The bosses watched them play and the media heard them talk. On both counts, pro basketball hopefuls Corey Hawkins and Mikh McKinney passed their tests Friday, their first high-profile stop back in town since tearing it up in college for UC Davis and Sacramento State.
Validation on their performances in the workout came from Vlade Divac, vice president of basketball and franchise operations and, increasingly, the face of the Kings.
“Hawk is a good shooter, and he understands basketball very well,” Divac told reporters about Hawkins. “You see he is passing the ball very well. I think he can be part of the NBA.”
As for McKinney, “Mikh is a great shooter,” Divac said. “He is doing very well, with those threes. He’s got to be a little bit stronger, but shooting wise, he’s ready.”
Never miss a local story.
Kings officials didn’t raise the curtains for media until workouts were nearly finished. But anybody who watched them at UC Davis and Sac State already knows their games.
Hawkins, the Big West Conference Player of the Year, earned honorable mention All-America honors from The Associated Press, thanks to a 20.9 scoring average and solid overall play. McKinney made the Big Sky Conference first team. They led their teams to their best regular seasons ever at the NCAA Division I level.
It was Hawkins’ third workout for an NBA team; he’s already showed his stuff in Philadelphia and Dallas. He has looks coming up in Los Angeles, Portland, Oakland, Phoenix, Memphis, Salt Lake City, Washington, Boston and Cleveland. He expects to play in the NBA summer league, and he thinks he’s got a chance in the draft as a late second-rounder.
“It only takes one team to like you,” he told the media scrum.
They worked him hard Friday, but Hawkins, a 6-foot-3 guard, said he had a great time being around the other guys in the group – Charles Jackson of Tennessee Tech and Grant High School, Will Davis II of UC Irvine and Sacramento High School, Shaquielle McKissic of Arizona State and Alan Williams of UC Santa Barbara, as well as McKinney. Hawkins liked the way he played and felt he shot well.
“I just think my game translates,” said Hawkins, son of former NBA player Hersey. “I’m very unselfish. I couldn’t care less about scoring. I don’t take a ton of shots, even in college. I’m a great team player. The thing I have to do is give the team morale and confidence and just be a great locker room guy. I get along great with everybody.”
McKinney, a 6-1 shooter, also liked the way his first workout for the pros went. He’s on tap for audiences with Golden State and Philly, and he also hopes for a summer-league shot.
“The goal is just to show what I can do best,” McKinney said. “The rest will come. It’s out of your hands after you step off the court.”
McKinney, whose last name rhymes with skinny, nearly disappears when he turns sideways. He only weighs 170 pounds, which may not be enough to ward off hounding NBA players like Tony Allen. In-N-Out was around the corner on Del Paso Road, but McKinney disdains the Double-Double.
“I don’t want to be unhealthy and put on too much weight at once,” McKinney said. “But definitely, that is one of my biggest projects right now, is to gain weight.
“You’ve just got to stay on the nutrition. You want to give the engine good oil.”
Divac said Friday’s workout served as outreach to locals to let them know anything’s possible. Play for UC Davis, play for Sac State, play high school ball here and go to college somewhere else, play well there – you might get a workout with the Kings. You might get a chance in the summer league or with the Kings’ Development League team in Reno.
“The Kings are representing the community and the town, so our first step is always going to be to bring those kids to work out for us,” he said.
Divac offered no insight into the draft.
“We’re looking for good players,” he said, preferably a shooting guard or a small forward or a power forward, although they wouldn’t overlook a point guard or a center, which just about covers everything.
As for Friday’s collection, the first name Divac mentioned when asked if anybody jumped out at him was McKissic. At 6-5, 200 pounds, he averaged 12.4 points, 4.7 rebounds and 1.6 steals for the Sun Devils last season.
McKissic also did a little time for burglary in Seattle when he was 19. But last year he told the paper there he has since grown up from a rough upbringing.
Divac called the group over when the workout ended.
“I asked if they finished school, to make sure that they finish school,” he said. “As time goes by, it’s very important for their lives. I told them to stay positive. Sometimes things work out their way, sometimes not. Just be positive, work hard, and believe in what you can do.”