Wichita State’s Markis McDuffie couldn’t schedule a date to work out for the New York Knicks, his favorite NBA team.
Other than that, his roughly five weeks in the NBA Draft pool went perfectly, he said.
He worked out for Boston, Brooklyn, Toronto and the Los Angeles Clippers. He learned much about the grind of daily basketball and received encouraging feedback. That is the point of the NCAA allowing athletes to enter and exit the draft process without penalty.
“I just wanted to test the waters and see what my future is going to be,” he said. “I’m glad I did it.”
McDuffie pulled his name out of the draft pool on Tuesday, one day before the deadline to retain NCAA eligibility and will return to Wichita State for his junior season. Teammate Shaq Morris, a senior center, withdrew on Monday.
“I decided to go back to school to see what the (American Athletic Conference) has in store,” McDuffie said. “I want to compete for a national championship.”
McDuffie did not hire an agent. That allowed him to attend workouts with NBA teams, such as Monday’s at Toronto, and receive feedback on his pro prospects.
“I learned a lot — the competitive nature, the grind,” he said. “The biggest thing I learned is how to take care of your body. It’s workout after workout. You’re making sure you’re well rested.”
McDuffie, a 6-foot-8 forward, averaged 11.5 points and 5.7 rebounds as a sophomore. When he does enter the NBA Draft, he profiles potentially as an ideal wing defender, one who can switch screens and guard players of different sizes and skills. Those defenders are valuable in an NBA that relies heavily on pick-and-roll offenses and three-point shooting.
“In the workouts, they loved how I grinded on defense,” McDuffie said. “That’s something I got from my foundation at St. Anthony (High) and my foundation at Wichita State.”
McDuffie said most of the information from NBA people was positive. They liked his versatility. They liked his shooting. They liked his competitive spirit. They told him he excelled in interviews with the media.
The workouts varied by team, often consisting of speed and agility testing, interviews and 1-one-1, 2-on-2 and 3-on-3 games. In Toronto, McDuffie worked out with Oregon’s Tyler Dorsey and Dillon Brooks, SMU’s Semi Ojeleye, Arizona’s Kobi Simmons and Johnathan Williams of Gonzaga.
“The biggest thing is getting stronger,” McDuffie said. “They want me to continue to work on my ball-handling.”
McDuffie and most of his WSU teammates will return to campus in early June.
Senior forward Zach Brown was scheduled to depart on Tuesday for a 13-day tour of the Czech Republic and Poland with Athletes in Action.
Training camp in Prague is May 24-27.
AIA will play the Czech national under-20 team twice and the Belarus national team three times.
The team is coached by Valparaiso associate head coach Luke Gore. Billy Donovan Jr., son of Oklahoma City Thunder coach Billy Donovan, is the assistant coach.
Brown’s teammates include Kansas State’s Isaiah Maurice, Florida’s Jalen Hudson and Baylor’s Tyson Jolly and Wendell Mitchell.