Billy Baron joins Chicago Bulls summer league; McCrea to Dallas, Heath to Detroit, Watt to Golden State

By Nick Veronica

Former Canisius guard Billy Baron will join the Chicago Bulls for summer league, his agent, BJ Armstrong of Wasserman Media Group, confirmed via email.

The Bulls were the first of 10 teams Baron worked out for ahead of Thursday night’s draft. The others were Atlanta, Utah, Milwaukee, New York, Cleveland, Houston, Washington, San Antonio and Detroit.

[RELATED: Summer league results & schedules for Baron, McCrea, Watt, Heath]

The summer league, held in Las Vegas, will give Baron another shot to impress NBA teams after going undrafted.

The Bulls traded for Creighton stud Doug McDermott and selected New Mexico’s Cameron Bairstow in the draft.

Armstrong also represents Bulls star Derek Rose.

UPDATE: UB’s Javon McCrea will play with the Dallas Mavericks summer league team.

Canisius’ Jordan Heath announced earlier this week he will play summer league with the Detroit Pistons.

Mitchell Watt, who graduated from UB in 2012, will play with the Golden State Warriors.

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Billy Baron, Javon McCrea go undrafted

By Nick Veronica

Canisius’ Billy Baron and UB’s Javon McCrea, as expected, were not picked in Thursday night’s NBA Draft.

Both players will likely be invited to NBA Summer League, where they will have another opportunity to impress NBA teams.

Canisius’ Jordan Heath posted earlier this week that he was also headed to Summer League.

Baron worked out for 10 NBA teams before the draft while McCrea worked out for seven.

Billy Baron and Javon McCrea’s NBA Draft outlook

By Nick Veronica

Canisius’ Billy Baron and UB’s Javon McCrea have spent the last month flying across the country, giving workouts to as many NBA teams as possible.

If either player was able to impress a club, he’ll find out tonight during the NBA Draft (7 p.m., ESPN).

While the most likely scenario is that both players go undrafted, that’s not the end of the road for either of their professional dreams. Both Baron and McCrea, the MAAC and MAC players of the year, respectively, could get a look in the NBA Summer League, where they’d have additional opportunities to prove they can play at the next level.

“I know I made a pretty good impression on a few teams so we’ll just leave it up to that,” Baron said in a recent interview with Big 4 Talk’s Johnathan Snyder. “If I don’t get drafted, it’s not everything in the world,” Baron added. “There are many routes to the NBA, it’s not just on Thursday.”

“With the NBA, you never know what’s gonna happen,” McCrea told WGRZ. “I hope my name’s called, and if not, I just have to work harder throughout the summer to make sure I’m playing in November.”

Baron worked out for 10 teams — one-third of the league — prior to the draft (Chicago, Atlanta, Utah, Milwaukee, New York, Cleveland, Houston, Washington, San Antonio and Detroit), while McCrea auditioned for seven (Chicago, Boston, Los Angeles Clippers, Dallas, Toronto, Memphis and Philadelphia) after a good showing at the Portsmouth Invitational, which Baron opted not to attend.

McCrea was linked to the Philadelphia 76ers late in a recent ESPN mock draft, if you’re looking for a guess on where he might end up. (You have to be an Insider to see the full mock, but Hustle Belt wrote about it here.) Philadelphia has an absurd five second-round draft picks, so I’m guessing that would make them less hesitant to go off the board a bit for a player like McCrea.

Baron’s most likely destination, if you’re trying to connect the dots, is the Detroit Pistons. Their general manager, Jeff Bower, coached at Marist last year and is a big fan of Baron’s game. Their coach, Stan Van Gundy, is a former Canisius assistant and a graduate of Brockport. He visited campus two years ago and met with Baron and the team.

Stan Van Gundy at #canisius

A post shared by Nick Veronica (@nickveronica) on

(Above: Stan Van Gundy at Canisius)

If you’re thinking these two have forgotten about Canisius now that they’re in the pros, think again. Jordan Heath worked out with the Pistons Wednesday and posted on Instagram that he was looking forward to Summer League. If he’s on their radar, you can bet Baron is too.

Detroit only has one draft pick (38th overall), so I don’t see them using it on Baron, but they could go after him later.

Baron’s agent, B.J. Armstrong of Wasserman Media Group, is a former Chicago Bulls point guard who also represents Derek Rose (Chicago), Al Horford (Atlanta), JaVale McGee (Denver), Gerald Henderson (Charlotte), Omer Asik (traded from Houston to New Orleans Wednesday night), Jason Terry (Sacramento) and several others.

McCrea’s agent, Mike Kneisley of The Neustadt Group, also represents Shelvin Mack of Atlanta and Darius Miller of New Orleans.

If Baron made it to the NBA, he would be the first Canisius player in the league since Mike Smrek retired in 1992. McCrea could become just the second UB player to make the NBA (Sam Pellom, 1979-83) and the school’s first draft pick. The only Big Four player currently in the NBA is St. Bonaventure’s Andrew Nicholson, who was selected 19th overall by Orlando in 2012.

Marist names Mike Maker basketball coach, replacing Jeff Bower

By Nick Veronica

Mike Maker

Mike Maker

Mike Maker was named the new basketball coach at Marist today, filling the void created when Jeff Bower left earlier this month to become the general manager of the Detroit Pistons.

Maker comes from Division III Williams College, where he put up an impressive 147-32 record in six years as head coach while reaching two national championship games.

Maker has 26 years of head coaching experience, including 17 as a Division I assistant. He worked under former Canisius coach John Beilein at West Virginia from 2005-07. This is Maker’s first Division I head coaching job.

Marist’s Executive Vice President, Dr. Geoffrey Brackett, said in the school’s press release that Maker was “unanimously endorsed” by the search committee.

“We will implement a team first approach and unique style of play that highlights character, intelligence and skill, a direct reflection of our student body as a whole,” Maker said in the release. He will be introduced in an 11 a.m press conference at Marist’s McCann Arena on Wednesday.

Maker is the 11th head coach in Marist history and the third in the last three seasons. Bower spent only one season at Marist after replacing Chuck Martin, who was 48-118 in five seasons.

Marist’s best player, Chavaughn Lewis (17.3 ppg, second-team all-conference), must decide if he’ll play for his third coach or transfer. The Red Foxes are looking to build on their performance from last season, when they earned the 6-seed in the conference tournament and boasted the MAAC Rookie of the Year, Khallid Hart (14.7 ppg).


Antoine Mason heads to Auburn

By Nick Veronica

auburnlogoFormer Niagara standout Antoine Mason announced in a series of tweets today that he’ll play his final year of college basketball at Auburn.

Mason led in the country in scoring average for much of last season before being passed by Creighton stud Doug McDermott. Mason finished the year averaging 25.6 points per game while hitting 44.0 percent of field goals.

Mason graduated from Niagara in the spring and will be eligible immediately. He’ll have to adapt to a more team-centric role under Bruce Pearl at Auburn. Mason had one of the country’s greenest lights last season under first-year coach Chris Casey.

Mason had his father, former NBAer Anthony Mason, call Casey in May to inform him that Antoine was transferring. Casey had said the week before that Mason was going to return to Niagara.

Here’s what Mason tweeted after his visit to Auburn last weekend:

And here’s what he tweeted Wednesday:

Mason was reportedly deciding between Auburn and Providence. His hashtag #chiponmyshoulder in the first tweet may be a reference to being left off the All-MAAC First Team last season. The league’s coaches apparently felt Niagara’s poor record was a reflection on the player its offense revolved around.

Auburn finished 12th in the 14-team SEC last year, going 6-12 in conference and 14-16 overall.