As Brynton Lemar crossed the court to meet reporters following his pre-draft workout at the Kings’ facility Thursday, he was informed that Kings assistant coach Bob Thornton, standing nearby, had attended UC Irvine.
“I didn’t know you were an Anteater,” Lemar said, grinning. “Come on!”
“Why you hatin’?” Thornton replied.
Lemar, of course, was a senior guard on the UC Davis team that toppled UC Irvine in the Big West Conference championship in March to earn the program’s first NCAA Tournament berth.
A 6-foot-4, 195-pound shooting guard, Lemar led the Aggies with 16.1 points per game last season and was first-team All-Big West. Now he’s trying to prove he belongs on an NBA roster.
Thursday, he got a glimpse of his competition. The Kings brought in six players for their first pre-draft workout and all but Lemar played college in either the Big 12 or Mountain West conferences, regularly facing stronger opponents than Lemar saw in the Big West.
It is the same challenge that Corey Hawkins, the former UC Davis star whom Lemar sat behind in his early college seasons, faced during the pre-draft process two years ago. So, before his workout, Lemar sought Hawkins’ advice.
“He told me, basically, don’t back down,” Lemar said. “Just be fearless.
“I didn’t play against Kansas all the time. I didn’t play against Kansas State or Iowa State. But I know I can play at this level at any time.”
An all-around contributor at UC Davis, Lemar ranked in the top five in the Big West last season in points, 3-pointers and free throws and led the conference in minutes played. He said he believes his game can translate to the NBA level.
“I think I can bring leadership, defense,” Lemar said. “I feel like I know my role really well. I can shoot the ball, handle the ball, play off pick-and-roll. I feel like I can just be that solid glue guy, night in and night out. Hopefully I can potentially be a King, or wherever I go.”
As of now, Lemar said he has no other workouts scheduled but has heard Milwaukee and Utah both have interest in him. He would fit those trips around finishing his senior year at UC Davis. A communications major, Lemar is currently an intern with the Davis Enterprise newspaper and has also interned for a U.S. District Court judge.
Sports law interests Lemar – but only as a pursuit after his professional basketball career has ended.
“I know I’m going to end up playing somewhere,” Lemar said. “I just don’t know where. That’s the thing that’s scary.”
Also participating in Thursday’s workout were Kansas State guard Wesley Iwundu, Kansas forward Landen Lucas, BYU center Eric Mika, Iowa State guard Naz Mitrou-Long and Nebraska guard Tai Webster.
Iwundu (No. 56) and Mika (No. 79) are listed on draftexpress.com’s top 100 prospects. Iwundu, a 6-7 shooting guard, averaged 13 points and 6.3 rebounds per game last season for the Wildcats. Mika, listed at 6-10, averaged 20.3 points and 9.2 rebounds in his first season following a two-year Mormon mission.
Head coach Dave Joerger was among the Kings’ personnel on hand for the workout. He chatted briefly with Lemar after it ended.
“Good stuff,” Joerger told Lemar. “I like your game.”