When the Lakers announced the names of the six prospects they’d be working on out on Saturday, they went with VCU guard Nah’Shon Hyland’s given name. But after his session on the court, he said he prefers to go by his nickname: Bones.
“It just fits me so perfectly,” Hyland said.
The origins of the name come from Hyland’s wire-thin frame. When he was younger, a close friend started calling him “Bones” because of how skinny he was, and it was so perfect that Hyland has just stuck with it, even being listed in mock drafts simply as “Bones Hyland,” as if that’s the name his parents gave him.
“Shout out to her, for sure,” Hyland said, referencing the friend who gave him the moniker he now goes by. “I just ran with it from there, and it just stuck to me.”
For Hyland, though, what teams will call him is less important than that they’ll call him at all. The 6’3 guard is not a consensus first-round prospect, with Sam Vecenie of The Athletic projecting him 37th, and Jonathan Givony of ESPN ranking him as the 30th-best prospect available in the 2021 class. He seems like a certainty to be drafted, but whether it will be in the first or second round is the big question he and his agent are surely trying to determine.
Both of those rankings are quite a few slots below where the Lakers are picking at No. 22, but whether they brought him in to see if he could rise with a strong workout showing, or to evaluate whether he’d be worth trading back or buying a second-round pick for, Los Angeles still invited Hyland to El Segundo for a workout. And whether the team takes him or not, just getting to go through drills and play in the UCLA Health Training center while wearing the purple and gold is an experience Hyland will never forget.
“Honestly, when I first got my COVID test yesterday, just looking at the outside, the black building, it’s just like ‘wow, you’re at the Lakers’ facility.’ It’s one of the best franchises and organizations in history,” Hyland said. “Just coming in here first and seeing everything, all the banners, all the greats, seeing guys who’ve been in the program more than 30 years, even 60 years, just being around that energy, it’s just like ‘wow, I’m in the Lakers facility.’
“If I get picked to come here, it’s going to be a dream come true, a blessing just to be around just greats. You have something to strive for,” Hyland continued. “It’s just like ‘wow, I’m actually in here.’ You don’t want to take it for granted.”
Hyland felt like his workout went “great,” despite sustaining a minor injury that held him out of the Lakers Mentality drill at the end of the session.
“Guys got after it. I feel like I showed a whole lot of my offensive skills at a high level,” Hyland said. “I feel like I showed a lot. The workout was great, for sure.”
Those skills include an ability to play both on and off the ball, according to Hyland, who — like with his nickname — prefers a different descriptor than the “combo guard” label he’s often tagged with.
“Honestly, I’m just a hooper,” Hyland said. “People list me as a 1, people list me as a 2, I can play either position. I can play off the ball. I can shoot the lights out off the ball, I can shoot the lights out on the ball. I’m a very underrated passer, underrated playmaker. It just shows you my versatility, and I can do either or both at a high level for sure.”
And despite probably not being touted by draft analysts as highly as he’d like to be, Hyland still feels like he absolutely made the right decision to declare for the 2021 class. No matter what name you call him by, what you think of his game, or when he’s called in the draft, a season that saw his VCU team eliminated from March Madness for multiple positive COVID tests has taught Hyland to sit back and just focus on the positives in life.
“I knew I was ready to take this jump, and I just want to wake up with a smile every day and achieve my dream,” Hyland said.
Will the Lakers be that team to give him that opportunity? We’ll find out when the 2021 NBA Draft takes place on July 29.