Hernandez, a guard who formerly played college ball alongside current NBA player Speedy Claxton, has been a full-time trainer since he founded his company, Pro Hoops Academy. Hernandez conducted this workout with another of his companys trainers, Ross Burns, who also played college ball not too long ago, playing at UMass on the same team as current NBA player Marcus Camby.
Hernandez is an up-and-coming trainer whos been building his profile over the past few years, working with such players as Speedy Claxton, Wally Szczerbiak, Cedric Simmons, and many other current and former college players, some who have gone on to careers overseas. Hernandez also runs a skills camp for NCAA players every summer, which will take place at St. Johns University this August.
The workout we saw today was split into two sessions, the first featuring Antoine Agudio and Roy Bright, with the second featuring James Mays and James Gist. Hernandez likes to work with no more than two players at a time when possible, so he can give attention to detail and really focus on individual skill development. The two separate workouts we saw were similar in execution, but also specifically tailored to the positions the players play, with Bright and Agudio working on more perimeter-oriented drills, while Mays and Gist spent more time around the basket, though they also mixed in a fair share of work from mid-range.
The workouts began with standard warm-ups of stretching, jogging, and shooting some close-ranged shots, followed by a lot of spot-up shooting, with Agudio and Bright shooting from 15 feet, college three-point range, and NBA three-point range. Mays and Gist took the same volume of jump shots, but with all theirs coming from the 15 foot range. The rest of the workouts were geared towards various moves with the basketball, often with the players performing a specific handful of moves in combination, doing each series for around 5-10 repetitions from each side of the court and with opposite hands. The guards worked on crossovers, jab steps, ball fake, stepback jumpers, spin moves, stutter steps, and using your back pivot foot on drives to gain separation. After performing plenty of different combinations of moves, Hernandez allowed the trainees to freelance a bit, attacking from the wing and using their own choice of dribble-drive combinations, showing off their creativity with the basketball. For the big men, Hernandez also ran them through some of the dribble-drive drills, but spent most of the time working on the low block with drop steps, turnaround jumpers, hook shots, and various fakes.
Only so much could be taken from a workout in this setting, as there were no competitive 1-on-1s or 2-on-2s to be seen, with the emphasis clearly being on skill development. Still, there were some things to be learned here, and skill development is a very necessary part of the training process, especially in the case of Agudio, Bright, and Gist, with Gist and Agudio returning to school for their senior seasons, and Bright likely to do the same, even though hes testing the waters this year. In Mays case, hes putting in hard work on his jump shot and perimeter skills, in anticipation of a possible transition to the small forward position in the future.
James Mays, 69, SF/PF, Junior, Clemson
After his impressive physique, the first thing youd noticed about Mays in this workout would have to be his shooting mechanics, as theyre fairly unorthodox and not especially pretty. He has a very awkward shooting motion, with a bit of a push shot thats in front of his body, not fully extending his shooting arm, which has a tendency to drift right at times. For all the ugliness of his mechanics, though, Mays has excellent touch, and one thing he is consistent with is his wrist motion, which doesnt have any problems, as he always gets excellent rotation on the ball and gets good bounces off the rim. He also looked decently effective shooting the ball from the mid-range here, hitting for 40-of-66 from 15 feet out, and Hernandez said theyre doing some work on his shooting mechanics, specifically with his shots trajectory. Still, theres only so much you can do in the three or four weeks they have to prepare prior to Mays going off to workout for NBA teams, so this is something Mays will have to continue working on in the future.
Mays showed off some of his explosiveness in the post-up drills, finishing with some powerful jams off of his dropsteps, which he showed good footwork on, something he occasionally flashed at Clemson this past season. Mays also looked good with his touch on finesse moves, especially on his right-handed hook shots, though he struggled a bit converting on left-handed shots, even though he looked fairly comfortable with them. Mays looked fluid going between shot-fakes and moves, as hes obviously put in a lot of work going through Hernandezs various series of drills in the past few weeks.
After working on the low-block for awhile, the drills moved to the mid-block, where Mays would have to put the ball on the floor for a few dribbles while also mixing in some moves. He looked much more comfortable with the moves that were predominantly right hand-based, doing a good job going through and into all the fakes and step-through moves, albeit without a defender on him. He did a good job of holding his pivot and displayed good footwork throughout the workout, hopefully adding some more moves he can consistently go to on the block in real-game situations, something he didnt show a great propensity for in college.
Next the workout moved onto some drills that also incorporated mid-range and three-point shooting, where Mays was actually able to hit a few college three-pointers. The workout concluded with some extensive pick-and-roll drills, with Hernandez diagramming out six different ways to play the pick-and-roll, with him playing the point guard role and Mays playing the big man role, communicating with one another throughout the drill to designate which pick-and-roll move to run. Mays did a good job communicating with Hernandez on the drill, and with his explosiveness and good touch, he should be a solid pick-and-roll player at the next level, while also having the potential of becoming a reliable pick-and-pop player if he continues working on his jump shot.
Mays will be playing at the Orlando pre-draft camp beginning tonight, where he should try to have an impact performance along the lines of what energy players Renaldo Balkman and Louis Amundson did last year. If he can do that and exhibit some skills he didnt show consistently at Clemson, he could put himself in late first round discussions for this years draft. Further down in this article, Mays sat down to answer a few questions about his training and his potential at the next level.
