This morning, the Knicks conducted their first pre-draft workout at the MSG Training Center in Greenburgh, New York, with both team president Donnie Walsh and head coach Mike D'Antoni observing (they were not available to the media). The prospects included:
Cory Joseph, a 6-3, 185-pound freshman point guard from Texas
Xavier Silas (no relation to Paul Silas), a 6-5, 198-pound senior shooting guard from Northern Illinois
Willie Reed (no relation to former Knicks great Willis Reed), a 6-9, 220-pound junior power forward from St. Louis
Greg Smith, a 6-10, 250-pound sophomore center/power forward from Fresno State
Afterwards, I spoke with Joseph and Smith, who both play positions the Knicks may especially look to fill in the draft or during free agency. The first interview below is with Joseph, a 2010 McDonald's All-American who led Findlay Prep to the No. 3 ESPN RISE team ranking in the country last year, averaging 18.6 points and 5.1 assists. At Texas, he started as a freshman and averaged 10.4 points, three assists and made 41.3 percent of his attempts from downtown, as the Longhorns prevailed to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
Joseph shoots and defends well man-to-man like Toney Douglas, but where he separates himself is that he has the early understanding of knowing when to transition from a scorer to a distributor. Also like Douglas, Joseph is considered an early second-rounder, but he could creep up everyone's draft board because of his potential and get chosen late in the first round. In 2009, Douglas went 29th to the Knicks. This year, the Knicks have the 17th pick. But keep in mind, Joseph has not signed with an agent yet and has until May 8 to withdraw from the early-entry list if he wants to retain his college eligibility.
At the end of the day, though, the Knicks will probably favor a center/power forward who excels at crashing the boards and has the future ability to be a back-to-the-basket scorer. But before that's determined, let's first hear from Joseph.
How did the workout go?
The workout went well. We did a couple of one-on-one drills and two-on-two drills. It was a great workout. I thought that we competed. Greg and Willie competed in the inside, and me and Xavier competed on the outside.
Was today your first one in the pre-draft process?
No, I had a workout with [Los Angeles Clippers assistant] coach [John] Lucas last weekend in Houston.
What did the Knicks tell you about what they're looking for from a point guard prospect?
They didn't tell me what they were looking for, specifically. It's just about going out there and competing and just playing hard. That's basically it.
Did you watch the Knicks at all during the season or once they got Carmelo Anthony?
Yeah, I had. Carmelo went off for 42 points [in Game 2 against the Celtics], but still unfortunately they lost in the first round. Chauncey went down and Amare started getting back spasms, and I think that hurt them a little bit. But they're a great team.
When Toney Douglas stepped in to replace Billups, the team struggled at times to find a flow in their offense and get open shots. Did you find yourself thinking at any point, I could help the team here or there?
I mean, Toney Douglas is a great player. He did great I think. He knocked down open shots, came off the screens, found the big men. I think he did great.
Is there some buzz among the prospects about wanting to play for the Knicks now that they got Melo, and of course STAT?
Of course, of course, playing at the mecca of basketball. I mean, New York, Madison Square Garden, the Knicks. There's always buzz no matter who they have. Now with Melo and them, it's a great team and they can do great things.
How valuable was today's workout in deciding whether or not you want to stay in the draft?
It's valuable. I might go up to the New Jersey workout [this weekend] to get some feedback from that, and then make my decision from there.
Is the potential for a lockout a factor as you weigh your decision?
I mean, of course the lockout comes into your mind. It's just a matter of putting down the pros and cons, and just seeing which way is best to go. I'm not sure yet. I'll make my decision soon.
What kinds of things will you be working on this summer to prepare for your rookie season, if you are drafted?
I'm working on everything. My strength a lot, my quick release; trying to get the ball up quicker. My shot. Everything. The pick-and-roll game. My handle.
What NBA point guards do you like watching?
I love Steve Nash, Deron Williams, Chris Paul. I love Chauncey Billups.
Have you and former Findlay Prep and Texas teammate Tristan Thompson been in touch at all during the pre-draft process?
He hasn't worked out yet. He's working out with coach Lucas too.
What did you take away from high school and college that will help you transition to the league?
Just always compete. Ever since my Findlay Prep days and Texas, we just got out there every day and competed, and tried to learn something new every day.
Outside of basketball, what do you enjoy doing in your free time?
I don't really play video games; maybe go to the movies. The mall, shop a little bit.
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