Metro New York Workouts: Day 2 (James Mays, Roy Bright, etc)

Metro New York Workouts: Day 2 (James Mays, Roy Bright, etc)
May 29, 2007, 01:22 pm
For the second day of our swing through the New York metropolitan area, we stopped in to a workout run by former Hofstra guard Jay Hernandez at a private gym on Long Island, featuring juniors James Mays (Clemson), Roy Bright (Delaware State), James Gist (Maryland), and Antoine Agudio (Hofstra).

Hernandez, a guard who formerly played college ball alongside current NBA player Speedy Claxton, has been a full-time trainer since he founded his company, Pro Hoops Academy. Hernandez conducted this workout with another of his company’s trainers, Ross Burns, who also played college ball not too long ago, playing at UMass on the same team as current NBA player Marcus Camby.

Hernandez is an up-and-coming trainer who’s been building his profile over the past few years, working with such players as Speedy Claxton, Wally Szczerbiak, Cedric Simmons, and many other current and former college players, some who have gone on to careers overseas. Hernandez also runs a skills camp for NCAA players every summer, which will take place at St. John’s University this August.

The workout we saw today was split into two sessions, the first featuring Antoine Agudio and Roy Bright, with the second featuring James Mays and James Gist. Hernandez likes to work with no more than two players at a time when possible, so he can give attention to detail and really focus on individual skill development. The two separate workouts we saw were similar in execution, but also specifically tailored to the positions the players play, with Bright and Agudio working on more perimeter-oriented drills, while Mays and Gist spent more time around the basket, though they also mixed in a fair share of work from mid-range.

The workouts began with standard warm-ups of stretching, jogging, and shooting some close-ranged shots, followed by a lot of spot-up shooting, with Agudio and Bright shooting from 15 feet, college three-point range, and NBA three-point range. Mays and Gist took the same volume of jump shots, but with all theirs coming from the 15 foot range. The rest of the workouts were geared towards various moves with the basketball, often with the players performing a specific handful of moves in combination, doing each series for around 5-10 repetitions from each side of the court and with opposite hands. The guards worked on crossovers, jab steps, ball fake, stepback jumpers, spin moves, stutter steps, and using your back pivot foot on drives to gain separation. After performing plenty of different combinations of moves, Hernandez allowed the trainees to freelance a bit, attacking from the wing and using their own choice of dribble-drive combinations, showing off their creativity with the basketball. For the big men, Hernandez also ran them through some of the dribble-drive drills, but spent most of the time working on the low block with drop steps, turnaround jumpers, hook shots, and various fakes.

Only so much could be taken from a workout in this setting, as there were no competitive 1-on-1’s or 2-on-2’s to be seen, with the emphasis clearly being on skill development. Still, there were some things to be learned here, and skill development is a very necessary part of the training process, especially in the case of Agudio, Bright, and Gist, with Gist and Agudio returning to school for their senior seasons, and Bright likely to do the same, even though he’s testing the waters this year. In Mays’ case, he’s putting in hard work on his jump shot and perimeter skills, in anticipation of a possible transition to the small forward position in the future.

James Mays, 6’9, SF/PF, Junior, Clemson

Mays was definitely the headlining prospect of this workout, as the other three participants likely won’t even be in the draft this season. Mays is currently projected as a mid-to-high second rounder, though he hopes to move into the first round with a strong showing at the Orlando pre-draft camp, a setting that should be beneficial to his energetic style of play. Mays was a really good hustle player at the college level, possessing excellent athleticism and physical characteristics, spearheading Clemson’s pressure defense and making his impact felt on the boards and by finishing around the basket. His game isn’t especially polished otherwise, though he showed a few flashes in terms of post moves at times, but these are things he’s working on hard this summer in preparation for the draft.

After his impressive physique, the first thing you’d noticed about Mays in this workout would have to be his shooting mechanics, as they’re fairly unorthodox and not especially pretty. He has a very awkward shooting motion, with a bit of a push shot that’s in front of his body, not fully extending his shooting arm, which has a tendency to drift right at times. For all the ugliness of his mechanics, though, Mays has excellent touch, and one thing he is consistent with is his wrist motion, which doesn’t have any problems, as he always gets excellent rotation on the ball and gets good bounces off the rim. He also looked decently effective shooting the ball from the mid-range here, hitting for 40-of-66 from 15 feet out, and Hernandez said they’re doing some work on his shooting mechanics, specifically with his shot’s trajectory. Still, there’s only so much you can do in the three or four weeks they have to prepare prior to Mays going off to workout for NBA teams, so this is something Mays will have to continue working on in the future.

