Just two months ago, Kevon Looney seemed like a sure-fire lottery selection in the June 25 NBA draft.
In a poll of four longtime NBA scouts by The Journal Times, Looney, a Milwaukee native who played power forward for UCLA last season, was ranked the 10th-best prospect in the draft.
Looney could still wind up being a high first-round pick, although that seems highly unlikely. His stock has been dropping to the point where some NBA officials speculate he won’t be taken until late in the first round.
Those officials contend Looney is at least two years away from being a solid contributor and that he needs to add substantial weight to his 6-foot-9, 222-pound frame, especially if he intends on playing power forward.
But there’s an even bigger concern regarding Looney, one that has definitely drawn the attention of NBA teams. Looney has asthma and, according to several NBA officials who have monitored his career since his days at Milwaukee Hamilton High School, it has adversely affected his play.
Scouts claim it isn’t unusual for Looney to frequently bend over and catch his breath while on the court and that he doesn’t have the endurance of most players.
They are also concerned that his asthmatic condition could be even more worrisome as a pro, considering the NBA regular season is 82 games compared to just the 36 he played last season as a freshman at UCLA.
While Looney’s asthma condition has raised red flags with some NBA teams, there are others who aren’t overly concerned. They noted several NBA players over the years have had asthma and still had productive careers with the proper medication.
Bucks officials will undoubtedly get a better handle on Looney’s situation late next week. That’s when Looney is expected to work out for the Bucks brass at the team’s training facility in St. Francis.
Thanks, but no thanks
At the recent pre-draft camp in Chicago, Cameron Payne said he planned to work out for the Bucks.
That’s not the case anymore.
Travis King, Payne’s agent, said he informed the Bucks earlier this week that his client wouldn’t be coming to Milwaukee. The Bucks have the 17th overall pick and King believes Payne will be drafted before that.
Indiana, which has the 11th pick, and Oklahoma City, which has the 14th pick, have worked out the former Murray State point guard and are high on him. Payne is also expected to work out soon with the Sacramento Kings, who have the sixth pick.
Feeling the heat
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Devin Booker, who is definitely on the Bucks’ radar, met with Bucks officials at the pre-draft camp in Chicago.
During the interview, Bucks coach Jason Kidd and his minions asked the shooting guard from Kentucky to try his hand at coaching.
“It was definitely cool,’’ said Booker, arguably the best shooter in the draft. “I take pride in my IQ of the game, so they had me draw up a play. They wanted to know about situations and things like that.
"It was kind of nerve-wracking with J. Kidd in there, one of the best to do it. But it was a good experience.’’
I asked Booker if he was the best shooter in the draft and he immediately responded, “Absolutely.’’
And Booker’s favorite shooter is?
“Klay Thompson. I like Klay Thompson a lot,’’ Booker said. “I respect J.J. Redick. I respect Kyle Korver. I watch a lot of film on them. They’re great players.’’
When a reporter broached the topic of "Great White Hope'' to Wisconsin forward Sam Dekker at the recent pre-draft camp, he couldn’t resist laughing.
Said Dekker: “When you say great white hope, Frank (Kaminsky, his teammate at Wisconsin) used to say that about J.J. Redick when he was at Duke. So, that’s pretty funny.
"Race isn’t a big deal to me. I think people know I can play basketball regardless of how I look.’’
The Bucks will be hosting a block party Saturday at Schlitz Park in Milwaukee from noon to 5 p.m. The Bucks will use the occasion to unveil their new home and road uniforms. The unveiling ceremony is scheduled for 2 p.m.
Current Bucks Jabari Parker, John Henson, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Damien Inglis, along with former Bucks Bob Dandridge and Vin Baker, are expected to be in attendance,
The party is free and open to the public.
Dallas, San Antonio, Houston, Boston and Sacramento are among the teams that have shown interest in Satnam Singh Bharama, who is attempting to be the first player from India to play in the NBA. … The relatively-small town of Chester, Pa. (population of 34,046) has produced Arizona forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, a projected late first-round pick, along with Tyreke Evans, Jameer Nelson and Bo Ryan. … Agent Andy Miller will be hosting a pro-day camp next week in Vegas that figures to attract a ton of scouts. Among those working out will be Kristaps Porzingis and Myles Turner, likely lottery picks, along with Christian Wood, Chris McCullough, Rakeem Christmas, Jarell Martin and Michael Frazier, all potential first or early-second round picks.