Tuesday, June 9, 2015

O'Neale Impresses In Pre-Draft Workouts

As a bone-thin elementary school kid, Royce O'Neale leaned on grand illusions of becoming an NBA talent.

 Mesmerized by the manipulative moves of Allen Iverson, Vince Carter, Lebron James, and a host of others, O'Neale's lust for the game has only blossomed.

Ten years and a 10.1 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 3.8 APG senior statline later, the Baylor product's childhood NBA dreams no longer appear far-fetched.

At 2015 Elev8 Pro Day, the 6-foot-6, 215-pound forward displayed considerable versatility.

Previously undiscovered thleticism took many by surprise.

Workouts with the Warriors, Rockets, Spurs, as well as others, have showcased a largely unheralded and multi-layered weapon blessed with deceptive athleticism.

 Scouts have also stumbled upon the massive and Wolverine-like 10-inch hands of O'Neale, the unique trait mastered by the Spurs' Kawhi Leonard.

Those monstrous hands have been implemented well beyond the arc.

O'Neale has grinded away at piling on range, launching straight-away three-pointers and treys from the angles and corners for hours at the Village Academy School in sun-baked Delray Beach, Fla.

 It's not a pure stroke or a quick release, as O'Neale totes more of a set shot.

A notable uptick in consistency and heightened confidence after knocking back jumpers in succession has given O'Neale credence in the NBA circles.

Having long been enamored by the play of Lebron James, O'Neale has stressed the value of adapting to several positions on the floor.

Propelled by Elev8's Director of Basketball Development Cody Toppert, O'Neale has solidified his new focus.

Polishing up his handle, shooting a different variety of shots, and improving his ball handling through a more complex playbook,  O'Neale understands the power of the professional transition.

"There's nothing better than being versatile," O'Neale explained.

 "It gives you an advantage. Versatility has definitely evolved over time with the guard position.

Right now, I'm working at getting stronger and more physical and being able to knock down multiple shots. I'd like to be that defensive stopper who can guard a number of different positions."

As a strong-bodied guard, increased defensive tactics would give O'Neale the upside of a glue guy.

Toppert was quick to cite the deceptive athleticism and "sneaky explosiveness" of O'Neale. Capabilities at guarding multiple positions would give him a glue guy's upside in the NBA.

"He could be this year's Tyler Johnson," said Toppert, referencing the hyper-athletic Miami Heat guard, who went undrafted out of Fresno State in 2014.

"He's an undervalued prospect coming in, even though he's from the BCS conference. He's a mismatch. His passing in the pick-and-roll is something he didn't get a chance to showcase at Baylor. He's a bulldozer. He can take a smaller guard to the post and go to work."

A desire to work harder surely has the lofty schoolboy dreams morphing closer into reality.

Longer, more sweat-soaked hours, and a new commitment to fitness has helped him show out in NBA workouts. Though he admitted to battling a case of early jitters, the confidence and motivation O'Neale gained as one of two seniors during Baylor's 24-9 campaign has materialized.

"He shoots the ball at a much better rate than people think," said Toppert, referencing O'Neale's 45.6 field goal percentage.

"He can shoot it with a high rate of consistency."

He also shows up with a high rate of consistency, avoiding any multi-game ruts or spurts of stagnancy during his final season at Baylor.

Pushing players through painstaking workouts, applying innovative and methodical tactics to increase the skill-set has become a livelihood for Elev8's core of basketball triners.

"I was very impressed with how Pro Day went," said Elev8's Ganon Baker, a world class basketball guru with an arsenal of moves and fundamentally sound tactics.

"Cody Toppert did an outstanding job along with our staff to put it together. To have that many NBA teams in was remarkable. I was very excited to give these players the opportunity to shine."

Can't Knock The Tuttle

During an illustrious career at Northern Iowa, Seth Tuttle inserted his name in myriad categories across the program books. A double duty threat who authored unprecedented offensive efficiency, Tuttle averaged 15.5 points, 6.9 boards, and 3.3 assists during his senior year at

"Seth has an extremely high basketball IQ, the offense at Northern Iowa ran through Seth Tuttle," Toppert explained.

"The knock on Seth, however, is that he has a lack of strength and athletic ability to play the four in the NBA. His ability to make in-game reads and his versatility, particularly his ability to pass the basketball can and will help him at the next level."

Toppert continued, "We're talking about a First Team AP All-American here. He knows how to play the game."

He could play in the NBA, as ESPN's Jay Bilas publicly opined.

The multi-layered forward would need to pack considerable muscle onto his 6-foot-8, 240-pound frame should he bang with the behemoths and jumbo rim protectors of the NBA on  a nightly basis.

The court sense, the savvy during tense moments, and the ability to spread the floor with deft long-range bombs has kept the NBA aspirations intact.

During Tuttle's four seasons at Northern Iowa, his shooting percentage never dipped below 56 percent. He was again the picture of precision in 2014-15. As the focal point of every foe's scouting report, Tuttle decimated defenses to the tune of 63 percent field goal shooting.