Former Kansas University and University of Memphis power forward Tarik Black’s name isn’t showing up on any of the many mock drafts as the 2014 NBA Draft approaches.
It’s a fact, however, that league general managers and scouts are well-aware of the 6-foot-8, 252-pound Black, who, according to various Internet reports has had workouts for his hometown Memphis Grizzlies, plus the Milwaukee Bucks, Philadelphia 76ers, Houston Rockets, Phoenix Suns and at least one of the Los Angeles teams, as well as unidentified others.
Black — he averaged 5.5 points and 3.9 boards with 17 blocks in 33 games (15 starts) in his senior season at KU — is listed as the No. 74-ranked prospect on Chad Ford’s 100-player “ESPN Big Board.”
In all, 60 players will be taken in Thursday’s two-round NBA Draft in Brooklyn, New York.
“He can take a hit. He can finish around the rim. It’s not like a ‘put-the-ball-up-at-12-feet’ kind of finish. It’s a little similar to Zach (Randolph, Grizzlies) where he keeps a guy on his body and just gets it off the glass before somebody can come over and block it,” Memphis coach David Joerger told the Memphis Commercial-Appeal after Black’s individual workout at FedExForum. “He did a nice job,” added Joerger, whose team has just one pick in the draft — No. 22 of the first round.
Even if Black doesn’t get drafted, he’s likely to land a spot on one of the 30 teams’ summer league squads.
“I’m definitely going to have to be an energy guy, earn my way up — be a rebounder, throw my body around a little bit, use my athleticism,” Black told myfoxmemphis.com.
“The biggest transition is just knowing what the coach is looking for. In college, every year something is different, something changes. Roles change. Players change. In the NBA, when you come work out for these teams, you have to recognize already when you come in the gym, what role do I have to play on the team? That’s hard to figure out when you are transitioning day after day from this team, that team, just trying to show coaches what you bring to the table for their team,” Black added.
Black was asked by Memphis reporters to provide a scouting report on himself.
“Well, for right now, don’t let him get close to the basket offensively. He has good touch around the rim,” Black said. “Try to keep him on the perimeter as much as possible. On defense, it’d probably be the same thing, take him out to the perimeter, make him move his feet and guard on the perimeter, which I can do, but this is a scouting report,” he added, laughing.
Black said he “learned a lot” in his one year at KU. He played three years for the Memphis Tigers.
“I was blessed to make that transition,” Black told myfoxmemphis.com. “It was a great opportunity for me. Coach (Bill) Self has a lot of knowledge. He’s produced a lot of players similar to myself especially in the last five years. He knew coming in the things I needed to learn, what I needed to work on to get better and what I need to understand to play at this level. There are things he tried to teach me day in and day out. I still talk to him now.”
Black says he weighs about the same as he did when he arrived at KU.
“I haven’t dropped a pound, honestly. I toned up a little bit, got on the weight program,” Black said. “As soon as I came in, Hudy (Andrea, strength coach) assessed my body, knew what I had to work on. We got the work done. I knew my body was a good thing. I definitely worked on it hard out there.
“It was my explosiveness, getting more lean obviously, turning some of the body fat I had into muscle. She told me I didn’t have to lose weight like that because I carry my weight well. It was a matter of becoming more explosive, carrying it the way I should.”
One question Black has been asked at all his NBA-workout stops is if he’s going to try out for the NFL’s Green Bay Packers at some point. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who attended a KU game last winter, became enamored with Black as a possible tight end target.
Trying to become an NFL receiver remains a longshot for Black, who figures to play basketball overseas if he doesn’t make the NBA.
“From what I’ve heard they are very serious. Me and Aaron Rodgers have texted a couple times,” Black told Memphis reporters. “I’ve talked to a couple teams. My dream is to play basketball. I am chasing the basketball dream. Basketball is what I want to do.
“If I am blessed with the (NFL) opportunity, I have to look into it,” he added. “How many people can say they have NFL inquiries? Not many people at all get that opportunity. If I’m blessed with it, I’m going to look into it. My dream is to play basketball. It’s what I wanted to do my whole life.”
He was asked by NBA.com’s Denver site about possibly being a two-sport pro athlete.
“Hypothetically speaking, even if basketball and football didn’t run at the same time, think about the grind that’s on the body. You’re talking about the NBA, which is 82 games not including playoffs, and the NFL, which is 16 weeks of heart, grit and grind,” Black said.
“So, I know I have a nice build, but I don’t think anybody – unless you’re Superman – can withstand that. I’ve been looking into it because when you’re presented something like that, you can’t just turn it down. It’s a blessing. I want to be a basketball player. That’s my passion. I’m not going to give up on it now.”
CBS speaks: CBSsports.com’s Ken Berger reports that the Cleveland Cavaliers, who pick No. 1 in Thursday’s draft, are “leaning” toward taking Duke’s Jabari Parker with Milwaukee then selecting Andrew Wiggins of KU at No. 2.
Sixers rumors: Philadelphia Inquirer writer Keith Pompey says Wiggins “remains their (Sixers) prime target” in the draft. Meanwhile Bob Cooney of the Philly Daily News says the “Sixers are very much interested in grabbing Joel Embiid (injured former KU player) at No. 3 should he fall to them.”
According to the Inquirer, Philly, which has the No. 3 and 10 picks, could trade a draft pick or two and/or Michael Carter-Williams or Thaddeus Young in order to move up in the draft.
Pompey says Dante Exum and Marcus Smart worked out for the Sixers on Sunday.
Other rumors regarding the Sixers as reported by Pompey: Embiid of KU remains a real option. Also, he cited an ESPN report indicating the Lakers could trade Steve Nash and the No. 7 pick to the Sixers for Carter-Williams and Young. In that scenario, the Sixers would take Exum with the third pick.
Bucks on Wiggins: Milwaukee Bucks scouting director Billy McKinney spoke to the Journal-Sentinel about Wiggins: “He’s a high-character person. Normal guy with no sense of entitlement. He can be coached and coached hard, which is critical when you talk about players of this magnitude.
“When they get to the NBA they’re going to have some adversity and coaches have to be able to coach them. That’s what I’m looking at with all those guys. Will they take coaching?
“When people talk about Wiggins, they talk about his first-rate athleticism. Just a tremendous athlete. His shooting has improved, but it’s something he’ll have to continue working on as with his ball-handling, being a two-guard or a small forward. He’s going to have to do more than spot up and shoot as he did in college a lot. But he’s a good rebounder for his size,” McKinney added.