Mays showed off some of his explosiveness in the post-up drills, finishing with some powerful jams off of his dropsteps, which he showed good footwork on, something he occasionally flashed at Clemson this past season. Mays also looked good with his touch on finesse moves, especially on his right-handed hook shots, though he struggled a bit converting on left-handed shots, even though he looked fairly comfortable with them. Mays looked fluid going between shot-fakes and moves, as he’s obviously put in a lot of work going through Hernandez’s various series of drills in the past few weeks.

After working on the low-block for awhile, the drills moved to the mid-block, where Mays would have to put the ball on the floor for a few dribbles while also mixing in some moves. He looked much more comfortable with the moves that were predominantly right hand-based, doing a good job going through and into all the fakes and step-through moves, albeit without a defender on him. He did a good job of holding his pivot and displayed good footwork throughout the workout, hopefully adding some more moves he can consistently go to on the block in real-game situations, something he didn’t show a great propensity for in college.

Next the workout moved onto some drills that also incorporated mid-range and three-point shooting, where Mays was actually able to hit a few college three-pointers. The workout concluded with some extensive pick-and-roll drills, with Hernandez diagramming out six different ways to play the pick-and-roll, with him playing the point guard role and Mays playing the big man role, communicating with one another throughout the drill to designate which pick-and-roll move to run. Mays did a good job communicating with Hernandez on the drill, and with his explosiveness and good touch, he should be a solid pick-and-roll player at the next level, while also having the potential of becoming a reliable pick-and-pop player if he continues working on his jump shot.

Mays will be playing at the Orlando pre-draft camp beginning tonight, where he should try to have an impact performance along the lines of what energy players Renaldo Balkman and Louis Amundson did last year. If he can do that and exhibit some skills he didn’t show consistently at Clemson, he could put himself in late first round discussions for this year’s draft. Further down in this article, Mays sat down to answer a few questions about his training and his potential at the next level.

James Gist, 6’8, SF/PF, Junior, Maryland

James Gist didn’t declare for this year’s draft, but he’s here working out with Hernandez in preparation for next year’s college season, where he should get an expanded role with Ekene Ibekwe’s graduation. Gist is mostly a garbage man-type player now, blocking shots, pulling down rebounds, getting out on the break, and finishing around the rim, but he’s working on his mid-range jump shot and may potentially make the transition to combo-forward in the future if he develops his skills enough, as the 6’8 he’s listed at may be generous, and he would have a tough time playing the pure power forward spot at the next level. Even still, Gist may be destined for Europe when it’s all said and done, but with a breakout season in this his senior year, he could place himself into draft discussions, as he definitely has some strong skills and excellent athleticism.

Gist really lit it up in the mid-range shooting drills, hitting for 46-of-61 from about 15 feet out, exhibiting solid overall form, though he doesn’t always hold his follow through and he doesn’t fully extend his shot. Still, his form is consistent and his release point is high, and he’s obviously effective from the mid-range, something he should do more of next season. Gist also shot .429 from three-point range this past season, albeit on only 21 attempts. He hit a few three-pointers during the drill session here, though they didn’t spend much time working on that, but it appear Gist has the potential to develop at least college three-point range.

On the post drills, Gist looked really strong with his right-handed hook shot, barely missing on it, and overall showed good footwork and fluidity with his moves, though he looked a bit more comfortable with everything that was right hand-oriented. Gist needs to continue to work on his post and mid-range game, as it would help him to more consistently create his own scoring. Gist has the potential to have a real breakout senior season, with Ibekwe, D.J. Strawberry, and Mike Jones all not returning to school, which could put a lot more of the scoring load on his shoulders, something he may or may not be able to handle. He’s someone we’ll probably see at one or both of the pre-draft camps next year.

Roy Bright, 6’6, SF, Junior, Delaware State

Roy Bright decided to test the waters this year, applying for early entry to the draft, but after not receiving an invite to the Orlando pre-draft camp, there’s a good chance he’ll be returning to school this season, where he will try to repeat or even improve upon the 15.5 point per game he scored this season. On first glance, Bright looks like he’s built better for the power forward position, with a very well filled-out frame, but his skillset is definitely more perimeter-oriented, and at 6’6, he’s making a wise decision playing a perimeter-oriented game. After the workout, Bright mentioned that he’d lost some weight this summer, and he’s certainly in solid playing shape, but he should continue to trim down over the course of the next year, as he could use all the agility he could get to play the wing at the next level, especially being able to defend it.

Bright struggled a bit at the start of the workout, not consistently converting on his mid-range shots, hitting for just 17-28, though his efficiency actually improved as he stepped back to the college and NBA three-point lines, hitting for 16-25 from college range and 17-25 from NBA range. What really jumped out as he moved back was the amount of strength he possesses, as he put up shots from NBA range effortlessly. He seemed to push forward a bit more on his shot as he stepped back, but it wasn’t anything drastic, and it’s hard to argue with the efficiency. Bright shot just .328 from three-point range this past season, to go along with .440 overall.

