t able to have the ball in my hands … then last year I was able to run the show,’’ Holiday said. 

His brother Jrue, with sometimes unstoppable offense and smothering defense, was one of the main factors in derailing the Blazers’ season. Another older brother, Justin, also played in the NBA. It helped form a competitive household, and a character-building series of games between the siblings.

“That taught me how to be tough,’’ Holiday said of playing against his siblings. “They are bigger than me, stronger than me back in the day. My sister played (at UCLA) as well … so it taught me toughness. I didn’t win many games out there – I got a few in – but taught me to fight no matter what.’’

Miami guard Bruce Brown heads to Blazers workout fueled by a memory

Miami guard Bruce Brown heads to Blazers workout fueled by a memory

CHICAGO – When Bruce Brown, who was a standout guard at the University of Miami, visits Portland in June for a draft workout with the Trail Blazers, there is a good chance a certain memory will be fueling him.

When he was 8 and living in Boston, he remembers huddling in the kitchen with his mom and two siblings

“She didn’t have enough money to get oil for the house,’’ Brown said of his mom. “So we had to open the oven for heat and had to sit by the oven for heat. That stuck with me. I want to get her out of that situation, and (the NBA draft) is a great opportunity.’’

Brown has piqued the interest of the Blazers because of his size (6-foot-5), and his defensive skills on the perimeter, which were shelved the final two months of this season after he broke his left foot. He says the foot has been fully cleared for the past two weeks.

Brown, who averaged 11.4 points, 7.1 rebounds and 4.0 assists last season, says his versatility is his strong point and he said he has heard his game compared to that of Boston’s Marcus Smart.

“I can play both ends of the ball,’’ Brown said. “I can guard 1-through-3 and make three’s.’’

Make no mistake, though: Brown’s forte is defense. 

“I just know that’s what I do. Growing up I wasn’t the best offensive player, so I had to focus on defense and getting steals,’’ he said. “I just love getting stops and helping my team.’’

He said his focus leading up to the draft is to prove his left foot his healthy, but he said he was confident teams would see his physical strength and stamina. His 3.75 percent body fat was the lowest recorded at the NBA Combine and he said he completed 17 reps of the 185-pound bench press. 

“I definitely love the weight room,’’ Brown said. “I used to be a scrawny kid, skinny. But then I just fell in love with the weight room. I love the feeling of being sore.’’

Brown is projected to be a late first round or early second round pick. He said at the Combine that he met with Houston, the Clippers, Miami, Minnesota, Orlando, Phoenix, San Antonio, Memphis and Toronto.

He said whichever team picks him will be getting a player that knows how to stoke his own fire. It happened earlier this season, when he was slumping. He thought about what his mother told him: Never forget where you came from.

So from upscale Coral Gables, where the University of Miami resides, Brown said he drove to Miami Gardens, which more resembled his gritty Boston neighborhood.

“I took a drive there and regained that feeling of where I came from,’’ Brown said. “I couldn’t go up to Boston, but it was just a way to see where I came from, the poorness of some of the areas. It grounded me, reminded me.’’

And come June 21, those memories will surface once again.

Landry Shamet - 'the best shooter in draft' - set to workout for Blazers

Landry Shamet - 'the best shooter in draft' - set to workout for Blazers

CHICAGO – The Trail Blazers are working with the agent of Landry Shamet to arrange a predraft workout with the Wichita State guard, and when it happens it might feature the best shooter in this year’s NBA Draft.

On the eve of the NBA Combine in Chicago, agent Happy Walters tweeted a video of Shamet, proclaiming him the best shooter in the draft. 

Shamet, who averaged 14.9 points last season for the Shockers while shooting 56 percent from the field and a whopping 44.2 percent from three-point range, won’t argue.

“I feel confident about that; I will shoot with anybody,’’ Shamet said. “I feel confident in my jump shot.’’

Is he the best?

“That’s for other people to decide, whether they think I am, but I know where I think I am,’’ he said, before pausing. “Um, yeah.’’

The 6-foot-4 Shamet says he likens his game to a blend of Milwaukee’s Malcolm Brogdon, Cleveland’s George Hill, Golden State’s Klay Thompson and Portland’s CJ McCollum.

“My thing is I take bits and pieces from guys who do things really well,’’ Shamet said. “I feel like I’m a cerebral player. I’m not going to wow you with crossing people up, or doing things that a lot of guys in the limelight do. But I feel like I’m a solid player, pretty steady across the board.’’

There are two questions about Shamet: Each of his feet have been broken, and there are concerns whether he can defend at the NBA level.