James Gist, 68, SF/PF, Junior, Maryland
Gist really lit it up in the mid-range shooting drills, hitting for 46-of-61 from about 15 feet out, exhibiting solid overall form, though he doesnt always hold his follow through and he doesnt fully extend his shot. Still, his form is consistent and his release point is high, and hes obviously effective from the mid-range, something he should do more of next season. Gist also shot .429 from three-point range this past season, albeit on only 21 attempts. He hit a few three-pointers during the drill session here, though they didnt spend much time working on that, but it appear Gist has the potential to develop at least college three-point range.
On the post drills, Gist looked really strong with his right-handed hook shot, barely missing on it, and overall showed good footwork and fluidity with his moves, though he looked a bit more comfortable with everything that was right hand-oriented. Gist needs to continue to work on his post and mid-range game, as it would help him to more consistently create his own scoring. Gist has the potential to have a real breakout senior season, with Ibekwe, D.J. Strawberry, and Mike Jones all not returning to school, which could put a lot more of the scoring load on his shoulders, something he may or may not be able to handle. Hes someone well probably see at one or both of the pre-draft camps next year.
Roy Bright, 66, SF, Junior, Delaware State
Bright struggled a bit at the start of the workout, not consistently converting on his mid-range shots, hitting for just 17-28, though his efficiency actually improved as he stepped back to the college and NBA three-point lines, hitting for 16-25 from college range and 17-25 from NBA range. What really jumped out as he moved back was the amount of strength he possesses, as he put up shots from NBA range effortlessly. He seemed to push forward a bit more on his shot as he stepped back, but it wasnt anything drastic, and its hard to argue with the efficiency. Bright shot just .328 from three-point range this past season, to go along with .440 overall.
After shooting drills, Bright moved onto lots of dribble-drive drills, practicing crossovers, ball-fakes, stepback jumpers, pull-up jumpers, spin moves, and more. Bright looked very fluid for a man his size going through all the moves, selling them well and not making many mistakes, picking all the series up quickly and effortlessly. He didnt have much trouble hitting on the pull-up and step-back shots from mid-range, and despite not being incredibly quick, looked effective with all the moves. The biggest question mark for Bright will be if he can continue to do all the things he does at Delaware State against stronger competition, something hell have a chance to show at the pre-draft camps next year. Even if not, he should go on to have a productive career overseas.
Antoine Agudio, 63, PG/SG, Junior, Hofstra
Agudio really lit things up in the shooting drills from 15 feet and college three-point range, hitting 21-25 from 15 feet and 18-25 from behind the college three-point line. He has excellent elevation on his jump shot and very good shooting mechanics, with a high, consistent release point that doesnt change as he moves farther away from the basket. He shot a strong .430 from college range this past season, but he still apparently has to work on developing his NBA range. While he did excellent from inside NBA range in the shooting drills here, he struggled to convert from behind the NBA line, hitting just 9-23, even though his mechanics remained solid. It couldve just been an off-day for Agudio, but even if not, he has plenty of time to add a few more feet to his range, something he shouldnt have much trouble doing in time.
On the dribble-drive drills, Agudio was on-and-off, looking really comfortable and strong with some moves, while not looking comfortable on others, looking very awkward going through the motions and not really selling the move well at all. It should be noted that he definitely has plenty of good moves to create his own shot, as evidenced by his strong scoring production in his three years at Hofstra, and a player doesnt necessarily have to be great at every move in the book. Agudio looked good going off one or two dribbles with either hand, and looked good pulling up into his shot from either hand, possessing good footwork and fluidity there. Agudio didnt do a very good job selling his crossover moves and ball-fakes, looking rigid with his execution and not looking as if hed get many players to bite on them. He got a bit more comfortable as the workout went on and he got some repetition in on all the moves, looking especially good when Hernandez allowed the players to free-lance their attacks from the wing, where he mixed in crossovers and spin moves well, finishing on floaters and pull-up shots.
With the new trend towards combo-guards in the NBA, Agudio should have a chance to catch on somewhere in the future, though hed do himself well to work on becoming more of a point guard, something he should have the opportunity to do at Hofstra next season. Hes a player we will likely be seeing at one or both of the pre-draft camps next year, and if he doesnt make it in the NBA, should have a very productive career as a scoring guard in Europe, where his game should fit in very well.
A Few Questions With James Mays
DraftExpress: Whats the biggest thing youre working on in preparing for the draft?
James Mays: Getting into the best shape possible is my big thing and showing the scouts and teams that I can get out there, just keep working in the gym and doing what Im doing.
DraftExpress: Is there anything in terms of skill development that youre working on especially?
James Mays: Footwork and having a go-to move. I know a lot of teams probably didnt think I have a go-to move, because I just played hard all the time. Also, I could probably improve on my perimeter shot, and just having a go-to move in the post.
DraftExpress: Is there anything youre looking to show scouts at Orlando that you maybe werent able to show at Clemson?
James Mays: If given the chance, I can score like an energizer bunny; I can just keep going and going and get a lot of rebounds and stuff like that.
DraftExpress: People project you at both the small forward and power forward at the next level. Is there any position youre more comfortable playing?
James Mays: Right now, Id have to say power forward, because my perimeter skills are developing right now for the small forward, but eventually, my shots getting better since Ive been working out so eventually I could probably make the transition, but right now Id have to say power forward.
DraftExpress: Is there any player you model your game after?
James Mays: A lot of players. KG. TMac, I like the way he plays on the perimeter. Tim Duncan. Amare Stoudemire has to be the most because hes so athletic and he gets rebounds and thats what I do.
DraftExpress: Where do you think youll be drafted this year?
James Mays: I mean, right now, before going to the camp, Id say low second round, but after the camp, hopefully I can shock a couple people and then who knows.