Daemen College basketball star Gerald Beverly had a workout with the Toronto Raptors last week that included Louisville star Montrezl Harrell, a sure-fire first-round pick in the upcoming NBA Draft.
Two weeks ago he was in Delray Beach, Fla, for an NBA pro day workout that included Louisville’s Terry Rozier, another likely first-round pick. Three weeks ago, he joined a workout for the Phoenix Suns that included Kentucky star Aaron Harrison.
How cool is that for a Division II prospect who spent his college career playing against the likes of Molloy College, the University of the District of Columbia and Ave Maria University?
“I’m enjoying myself every step of the way,” Beverly said. “It has been a great experience. Especially where I’m coming from, I think a lot of people think he’s not going to be able to transition from that level. It is quite a jump in terms of the talent and size. It’s been fun and I think I’m showing these scouts what I can do and getting my name out there.”
The 6-foot-7, 230-pound Beverly was a force of nature – a man among young adults – for the past four seasons at Daemen. He averaged 20 points, 12 rebounds and 3.5 blocks as a senior. He finished his career with 1,799 points, 1,004 rebounds and 330 blocks.
His chiseled frame and athleticism made NBA scouts take notice. Scouts from the Spurs, Bucks, Cavaliers and Heat, among others, watched him last season. He is too much of a diamond in the rough to be picked when the NBA Draft is held June 25-26. But he has received enough attention to harbor legitimate hopes of a pro career that might eventually lead him to the NBA.
Also on the radar of NBA scouts entering the draft is St. Bonaventure’s 7-foot center, Youssou Ndoye. He’s a long shot to be among the 60 players drafted, but he is less of a project that Beverly. He might get invited to an NBA training camp.
Beverly has come so far in his career that his story would read like a movie script if he ever gets all the way to the NBA.
He was cut from the team as a freshman at Gates-Chili High School, just outside of Rochester. He was a bit player as a junior. After his senior year, his only college offers were from Brockport, Clarkson, Fredonia and Hilbert. Ex-Daemen head coach Don Silveri came through with an offer at the last minute.
After dominating Division II as an inside force, Beverly needs to remake his game.
“It’s not about where he is today, it’s about where he’s going to be two years from now,” said Roger Montgomery, Beverly’s San Antonio, Texas-based agent.
“He’s never played on the perimeter,” Montgomery said. “He’s played exclusively in the paint, and he’s good at that. We’re going to continue to work on what he’s good at. But especially defensively, he’s going to have to step out on the perimeter and guard. And he’s going to have to step out on the perimeter and knock down shots. I think that’ll come. But it’s going to be a process.”
“I have to be more of a wing player, but I’m considered a 4 now,” Beverly said. “I’m no longer a 5. At the same time, as a 4, I can still go in the post and do some things I did before. I have been working on my perimeter skills. I feel I can hold my own on the perimeter and be comfortable.”
Beverly has a nice touch on his jump shot. He made a respectable 73 percent of his free throws last season.
“It was never needed for me to shoot from the perimeter ever in my basketball career,” Beverly said. “It’s coming. I’ve been shooting a lot more now, and I’ve definitely improved. I’ve always felt I could shoot.”
As for defense, Beverly will have to work on his foot speed over the next year or two. At 6-7, he will need the versatility to defend the wing.
“The comparisons we keep hearing that he’s got to look at are Draymond Green, who reshaped his body and became a productive jump shooter,” said Daemen coach Mike MacDonald, referring to the Michigan State product and current Golden State star. “Kenneth Faried of the Nuggets is another. And the one I think about, who’s more old school, is Malik Rose, who played at Drexel. He didn’t really make jump shots and he played in the NBA a long time.”
The goal for Beverly is to get invited to one of the NBA’s summer-league events in July. Twenty-four teams participate in the big event in Las Vegas July 10-20. Nine teams send squads to Orlando July 4-10 and four teams participate in an event in Utah July 6-9.
“If I can show what I can do and play well there, it can open many doors,” Beverly said. “Maybe I can get invited to a camp or it can open a door internationally.”
A European gig is the likely destination for Beverly next season.
Europe also is the likely near-term destination for Bona’s Ndoye, who averaged 11.8 points, 10.1 rebounds and 2.6 blocks as a senior. Ndoye, a native of Senegal, played at about 245 pounds last season. He probably needs to add at least 10 pounds of bulk as a pro.
The upside for Ndoye is he has a 7-foot-5 wingspan, and NBA teams value shot-blocking “rim protectors.” The NBA tracks the relationship between field-goal attempts defended and field-goal percentage allowed on shots at the rim.
As far as the draft is concerned, however, that factor is outweighed by the reality there is less play in the paint in the NBA than ever before. On offense, centers largely are asked to get out of the way to make space for ball-handlers and shooters.
Ndoye is a high-character player with uncommon hustle for a 7-footer. He could fill an NBA niche as his body and game develop.
Ndoye was one of 64 seniors who played in the Portsmouth (Va.) Invitational in April. He has had pre-draft workouts with Memphis, Philadelphia, Dallas, Brooklyn, the Knicks, Miami, Utah. He has reported workouts with the Spurs, Clippers and Wizards.