NBA Draft: Beal's college foe works out for Wizards

NBA Draft: Beal's college foe works out for Wizards
June 16, 2014, 3:15 pm
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(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports)

Monday wasn't Jordan McRae's first visit to the Verizon Center. The University of Tennessee product believes this outing, a pre-draft workout with the Washington Wizards, went much better than that other appearance. How could it not?

Back on November 30, 2012, McRae and the Vols lost to Otto Porter and the Georgetown Hoyas. The final score: 37-36. Not a single player reached double digit points. The final point came with 4:10 remaining.

“That was a bad game. [Monday] had to go better than that,” cracked McRae moments after his court session with five other draft prospects. “We scored 36 points the whole game. There were times in my career where I [scored] 35, so scoring 36 [as a team] in a whole game, that was tough.”

The game could be best described as unsightly, yet because of the true offensive oddity, truly memorable

“I’ll never forget the game. We were on the 'not top 10' [highlights show] all that week,” McRae said.

The 6-foot-6 wing guard missed five of six of his 3-point attempts versus the Hoyas and finished 3 of 10 overall for seven points. At the very least, McRae can say with confidence that he made more shots on this trip to Chinatown.

“As a group today we made more shots than everybody did on both teams that day,” the smiling Georgia native said. “I was really looking forward to coming around here.”

McRae has been just about everywhere on the NBA map during the draft process, having worked out for at least a dozen teams to date, including the Bulls, Pistons and Heat. Leading up to the June 26 draft, McRae is attempting to show any potential employers that he’s game for the dirty work even though he led Tennessee in scoring as a senior with 18.7 points per game. 

“Just playing hard,” McRae said. “Playing defense as a rookie. You have to do all the small things and that’s what I want to do.” Offensively, the 185-pounder made 35 percent of his 3’s last season and 79 percent of his 5.8 free-throw attempts per game. “I know I can score in a lot of different ways, but as a rookie I know it takes time.”

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DraftExpress.com ranks McRae as the 65th overall draft prospect. The Wizards own the 46th overall pick in the draft.

Wizards president Ernie Grunfeld, a Tennessee basketball legend and the man who will make the draft-day decisions for Washington, watched the workouts from above the practice court. Alex Kirk (New Mexico), Daniel Miller (Georgia Tech), Tim Frazier (Penn State), Chris Crawford (Memphis) and Will Sheehy (Indiana) also participated.

“Just being in Tennessee, we know about them the whole time,” McRae said of Grunfeld and Bernard King. The dynamic pair starred in the 1970s and were the subjects of a recent sports documentary on their college and NBA playing days. “[Ernie] and Bernard King on the cover of [Sports Illustrated], they won a lot of games… He’s a great GM. Their rep speaks for itself.”

Washington’s off-season to-do list includes shoring up their backcourt depth. Should he join the Wizards, McRae, 23, would become the third SEC guard on the roster along with John Wall and Bradley Beal. Free agent Garrett Temple attended LSU.

Beal and McRae played against each other twice during the 2011-12 season, Beal’s lone campaign in college, with McRae scoring in double figures each time. He’s kept tabs on the Wizards’ rising star.

“Even though Brad Beal is 20, 21 years old, he’s obviously doing great things,” McRae said. “If I were to come in to this program, I would definitely try to learn from him and follow what he’s doing.”

Smart man. Certainly a better plan than repeating his last performance at the Verizon Center.