Charlotte Hornets

Louisville guard Terry Rozier appears on the rise in this NBA draft

Louisville guard Terry Rozier’s audition Sunday with the Charlotte Hornets was his ninth workout with 18 days remaining until the draft. He’s already scheduled to work out for seven more teams. (Nell Redmond photo)
Louisville guard Terry Rozier’s audition Sunday with the Charlotte Hornets was his ninth workout with 18 days remaining until the draft. He’s already scheduled to work out for seven more teams. (Nell Redmond photo)

Louisville guard Terry Rozier is a popular player in the weeks leading up to the June 25 NBA draft.

So popular he might have to trim back his workout obligations: His audition Sunday with the Charlotte Hornets was his ninth workout with 18 days remaining until the draft. He’s already scheduled to work out for seven more teams.

Rozier has reportedly shown well enough that he’s now solidly among the 30 players in the first round, which would qualify him for a two-year guarantee under the rookie wage scale. That’s welcome news, although Rozier says he doesn’t take such predictions for granted. So he’ll press on, but with the understanding he needs not to wear out his body and potentially hurt himself.

“I might have to take some off because I know some teams want to bring me back already,” Rozier said after the session at Time Warner Cable Arena.

It is commonplace in the NBA for teams with a high interest in a player to schedule a call-back workout, sometimes to rematch him against specific players that team is also considering. Sunday Rozier was in a mix of players mostly of second-round rating. One of those players, Louisiana State guard Kenny Smith, had to pull out of the workout, so the Hornets filled in with Wagner’s Marcus Burton, who lives in the Charlotte area.

As Rozier’s agent, Aaron Turner, receives more call-back requests, he and Rozier will have to strike a balance in how best to use his remaining time and energy before the draft. The Hornets pick ninth overall in the first round and 39th overall in the second round, so if Rozier has climbed safely into the first round, he’d likely be chosen between those two selections.

Rozier is a 6-foot-1 guard who turned pro after his sophomore season at Louisville. His scoring jumped dramatically (from seven points per game as a freshman to 17.1 as a sophomore), but his shooting suffered. After shooting 37 percent from the college 3-point line as a freshman he made just 30.6 percent of his 3s as a sophomore.

Rozier will need to play mostly point guard to make it in the NBA, but his measurements at the NBA Combine in Chicago work in his favor: He had a 6-foot-8 wingspan and a 38-inch vertical leap, both of which compensate for his height. He led the ACC in steals at two per game.

“It’s good” he’s hearing positive feedback, Rozier said, “but that’s not going to stop me from pushing every time I step on the court. I need to prove something.”

Rozier thinks his performance in 5-on-5 games at the Combine made a difference:

“I got to play in a lot space, playing the point guard spot and sacrificing for my team. At the two-guard last season I had to score the ball a lot and maybe that left doubts” whether he could approach the game as a facilitator.

Uber grad student: There’s an interesting back story on Xavier center Matt Stainbrook, one of the other players the Hornets worked out Sunday.

Stainbrook was a fifth-year senior in 2014-15 taking graduate-level classes. He gave up his scholarship so that Xavier could award it to his younger brother, Tim, a walk-on.

Stainbrook made ends meet the last school year by becoming an Uber driver in Cincinnati.

“It’s a lot of fun. Xavier basketball is pretty popular in Cincinnati, so I’d often pick up people who knew who I was,” said the 6-foot-10 Stainbrook. “I’d say the thing I got a lot was people wanting to take pictures with me (on night drives) and forget their flashes were on.”

Uber is a service that matches part-time drivers with people needing rides. He did it in a gold 2004 Buick Rendezvous. “Stylish!” Stainbrook joked.

Monday workout: The Hornets have another workout Monday that is scheduled to include at least two guards with first-round potential: Notre Dame point guard Jerian Grant and Georgia State shooting guard R.J. Hunter.

Grant is the son of former NBA player Harvey Grant. Jerian Grant’s brother, Jerami, was a rookie last season for the Philadelphia 76ers.

Hunter played for his father, coach Ron Hunter, at Georgia State. He averaged 19.7 points his junior year before declaring for the draft. His 3-point percentage fell from 40 percent as a sophomore to 30.5 percent as a junior.

Others at Monday’s Hornets workout: Wyoming’s Larry Nance, Jr., (son of the former Cleveland Cavaliers forward), Kentucky’s Aaron Harrison and Presbyterian College’s Jordan Downing, who played high school ball at Hopewell in Huntersville.

Bonnell: 704-358-5129: @rick_bonnell

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