After a star-studded workout to kick off the week, the Wizards’ pre-draft process continued on Tuesday. While Cason Wallace and Nick Smith Jr. showed off potential first-round talent, Tuesday's group tried to show Wizards brass that they are worth taking a shot on in the second round or even on the undrafted market. The two top prospects of the group, Arkansas wing Ricky Council IV and Overtime Elite guard Jazian Gortman, spoke to the media and praised how intense Washington’s workout was. Let’s look at these two potential options for the Wizards’ pair of second-round picks (along with the other workout invitees).
Ricky Council IV
Council IV finished off his college career at Arkansas after two years at Witchita State. He racked up an All-AAC Rookie team selection and AAC Sixth Man of the Year before transferring to the SEC. He exploded onto the scene this season by averaging 16 points per game and landing on the All-SEC second team. Council’s scoring ability helped keep the Razorbacks afloat as their stars got injured and he led the team of freshmen throughout the year, including a clutch performance to beat #1 seed Kansas in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
The word that comes to mind with Council IV is athleticism. His highlight tape is full of nasty dunks and absurd finishes at the rim. He is simultaneously a fierce dunker and one of those athletes that seems to glide (rather than run) around the court. He was a dynamo in transition, averaging 3.1 points per game on fast breaks according to CBB Analytics. That mark put him in the 97th percentile of fast break scorers and, according to Synergy Sports, his efficiency in transition ranked 17th among players with 100 possessions on the break in Division 1.
Shooting will be the offensive challenge for Council. After shooting 44% from three on a small sample size in his freshman year, his deep ball faltered and he shot just 28.4% on 211 attempts in the last two seasons. The Durham, NC native is trying to improve his shooting and believes his mechanics have gotten better.
“I used to shoot with a higher release and ‘funky mechanics,’ I used to hear,” said Council when I asked him what specifically he changed about his shot. “But after the season, I’ve just really been focused on bringing the ball a little lower and getting my offhand off it. So it’s kind of like a smoother release. It feels more on my hands.”
He also said that his shots didn’t fall as much as he wanted in the workout. Council’s free throw shooting provides some hope. He went from shooting 64% from the line during his freshman year to cashing in about 80% of his freebies in his last two seasons. He also excelled at getting to the line, which is an ability that should translate if he gets a shot in the NBA.
Council’s defensive potential could also be a selling point. His defense at Arkansas seemed to wax and wane, especially when he had to take on more offensive responsibility. But his size and speed provide a good base for defending guards. He said that he expects to guard 1-3 in the NBA and will put on more weight to hang with the bigger small forwards.
Got to ask Arkansas wing Ricky Council IV about his shooting development and defense at the Wizards pre-draft workout. He's a player to watch with DC's second round picks pic.twitter.com/SMvjXghTFk— Gabe Ibrahim (@gabe_ibrahim) June 7, 2023
Gortman is a 6’2” guard from the Overtime Elite league who just turned 20 in April. Coming into Tuesday, I knew very little about Gortman (or most OTE prospects outside of the Thompson twins). He is longer than his listed height would suggest, at least in person. Stats from OTE are hard to translate to the scouting process. He scored almost 14 points per game but shot mediocre percentages from the field (45% from two, 32% from three). He made his free throw attempts at a high rate (79.6%) and had a positive assist-to-turnover ratio.
While the stats don’t paint a picture, Gortman’s highlights are pretty intriguing. He is athletic and shifty. A lot of his highlights are transition dunks because he absolutely attacks the rim. He has a nice bag of dribble moves as well. The OTE league is still very new and we don’t quite know how it trains players for the next level yet. Gortman is a big believer in it and he explained why in the video below. He may get a shot to prove OTE’s worth as a late second-rounder or undrafted player. He will need a couple of years in the G League, but the raw potential is there.
Jazian Gortman explained why he believes that OTE teaches players how to play the right way. (I framed the question as a comparison with college, so don't take his answer as slight) pic.twitter.com/jKFE7FW68V— Gabe Ibrahim (@gabe_ibrahim) June 7, 2023
- All of the Wizards’ workout invitees took unusual paths there. Council transferred and Gortman came from OTE. Others had much more winding journeys. Kendric Davis from Memphis played at three schools (SMU, TCU). Trey Jemison went from Clemson’s bench to starting at UAB as a defensive workhorse. Noah Locke went from Florida to Louisville to Providence in his five years en route to a graduate degree in higher education.
- Patrick Gardner had the most improbable journey. He started his career at Nassau Community College in Long Island, New York. He helped Nassau reach the Division 3 Junior College championship game, medically redshirted his sophomore year, then got Nassau back to the quarterfinals. That’s D3 JUNIOR college, not NCAA. He transferred to NCAA Division 2 St. Michael’s in 2020, only to have his season canceled. After a decent year at St. Michael’s in 21-22, he transferred again to Marist where he made 38.3% of his 149 three-point attempts. He’s 6’11” and, from what the media saw at the end of the workout, he could stroke threes. Not sure if he’s a G-League player, but even getting to this point is an incredible accomplishment.