The Rockets will work out six players Friday as part of their NBA due diligence.
The six players who are in town for the session Friday include: center Bryan Davis from Texas A&M, guard Demetri McCamey from Illinois, guard Manny Harris from Michigan, forward Latavious Williams from Tulsa of the NBA Development League, forward Jajuan Johnson from Purdue and guard Kelvin Lewis from the University of Houston.
Yes, Williams is that guy who you are pretty sure did something interesting at some point, but weren't sure because his name didn't really stick with you, so you just sorta moved on with your day. In fact, Williams did do something interesting, in that he decided not to go to college, but because he didn't want to go to Europe, he became the first player to ever make the jump from HS to the D-League.
Williams attended Christian Life Center Academy, the alma mater of Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan, Marquette guard Junior Cadougan, Louisiana Tech forward Olu Ashaolu, and Tennessee guard Melvin Goins. Williams, Cadougan, LA Tech forward Kadeem Coleby, and South Alabama forward Augustine Rubit all played on the same roster, and yet, from Jordan's tenure to Williams', Christian Life Center failed to come on to the national scene. Perhaps that can be attributed to poor coaching.
From what we're told, Williams came into training camp with little to no concept of the nuances of playing professional basketball. He was just asked to "run and jump in high school," and things like half-court spacing, defensive rotations, advance scouting and other basic concepts were largely a mystery to him. Had he shown up in Europe in this state, there is little doubt that he would have been on the first plane back home before the jet lag could even set in.
Now, I'm not saying that high schoolers should be coached in the same way that the pros are, but run and jump? Seriously?
Dime Magazine has an article on Williams from yesterday entitled "The Best NBA Draft One-And-Done Nobody Is Talking About."
Whereas Williams didn't get the most auspicious of starts to his professional career - mostly dealing with inconsistent minutes and offensive awareness - his adjustment to the game has been remarkably uplifting. The D-League has provided Williams with exactly what he hoped it would: a workplace conducive to developing his talent. Under the guidance of both coach Nate Tibbetts and his teammates in Tulsa, Latavious has begun to add the long ball and post moves - something he admits as his main weaknesses - to his game. The work is paying off, as word from his camp is that scouts are getting more and more interested about Williams' basketball future.
Let's not forget: before Williams was the "high school to D-League guy," he was a top 10 recruit on Rivals.com and had a ton of potential. So while this may just be a typical workout (we're not actually considering Bryan Davis, are we?), let's keep an eye on him. He's a lengthy rebounding-minded forward with a ton of upside, and apparently, is actually coachable. Draft stock usually fluctuates in the off-season when hearsay and second-guessing become the norm, so perhaps Williams' name will become more popular the more people talk about him, sort of in the Daniel Orton light.
As for the other guys, each of them, including Williams, is projected to be a second-round pick at best. JaJuan Johnson could be worth a look, and so could Manny Harris - each was productive in the Big Ten, and Johnson comes from the same program that produced Carl Landry. The Rockets currently do not own a second-round pick, so while this may be a workout for due diligence, it could also be an indicator that the Rockets are considering trading down in the first round in order to pick up a second rounder in the process.
Then again, there wouldn't be room for two draft picks on this roster, and I think Les Alexander would rather spend money on someone a little more important. So let's go with the due diligence route for now, unless we want to bring up another scenario: that the Rockets are giving themselves options just in case they decide to trade their first-round pick this year for someone like, say, Chris Bosh. You know he's going to find his way into every single off-season conversation that is Rockets related.