Bobby Portis has been following in some huge footsteps and he knows it.
“Sydney Moncrief went to Hall High School in Little Rock and so did I,’’ Portis said of the Moncrief, one of the greatest players in Milwaukee Bucks history. “He went to Arkansas and so did I.’’
Portis then started laughing before adding, “He played for the Milwaukee Bucks and I might play for the Milwaukee Bucks. That would be crazy?’’
It would indeed be strange but it's definitely not out of the realm of possibilities. Portis, a 6-foot-11 power forward-center, is generally regarded as a mid-first round selection in the June 25. The Bucks have a mid-first round pick -- No. 17 -- and are in the market for another versatile big man, especially after trading Ersan Ilyasova to the Detroit Pistons.
Portis, who was the 2015 Southeast Conference Player of the Year after averaging 17.5 points and 8.9 rebounds per game last season, worked out for the Bucks on Wednesday. And, by all accounts, he acquitted himself well.
Portis’ strong showing came with Wes Edens, one of the Bucks’ owners, in attendance. It also came the morning after Portis went out to dinner with Bucks coach Jason Kidd and some members of the Bucks’ brass.
As much as the Bucks are interested in Portis, there’s hardly any assurances he’ll still be on the draft board when they make their first selection.
A spate of teams picking before the Bucks have also worked out Portis, including Detroit (No. 8), Indiana (11), Utah (12), Phoenix (13), Oklahoma City (14), Atlanta (15) and Boston (16).
When I asked the personable Portis whether any team has given him a “promise’’ to select him, he smiled and said, “A couple of teams have. They told me I was their guy. Or that I’m definitely in their top two.
"I think they say that to everybody.’’
At the pre-draft camp in Chicago, Portis measured at 6 feet, 9½ inches without shoes and 6-10½ with shoes. He weighed 246.2 pounds and had a wingspan of 7-2. He expects those numbers to change in next couple of years.
“I’m still growing,’’ said Portis, who became the first Razorback to total more than 600 points (629) and 300 rebounds (321) last season as a sophomore. “My doctor said I’ll be a 7-footer. I don’t want to be a 7-footer but that’s what he said.’’
Portis is convinced his game is going to grow, too.
“I’ll be a better pro than college player,’’ Portis said. “I’ll grow into my body more and be able to do even more things.’’
And perhaps have a career similar to Moncrief’s.
Alford refutes Looney's asthma issues
Some NBA officials recently told The Journal Times they were concerned about an alleged asthmatic problem for Kevon Looney, the former Milwaukee Hamilton High School and UCLA standout.
Because of his asthma issues, some of those individuals stated Looney’s stock could fall to the point where, instead of being a fringe lottery selection, he could slip late into the first round.
But UCLA coach Steve Alford refuted those opinions, telling me Looney was never hampered by asthma in the one season he played for the Bruins.
“Tell me one freshman in the country who played 32 minutes a game and averaged a double-double (with 11.6 points and 9.2 rebounds),’’ Alford said. “There was nobody. He can play long stretches.
“We saw no issues of that (asthma problems).’’
Alford believes Looney will eventually be a standout in NBA, thanks in part to his length – he has a 7-2 1/2 wingspan -- and an improved shooting stroke.
“He has such great length and he uses it well,’’ Alford said. “And his shooting has improved so much. I think he’ll be a shooting four and a big guard.’’
Alford believes Looney’s name will be called early on draft night, projecting him to be selected between eight and 16.
What they’re saying
• Bucks scouting director Billy McKinney on Portis: “He has great versatility on both sides of the ball. He’s a guy that can play four and five.’’
• Arizona forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson on Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan: “He’s a stand-up guy and a great representative of our city (Chester, Pa.). But I am still kind of mad he beat us twice.’’
• Marquette guard Matt Carlino on Marquette coach Steve Wojciechowski: “He’s incredibly passionate about the game. His love and passion for the game are amazing.’’
• LSU forward Jordan Mickey on former LSU and current Bucks forward Johnny O’Bryant: “He’d give me the shirt off his back if he had to. He’s just a giving guy.’’
An NBA exec speculated that if the Bucks move up a few spots in the draft, it would be with the intention of drafting combo forward Trey Lyles of Kentucky. … Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders claims Louisiana State forward Jarell Martin has a “mid-first round promise.’’ That may be the case, but I’m told it’s not from the Bucks. … With their decision to trade of Lance Stephenson to the Los Angeles Clippers, some NBA officials are convinced the Hornets are now honing in on drafting Kentucky shooting guard Devin Booker with the ninth overall pick. … Free agency begins July 1 and, according to a person close to the scene, Khris Middleton won’t be a free agent for long and will reach a quick agreement to remain with the Bucks.