Tuesday’s session in front of Washington Wizards officials at Verizon Center marked Maurice Creek’s first pre-draft workout, where he served as one of 12 players pining for the opportunity to be drafted with the 46th overall pick in Thursday’s NBA draft. But the former Indiana and George Washington guard proved five years ago that he belonged on the same court with John Wall.
Creek torched the ballyhooed Kentucky Wildcats guard for 31 points in 32 minutes of a lopsided loss on Dec. 12, 2009, elevating the then-Hoosier alongside Wall into the national conversation for freshman of the year honors. Three games later, Creek would suffer the first of three season-ending injuries during his career that ultimately led to his 2013 transfer to George Washington and Tuesday’s scene, when he toyed with the idea of again sharing the floor with Wall.
“I’ve known John for a good minute when he was in North Carolina for high school, and we played against each other a lot on the AAU circuit,” Creek said following the 30-minute workout that served as one of two sessions held by the Wizards on Tuesday. “He’s very fast, very quick, can get up and down the floor. He’s always looking for his players to knock down shots, and I think that’s what I do pretty well, being on the side and knocking down like shots. … I could play a backup role at the point guard spot and [get] everybody involved, so I think I could fit well here.”
More familiarity for Creek flowed from the presence of former George Washington teammate and fellow Maryland native Isaiah Armwood. Together, the duo sparked the Colonials to a berth in this year’s NCAA tournament.
Both Creek, a 6-foot-5 guard with offensive efficiency, and Armwood, a fierce post player who averaged 8.4 rebounds and 1.5 blocks as a senior, possess some of the tools necessary to meet the Wizards’ pressing needs entering Thursday’s draft. With eight players set to join LeBron James on the free agent market on July 1, Washington’s position at the 16th spot in the second round (No. 46 overall) holds long-term value.
The injury-plagued Nene is the lone Wizards post player currently under contract entering next season, and with Andre Miller set to turn 39 in March the team must address its backup point guard situation sooner than later.
“They like to run a lot, and that’s what I like to do,” said Armwood, who also had workouts with Denver, Miami and Sacramento. “I can be that three or four guy that rebounds the ball, be a lockdown defender. I think I could fit in real well.”
Tuesday marked the second Wizards workout for former Ohio State swingman LaQuinton Ross. Like his first session two weeks ago, Ross worked to display his length and shooting touch while going through a number of up-tempo drills and sets under the watch of Wizards Coach Randy Wittman and President-General Manager Ernie Grunfeld.
“This was one of my tougher workouts because the coach likes to get up and down and definitely their style of play, so we did a lot of up and down,” Ross said.
Tuesday’s second group of prospects featured former Pitt forward Talib Zanna, who was an All-Met at McNamara in 2009. After serving as the lone post presence among Pittsburgh’s four-guard attack, Zanna has used the pre-draft workouts as a means to display his outside stroke after attempting just three three-pointers during his four-year college career.
“The whole workout I went through, I knocked down all my shots,” the Nigeria native said. “I can guard multiple positions. (Pittsburgh) Coach (Jamie) Dixon just wanted me to play five because he thought that would really help the team. At the end of the day, it depends on the game situation. I just want one team to like me.”
The eight other players who worked out Tuesday were 5-10 guard Jahii Carson (Arizona State); 6-8 forward Halil Kanacevic (St. Joseph’s); 6-4 guard Sean Kilpatrick (Cincinnati); 6-7 forward Devin Oliver (Dayton); 6-10 forward Dwight Powell (Stanford); 6-8 forward Roscoe Smith (UNLV); 6-10 forward Richard Solomon (California); and, 5-9 guard Chaz Williams (Massachusetts).