By Nick Veronica
Before becoming the head coach at Marist this past offseason, Jeff Bower spent 15 years working in the NBA. His resume is extensive.
Working for the Hornets organization in both Charlotte and New Orleans (now the Pelicans) until 2010, Bower’s titles included general manger, head coach, director of player personnel, assistant general manager, assistant coach, director of scouting and advance scout.
Of all people around the MAAC, Bower may be most qualified to assess Billy Baron’s potential in the NBA. He spent a minute and a half answering the question during Sunday’s postgame.
Here’s what he had to say:
I think he’s a terrific as a player now. I think the way he plays the game are things that a lot of teams will really like. I never slot a guy at this time of the year, honestly, because you don’t know the draft and how many people are going to be involved in it.
But I know this: He’s a winner. He’s got skills, he’s got size, he’s got deep shooting ability, he’s got playmaking ability, and he is a competitor. And I know those are all qualities that every NBA team would value and do their research and see. When it’s all said and done, I would expect him to be rated or ranked ahead of a lot of guys. I think he’s the type of kid that helps your team and is gonna have the poise to compete and help a team.
It’s too early, honestly. The people that are talking now are usually guys that aren’t involved in decision making, [guys] that are saying where people are going. But he would be a guy that a lot of people are excited about and want to dig very deep to find out about, in my opinion.
Without getting too far ahead of himself, Bowers seemed to give pretty high praise to Baron. He twice said that it was too soon to really know (and he took a little shot at draft prognosticators), but overall has high praise.
Bower didn’t tell us a ton we didn’t already know — Baron can shoot, he’s a competitor, teams like that kind of stuff — but hearing it from someone of his stature was at least good confirmation for opinions we had. (Bowers didn’t exactly have the same things to say about his own player, Chavaughn Lewis — see his full press conference here; quotes about Baron start at 5:12 and Lewis 6:52).
So, to answer the ever-present question, “Is Billy Baron going to the NBA?” the answer is this: he’s getting looked at. As of right now, he probably won’t get drafted, but he’s on NBA teams’ radar. San Antonio had a scout a the Koessler Athletic Center today. Baron’s best shot is probably getting a tryout/camp invitation from a team this summer, similar to what Iona’s Scott Machado got from the Houston Rockets.
But hey, like Bower said, it’s too early to know.Follow @nickveronica