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.’’