With the 2018 NBA draft just a little over two weeks away, the Los Angeles Lakers hosted six more players for a pre-draft workout Tuesday at the UCLA Health Training Center in El Segundo. While there were a few impressive players in the gym on Tuesday, the most intriguing prospect of the group was Anfernee Simons because of his unorthodox path to the NBA.
Simons, a five-star prospect out of Edgewater High School in Orlando, Florida, opted not to go to college despite getting offers from a dozen NCAA Division I basketball programs. Instead, he stayed in Florida and enrolled in IMG Academy, a private boarding school for students hoping to pursue a professional career in sports.
His decision to not play basketball at the collegiate level might have caused his draft stock to slip, but Simons wants to reassure teams like the Lakers that he didn’t miss out on anything by skipping college.
“To me, that’s not the case,” Simons said. “IMG is kind of like a college year. I was still able to get stronger in the weight room and and stuff, so I feel like that helped me a lot as well.”
Simons might have gotten a little stronger while at IMG, but the 18-year-old guard still might have the least NBA-ready body in the draft. At the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago last month, Simons weighed in at 183 pounds with a 7.7 percent body fat, per NBA.com.
He’s going to need to add some weight to his 6-foot-3 frame before he can contribute at the next level, but according to Simons he’s not off to a bad start.
“I think I did pretty good,” Simons said. “I showed I can pretty much do everything — pass the ball, shoot the ball — just showed my feel for the game ... me being so young, I feel like I can still play with anybody. Honestly I wanted to show I can come in, play and be effective.”
Simons also said he got the attention of president of basketball operations Magic Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka, who were at the practice facility to watch him workout on Tuesday.
“They said ‘you played really well’ and they were impressed by me coming in, being so young and playing like I’m older than everybody else,” Simons said.
Simons has already worked out for a handful of teams and reportedly has five more workouts before the NBA draft on June 21. Simons is projected by most mock drafts to go late in the first round, around where the Lakers will be picking.
If the Lakers are looking for someone that can contribute as soon as next season, Simons might not be their guy, but if they’re willing to wait a few years for him to develop, there’s a decent chance he blossoms into a solid two-way combo guard.
For an updating list of players the Lakers have worked out to date, check out our pre-draft workout tracker here.