After shooting drills, Bright moved onto lots of dribble-drive drills, practicing crossovers, ball-fakes, stepback jumpers, pull-up jumpers, spin moves, and more. Bright looked very fluid for a man his size going through all the moves, selling them well and not making many mistakes, picking all the series’ up quickly and effortlessly. He didn’t have much trouble hitting on the pull-up and step-back shots from mid-range, and despite not being incredibly quick, looked effective with all the moves. The biggest question mark for Bright will be if he can continue to do all the things he does at Delaware State against stronger competition, something he’ll have a chance to show at the pre-draft camps next year. Even if not, he should go on to have a productive career overseas.

Antoine Agudio, 6’3, PG/SG, Junior, Hofstra

Agudio will be entering his senior year at Hofstra next season, where he’s been a three-year starter, averaging upwards of 35 minutes each season, topping out at 38 minutes per game last year. Agudio’s consistently improved his scoring production and efficiency each season, to the point where he averaged 19.9 points on .458 shooting. He’s never played the pure point guard role at Hofstra, but this season, seniors Carlos Rivera and Loren Stokes will not be returning, taking a full 7 assists per game out of the lineup, leaving a lot of slack for Agudio to potentially pick up, even though he’s never averaged more than 2.7 assists per game in a season. Agudio will have a chance to show he can be more of a true point guard this season, though he wasn’t able to display any point guard skills in this setting, as everything was individual-oriented.

Agudio really lit things up in the shooting drills from 15 feet and college three-point range, hitting 21-25 from 15 feet and 18-25 from behind the college three-point line. He has excellent elevation on his jump shot and very good shooting mechanics, with a high, consistent release point that doesn’t change as he moves farther away from the basket. He shot a strong .430 from college range this past season, but he still apparently has to work on developing his NBA range. While he did excellent from inside NBA range in the shooting drills here, he struggled to convert from behind the NBA line, hitting just 9-23, even though his mechanics remained solid. It could’ve just been an off-day for Agudio, but even if not, he has plenty of time to add a few more feet to his range, something he shouldn’t have much trouble doing in time.

On the dribble-drive drills, Agudio was on-and-off, looking really comfortable and strong with some moves, while not looking comfortable on others, looking very awkward going through the motions and not really selling the move well at all. It should be noted that he definitely has plenty of good moves to create his own shot, as evidenced by his strong scoring production in his three years at Hofstra, and a player doesn’t necessarily have to be great at every move in the book. Agudio looked good going off one or two dribbles with either hand, and looked good pulling up into his shot from either hand, possessing good footwork and fluidity there. Agudio didn’t do a very good job selling his crossover moves and ball-fakes, looking rigid with his execution and not looking as if he’d get many players to bite on them. He got a bit more comfortable as the workout went on and he got some repetition in on all the moves, looking especially good when Hernandez allowed the players to free-lance their attacks from the wing, where he mixed in crossovers and spin moves well, finishing on floaters and pull-up shots.

With the new trend towards combo-guards in the NBA, Agudio should have a chance to catch on somewhere in the future, though he’d do himself well to work on becoming more of a point guard, something he should have the opportunity to do at Hofstra next season. He’s a player we will likely be seeing at one or both of the pre-draft camps next year, and if he doesn’t make it in the NBA, should have a very productive career as a scoring guard in Europe, where his game should fit in very well.

A Few Questions With James Mays

DraftExpress: What’s the biggest thing you’re working on in preparing for the draft?

James Mays: Getting into the best shape possible is my big thing and showing the scouts and teams that I can get out there, just keep working in the gym and doing what I’m doing.

DraftExpress: Is there anything in terms of skill development that you’re working on especially?

James Mays: Footwork and having a go-to move. I know a lot of teams probably didn’t think I have a go-to move, because I just played hard all the time. Also, I could probably improve on my perimeter shot, and just having a go-to move in the post.

DraftExpress: Is there anything you’re looking to show scouts at Orlando that you maybe weren’t able to show at Clemson?

James Mays: If given the chance, I can score like an energizer bunny; I can just keep going and going and get a lot of rebounds and stuff like that.

DraftExpress: People project you at both the small forward and power forward at the next level. Is there any position you’re more comfortable playing?

James Mays: Right now, I’d have to say power forward, because my perimeter skills are developing right now for the small forward, but eventually, my shot’s getting better since I’ve been working out so eventually I could probably make the transition, but right now I’d have to say power forward.

DraftExpress: Is there any player you model your game after?

James Mays: A lot of players. KG. TMac, I like the way he plays on the perimeter. Tim Duncan. Amare Stoudemire has to be the most because he’s so athletic and he gets rebounds and that’s what I do.

DraftExpress: Where do you think you’ll be drafted this year?

James Mays: I mean, right now, before going to the camp, I’d say low second round, but after the camp, hopefully I can shock a couple people and then who knows.

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