Shamet says much of his conversations with teams have been about the health of his feet. He broke the fifth metatarsal in his left foot in 2015, then suffered the same injury in his right foot in 2017, after which he had surgery to insert a screw.

“I know that two foot injuries are somewhat of a red flag, but I keep stressing how good I feel,’’ Shamet said. “I’m actually proud of how I overcame those injuries. My psyche, my approach … it reconstructed how I looked at things. There would be practices I could see teammates not wanting to go through, but I would have killed to be in that position. So it taught me not to take things for granted.’’

As far as his defense, he is spending the weeks leading up to the June 21 draft training with Sacramento point guard De’Aaron Fox. 

“He is as quick as they come,’’ Shamet said of Fox. “Defense has been the biggest thing for me. I want to erase those question marks on that end that people might have.’’

But the one question people shouldn’t have, Shamet insists, is about his shooting. His AAU coach, Darin Mason, has crafted his jump shot since he was in high school. 

“He’s like my golf swing coach,’’ Shamet joked. “He’s the only voice I will listen to; I don’t want to hear it from anybody else. It’s kind of our thing.’’

He says he hasn’t quite perfected his shot but he says he is confident about it being NBA ready.

“I feel it’s something I can bring to the table immediately,’’ Shamet said. “Three-point shooting is needed everywhere. It’s a threat you have to honor, and that’s me. But I don’t want to come in and be a volume scorer or take crazy shots and stuff like that. But (three-point shooting) is the biggest thing I can contribute.’’

NBA Combine Notebook: Blazers take different approach in interviews

NBA Combine Notebook: Blazers take different approach in interviews

CHICAGO – When prospects at the NBA Combine last week were summoned to a meeting with the Trail Blazers, they were in for a surprise.

Unlike meetings with the Clippers, where waiting for them inside a hotel room was NBA legend Jerry West, or unlike meetings with the Lakers alongside Hall of Famer Magic Johnson, prospects walked into their Portland meeting to find …. Dana Sinclair.

“It was … different,’’ Duke wing Gary Trent Jr. said. 

Sinclair is a sports performance psychologist who has been working with the Blazers since 2007. When she was first hired by then-general manager Kevin Pritchard, Sinclair would sometimes convene with the team on the road. But now, she is mostly in charge of handling the Blazers pre-draft intel.

According to some of the players Sinclair interviewed last week, they were given a checklist with various character traits. After they checked what they felt applied to them, there were a serious of questions.

“It was questions like, ‘What would people describe you as?’’’ Brian Bowen said. “And ‘What would you describe yourself as?’ It was interesting. It was her getting to know me personally. I liked it.’’

After the checklist and questions, the players talked with Sinclair and discussed the results. Some of the players said she nailed their personality. 

“She was close,’’ Oregon’s Troy Brown said. “But she said she thought I was a little unsocial, and when she said that I was a little shocked. I was like, not me. Not me.’’

Bowen, the former Louisville recruit, said she nailed him. 

“She formed and said things about me that were so accurate it was crazy,’’ Bowen said. “It was eye opening.’’

Bowen said there was nothing weird about the questions and noted that Minnesota asked him the most interesting question: If you were driving and approaching a yellow light, what would you do?

WILL BLAZERS’ SHAKE?

One of the prospects the Blazers interviewed in Chicago was SMU’s Shake Milton, who notes that he has “had my fair share” of adversity in his life.

This season as a junior, he broke his right hand, forcing him to miss the season’s final 11 games. And when he was 15, his father, Myrion, died in 2012 at age 43 because of a heart issue. 

“My family was in my corner, and that’s all I needed,’’ Milton said.

A 6-foot-5 guard, Milton was the American Conference player of the year after averaging 18.0 points and 4.7 rebounds and 4.4 assists. He says he figures he will standout because of his shooting, his basketball intelligence and his defensive versatility. 

“With my length, I can guard multiple positions,’’ Milton said. “I feel like I can do anything the coach asks me to do. The way the game is going – positionless basketball – you have to be able to guard multiple positions and knock down shots.’’

Even though his father is gone, his memory lives on with Milton’s nickname. His father, during his playing days at Texas A&M was called “Milkman.” So when his son was in the womb, he started calling him Shake … as in Milkshake. 

So even though his proper name is Malik, Milton has always gone by Shake since he was born. 

IN THE GENES

One of the top scorers the Blazers appear interested in is Boston College guard Jerome Robinson, who like Milton, has a father who played collegiately. 

Jerome Sr. was a small forward who played at South Florida before a nine-year professional career overseas.

“I remember playing 1-on-1 against him when I was young and he would show no mercy,’’ Robinson said. “He was dunking and everything.’’

