Josh Okogie’s pre-draft tour came home to Atlanta Monday for a workout with the Hawks at their training facility. It was the third workout that he has had with a team thus far, he said, following sessions with the Boston Celtics and Brooklyn Nets.
“It’s fun, it’s different,” Okogie said. “It’s not something like anything I’ve ever done before, so I’m learning every day.”
The Hawks brought in Okogie with five other draft prospects, including North Carolina forward Luke Maye. Of the six, Okogie was the only one with an invitation to next week’s NBA draft combine.
Okogie declared for the draft shortly after the end of the Yellow Jackets’ season with the option to return and has been preparing for team workouts and the combine since that point. He’ll be one of 69 players at the combine next week in Chicago. He is seen as a possibility to get selected in the second round, although there’s the possibility that he could improve his standing at the combine. By not signing with an agent, Okogie can still return to Tech for his junior season. He said Monday that he was not leaning either toward staying in the draft or going back to Tech for his junior season.
“I think, really, the goal is to stay in the league,” he said. “If going in the second round is how I’m going to go and stay, I don’t know. But right now, I’m always shooting for the best possibility, and I think I have the potential to be a first-round pick, so that’s everything I’m shooting for.”
Okogie said he has received a lot of feedback from NBA teams.
“I think, obviously, everybody likes my motor,” he said. “I can go all day long. One of the things I need to improve on, I think myself, is creating my own shot. I’ve improved on that greatly, but you can never get too good on anything. Just keep improving on the things that I’m doing well and try to lift my weaknesses.”
From feedback, he said he does not have a sense of where he might go in the draft.
“I’m all over the place,” he said. “Going through this combine and going through this final stretch before May 30, I’m hoping to get a more defined gauge of where I’m at.”
May 30 is the deadline for returning to school. Okogie said he wasn’t sure when he and his family would make a decision on his future, although it would be after the combine in Chicago, which is May 16-20. He said he did not have any more workouts scheduled between now and the start of the combine.
“I really appreciate getting the (combine) invitation,” he said. “I’m grateful – glory be to God. But now that I’ve got the invite, I’ve got to go show up and just keep doing what I’ve been doing this whole process, and that’s just playing my butt off and showing everybody everything that I’ve got.”
Okogie has been working on finishing around the basket, ball-handing and extending his shooting range. Media were permitted to observe the final portions of the workout, in which players were taking 3-pointers from around the arc and in various situations – off the dribble, coming off a screen, etc. In his final 75 shots, Okogie was right around 50 percent.
“That line is pretty far back,” he said. “It’s just muscle memory.”
The Hawks hold a lottery pick (no worse than seventh) as well as the 19th, 30th (final pick of the first round) and the 33rd picks. Boston holds just one selection, the 27th. Brooklyn has the 29th pick and two picks in the first half of the second round.
“I played high school here, I played college here and, potentially, if God pleases and I come here, I feel like it would be a great story for me and just a testament to hard work and how God has been great to me,” Okogie said.
Besides Okogie and Maye, the other four participants were Ole Miss guard Terence Davis, Texas A&M center Tyler Davis, Florida Gulf Coast guard Brandon Goodwin (from Norcross High) and Auburn guard Jared Harper (Pebblebrook High). Tyler Davis, Harper and Maye are early-entry candidates who have not signed with an agent and can still return to college, like Okogie.