El Segundo — The Los Angeles Lakers hosted Texas Tech guard Jarrett Culver for a workout on Saturday in preparation for the 2019 NBA Draft on June 20.
After his workout, Culver walked over to the sidelines to get a pat on the back from the coaches that were there, including Miles Simon, the last coach standing from Luke Walton’s staff. However, Culver also got a surprise visit from his potential future teammate, LeBron James.
“He was just kind of sitting back and watching. You know, you got LeBron in the gym, that’s amazing to have as a young kid like me. After the workout, he just told me to keep working. It was good to have him in the gym and to meet LeBron,” Culver said.
Culver said he was shocked to see James at the facility even though he obviously knew that he played for the Lakers.
“I did not expect it,” Culver said. “I mean, it’s LeBron James. You hear about him, and just seeing him. He’s an icon.”
For the first time in several months, though, the focus at the UCLA Health Training Center wasn’t on James.
Coming off of an impressive sophomore season with the Red Raiders, Culver will be among the prospects the Lakers consider when they’re on the clock with the No. 4 pick in the draft later this month. During the pre-draft process, Culver said he wants to show teams that he can play both sides of the ball at a high level.
“I’m a two way player — an elite two-way player. I can score, I can play defense, so I think people see a lot in me,” Culver said.
Culver believes his two-way play makes him a natural fit with the Lakers, particularly alongside James.
“Being a two-way player. Being able to operate with LeBron. I know he’s going to have the ball a lot, and being able to play defense. I feel like I can adjust to defense in the league very well, guard guys, and playmaking,” Culver said.
The one thing that makes Culver an iffy with the James-led Lakers, though, is his shooting, or lack thereof.
Through 38 games with Texas Tech last season, Culver shot a discouraging 30.4 percent from behind the 3-point line while attempting 4.2 threes per game. In his freshman season, he shot 38.2 percent on 3.9 attempts per game.
Culver admitted that he changed his shooting form from his freshman year to his sophomore year, but he said his drop in efficiency had more to do with him becoming the No. 1 option on offense for his team.
“I was taking tougher shots from my freshman to sophomore year, so I feel like there’s a percentage change,” Culver said. “I’m still confident in my shot and feel like every shot I shoot’s going in. That’s what you supposed to feel as a shooter, so I’m still confident in it.”
Despite his shooting struggles, Culver was still able to average 18.5 points per game — the third-highest scoring average in the Big 12 — because of his effectiveness from mid range. In a league that values 3-point shooting, that might not be a key selling point for a team, but Culver believes there is still some benefit to having a mid range game in today’s NBA.
“I feel like it does have value, not only just the shot, but when a player has the ball in the mid range area, they can operate. People can cut off of them, they can kick out and they can also get to the rim, so there’s a lot of things you can do from that area,” Culver said.
If the Lakers liked what they saw from Culver on Saturday, he’ll have the opportunity to build on his all-around game in Los Angeles next season.
All quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. You can follow Christian on Twitter at @RadRivas.