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Speedy point guard Kira Lewis rising fast on NBA Draft lists

Alabama guard Kira Lewis Jr. plays against Vanderbilt

Alabama guard Kira Lewis Jr. plays against Vanderbilt in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020, in Nashville, Tenn.  Credit: AP/Mark Humphrey

Kira Lewis admits that he doesn’t try to keep up with mock drafts, but he has noticed that in this odd offseason heading toward next Wednesday’s NBA Draft he has managed to find his name rising maybe more than any other prospect.

There was no NCAA Tournament to have a shining moment. There were no workouts with other point guard prospects put on the floor against him, allowing him to rise. The individual workouts and interviews were limited.

But the speedy 6-3 point guard from the University of Alabama has seen his stock rise from a borderline first-rounder to a lottery pick, and among the teams he has worked out for include the Knicks, who hold the No. 8 pick.

"I wouldn’t say I follow it, but I do hear it," Lewis said in a phone call Thursday morning. "I don’t want to think just because of a mock draft that it is supposed to happen. A lot of things are supposed to happen.

"To be honest, I guess people and the scouts are looking at a lot of film. The way I played from the beginning of the year to the end of the year, I got more confident in how I played. Then it was the only thing I had to do while coronavirus was going on was work. I guess I did open their eyes. If I didn’t play well they wouldn’t be watching the film and moving me up in mock drafts."

If this seems like a strange path to the NBA it is not any stranger than the path that Lewis took to get to the workouts this summer. He finished high school in three years and after a highly contested recruiting process chose Alabama, where he not only became the youngest player to appear in a game that season in college, but started every game.

After he was recruited by Avery Johnson the former NBA player and coach stepped down after his freshman season and was replaced by Nate Oats. He entered the transfer portal, but after meeting with Oats and working out for him, he opted to remain in place and flourished this past season.

"In high school it was just challenging myself," Lewis said. "The competition where I went to high school wasn’t the best, so I decided to go ahead and challenge myself, get better. Then just looking at the age thing in the NBA, how they look at the upside, I know when I went into the first year I’d have that year of experience early and still be young.

"When Coach Oats came in he showed me how they played at Buffalo, the spacing, and that he wanted to play fast. That fit my nature. I had to meet with him, go through a couple of workouts and in my mind, I saw a good situation for me."

He said he has worked throughout the offseason on improving the parts of his game that need work, getting stronger while still keeping his speed intact. His game has been compared to De’Aaron Fox — a comparison he enjoys. He has tried to model his game after the Kings’ speedy guard.

"I feel like most of my game translates to the NBA," he said. "But anyone going to a new organization there are some things you have to get better at, that might not work at that level. But the majority the way I play I think works in the league."

New York Sports