It wasn’t until high school that he beat his father and he says he hasn’t lost to him since. 

Lonnie Walker, a standout defender at Miami who is expected to be a lottery pick, was asked at the combine who was his toughest player to guard. He didn’t hesitate.

“Jerome Robinson,’’ Walker said. “He gave me 30 points. I have to respect a guy who gave me a whole lot of buckets like that. He is a vet. You have to pay respect when it’s due. He knows his spots, how to shoot, how to score. It was definitely a challenge.’’

 Robinson, who this season as a junior averaged 20.7 points while shooting 40.9 percent from three-point range,  has been training with Noah LaRoche, the owner of Integrity Sports and the trainer of Russell Westbrook.

Robinson says he will be defined by two traits: hard work and character.

“Nothing was given to me, not even in my own household. I will work in the dark until I see the light,’’ Robinson said. “I don’t have a ridiculous wing span or ridiculous height, but I know that I have a mental advantage against guys I play against. That’s the way I attack the game.’’

FAMILIAR NAME

One of the top names scheduled to workout in Portland in June is Duke wing Gary Trent, Jr.

If the name sounds familiar, it’s because his father Gary Trent played with the Blazers from 1995-1998.

“He always he told me stories of those teams, and the name they had, the Jail Blazers,’’ Trent said. “But he told me funny stories, stories of him, JR (Rider), Rasheed (Wallace).’’

Trent Jr. as a freshman with Duke averaged 14.5 points and 4.2 rebounds. He carries himself with a brash confidence and says he will show NBA teams that he can be a prolific scorer. He is projected to go anywhere from the mid-teens to the second round. 

“I honestly feel like I’m better than that,’’ Trent said. “I can score with the best of them – post, mid range, three, off the dribble, catch and shoot. I feel like there is not situation on the offensive end that I can’t do. ‘’

Part of that confidence comes from being schooled by his father, not only in the nuances of the game, but also the draft process.

“It’s almost as if I had a cheat sheet,’’ Trent said. “My father has been through it all – the combine, the one-year deals, the three-year deals. He’s been at the bottom of the bench, a key contributor off the bench. He’s been through every situation, and that’s the plus of having a father who played.’’

Trent is also well-schooled on the current Blazers, and said he felt he could make an immediate impact in Portland.

“I think I could come in right away and help be a nice spark, come in and knock down shots,’’ Trent said. “There is so much pressure on Dame and CJ, I would probably just get easy buckets just spotting up and doing little things like that.

“And scoring when I need to – drive, catch and shoot, play make, drop off to them and Harkless and all them guys … the big man, how do you say his name again? Nurkic, yeah, he’s a talented player, too. They have a lot going on, a lot of good things.’’

After 'OK' season with Ducks, Troy Brown thinks he is ready for NBA

After 'OK' season with Ducks, Troy Brown thinks he is ready for NBA

CHICAGO –Troy Brown’s only season at the University of Oregon didn’t go as he planned.  Not only did the team not make the NCAA Tournament, the heralded wing was only good, and not great, on the court.

Even so, after averaging 11.3, 6.2 rebounds and 3.2 assists for the Ducks, Brown said he saw enough in himself to declare for the NBA Draft.

“I would say it was OK,’’ he said of his freshman season in Eugene. “It wasn’t the best year, or the year I wanted. Every kid dreams of going to college and being the star player, but we all go through our ups and downs, and it’s one of those things I learned from, and I feel I matured from.’’

He said he feels the up-and-down tempo of the NBA will better suit his offensive game and complement his defensive versatility. NBA scouts seem to agree as Brown is projected to be a mid-to-late first round selection.

“I can do everything on the court,’’ Brown said. “I feel like I can score the ball really well, but at Oregon that wasn’t my (role). We had a lot of guys who could put the ball in the hoop. I was more of a glue guy, and I was ok with that. I was fine just showing my versatility and doing the hard stuff - rebounding, guarding the best player, diving for loose balls and stuff like that.’’ 

The 6-foot-7 Brown appears to be the type of hybrid player that is becoming valued in today’s NBA game – long, athletic and able to guard several positions. The knock on his game – his outside shooting – has been a point of emphasis in his predraft workouts. 

“The more repetitions, the better,’’ Brown said. 

He said he is embracing the undefined nature of what position he will play in the NBA, noting that the league is trending more toward positionless basketball. 

“I feel like coming out of college everybody sees me as a small forward, but I can still make my way up to whatever position my coach needs me to do to get the W,’’ Brown said. “That’s what I’m willing to do.’