Moving into Day 4 of pre-draft workouts, the Washington Wizards continued to evaluate prospects who figure to be available in the second round of the June 27 NBA draft, including forwards James Southerland (Syracuse) and Deshaun Thomas (Ohio State).
During the portion of the workouts open to reporters, Southerland, Thomas and forward Laurence Bowers (Missouri) participated in one-on-drills at one end of the court while guards Khalif Wyatt (Temple), Keion Bell (Missouri) and D.J. Seeley (Cal State Fullerton) auditioned at the other end.
Southerland (6 feet 8, 210 pounds) sank several shots with Thomas and Bowers defending in his bid to convince the Wizards front office he’s worth considering. Washington owns the No. 3 overall pick and the eighth and 24th picks in the second round. Southerland, according to multiple mock draft Web sites, is projected at best as a late second-rounder.
“I feel like people are underestimating my athleticism, the energy I bring,” said Southerland, who excelled as a three-pointer shooter for the Orange. “Also leadership. I’m definitely talkative. I stay active, and I stuff it up.”
Thomas, meantime, may have more NBA appeal given he led the Big Ten in scoring (19.8 points per game) last season as a junior before declaring early for the draft. Thomas (6-7, 215) is No. 9 in career scoring for the Buckeyes and eighth in three-pointers. He’s second all-time at Ohio State in NCAA tournament scoring, trailing only Jerry Lucas.
Thomas averaged 22.3 points over four NCAA tournament games this past season and was named to the NCAA West Region all-tournament team.
“It’s a good program,” Thomas said of the Wizards. “Got a lot of young guys. They play real hard. I can contribute a lot. I can be that guy who comes off the bench and score for them, be that energy guy, do whatever it takes to help my team win and be that guy who’s willing to work at it.”
While Thomas had been a featured player for several season at Ohio State, Southerland did not receive significant minutes until he was a senior. This past season, Southerland averaged a career highs of 13.3 points, 5.2 rebounds and 29.5 minutes.
He’s also somewhat familiar with Verizon Center, where he played three times this season. In addition to a 61-39 loss to Georgetown to close the regular season, the Orange beat Indiana and Marquette in NCAA tournament East Region games at Verizon Center to advance to the Final Four.
“Washington, D.C., is a great place to be,” Southerland said. “Even though it’s Georgetown’s place, I kind of feel like I’m at home.”
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