Charlotte Hornets

Charlotte Hornets among many stops on Duke forward Amile Jefferson’s pre-draft marathon

Duke forward Amile Jefferson must demonstrate shooting range to NBA teams that he didn’t show in four college seasons.
Duke forward Amile Jefferson must demonstrate shooting range to NBA teams that he didn’t show in four college seasons. AP

Welcome to the Amile Jefferson pre-draft roadshow.

An elite NBA prospect can do a couple of select workouts, then sit back and wait for the June 22 draft. A player such as the former Duke forward – marginal to be among the 60 players drafted – has every incentive to audition wherever and whenever an NBA team calls.

Amile Jefferson, one of six players in a workout with the Charlotte Hornets Saturday, anticipates workouts with nearly half the NBA’s 30 teams.

Jefferson was one of six players in a workout with the Charlotte Hornets Saturday. He anticipates workouts with nearly half the NBA’s 30 teams before draft day.

These auditions last about two hours. Between the workouts and the travel, this month can be exhausting. Jefferson, who completed his college eligibility in the winter, seems to have a great attitude about this marathon.

“I love every minute of it. This is the only chance you get to do something like this," said Jefferson, a 6-foot-9 forward who averaged 10.9 points and 8.4 rebounds last season.

“From state to state, really introduce yourself and show off your talents to 15 or more teams in the NBA. I’m cherishing all these places. I’m really thankful for this opportunity.”

Jefferson has already auditioned with Minnesota, Utah, Orlando, the New York Knicks, Houston, Denver and Charlotte. Six more teams are scheduled.

At least four other former Blue Devils – Jayson Tatum, Luke Kennard, Harry Giles and Frank Jackson – will be drafted before there’s any chance of Jefferson being selected.

The biggest challenge for Jefferson is demonstrating he has enough shooting range to fit into an NBA offense. Many teams, the Hornets included, use 1-in/4-out sets that require the power forward to make 3-point shots.

In a drill late in Saturday’s workout, Jefferson missed seven consecutive unguarded 3-pointers before hitting one. He never took a shot from the college 3-point line in 150 games at Duke.

“The biggest thing is shooting. I’m getting a lot better at it, putting in the reps,” said Jefferson, who sees defense as his best asset.

Amile Jefferson said if there’s any advantage to being a college senior in this process, it’s how serious he is about making an impression.

“I think teams already know that I’m a really good defender and a winner. I think I’ve put the ball on the floor well in these workouts.

“I think I can play power forward, but also guard multiple positions. Switch defensively whenever they need me to. You have to guard stretch fours (power forwards with shooting range), threes (small forwards) and even twos (shooting guards).”

Jefferson said if there’s any advantage to being a college senior in this process, it’s how serious he is about making an impression.

“I’m used to showing up ready, whether you get (to a new city) at midnight or 3 in the morning. Once you get between those lines, you need to be ready for anything, and I think I’ve gotten really good at that.”

Bonnell: 704-358-5129; @rick_bonnell

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