Cal forward Ivan Rabb has unique connection to Trail Blazers' star Damian Lillard

Cal forward Ivan Rabb has unique connection to Trail Blazers' star Damian Lillard

CHICAGO – When Ivan Rabb was in his youth, his family moved to a new neighborhood in Oakland. As it turns out, living in the house directly across the street was a kid named Damian Lillard.

“I’ve been knowing him for a time,’’ Rabb said of the Trail Blazers’ star. “And as I’ve gotten older, I’ve gotten to know him a little more.’’

Rabb hopes that connection deepens next month by becoming Lillard’s teammate. Rabb, a 6-foot-10 power forward from Cal, could be on the radar of a Blazers’ team that is looking for depth at power forward and has three first round picks (15, 20, 26) in the June 22 NBA draft.

The Blazers, who are tentatively scheduled to start draft workouts around June 7, have yet to book Rabb for a trip to Portland according to agent Aaron Goodwin. But according to one source, it is likely Rabb will be on the Blazers’ workout schedule after agents finalize their clients’ travel agendas following Tuesday’s draft lottery.

One thing is certain: whichever teams Rabb works out for, they will likely see a hard worker.

Rabb said he is being trained by Chris Farr and Anthony Eggleton, the same coaches who put Lillard through his grueling predraft workouts before he was drafted sixth overall in 2012. Those workouts spawned the four-part YouTube mini-series “License to Lillard.”

“The main thing is his work ethic,’’ Rabb said of Lillard. “Coach Farr always talks about how hard he worked and (Coach Eggleton) talked about how he was focused and dedicated to everything they told him to do. So that’s something I’m trying to emulate. Why not? He’s doing great things and I want to be on his level one day.’’

Rabb feels his own level has elevated in the past year, when he elected to forego what many projected to be a lottery selection and instead stay at Cal for his sophomore season.

“I thought I needed it,’’ Rabb said. “I thought it was very mature for me to go back. The plan is to stick in the league for a long time, not get there as soon as possible, so I feel like I made the best decision for me. I feel like I got better.’’

After averaging 12.5 points and 8.6 rebounds as a freshman, Rabb this season averaged 14 points, 10.5 rebounds and 1.0 blocks while shooting 48 percent from the field.

While Rabb might have questions about the transition to the NBA regarding his experience or his his outside shot, he said he has no reservations about his top skill: Rebounding.

“I know at this point right now, what can translate is rebounding the ball,’’ Rabb said. “I know I can hit offensive glass really well … everybody has to have their niche coming into the league and rebounding is something I can hang my hat on. Coaches know if I’m coming into the game, I’m going for rebounds.’’

He said some of his offensive game was thwarted at Cal because he was often double-teamed in the post, and the right play was to pass to the open teammate. Sometimes, that meant the only way he could score was to attack rebounds.

“I just know I want the ball. Sometimes I wasn’t getting the ball inside so I was like, ‘Let me go find a way to score the ball’ … and I would go grab it,’’ Rabb said.

Since the season has ended, Rabb said he has been encouraged by his offensive growth. He says the range on his shot is expanding.

“I feel like I own everything inside the 3-point line and I’m shooting corner 3s really well,’’ said Rabb, who went 8-for-20 from the college three-point line last season.

Rabb said he doesn’t want to project himself as a three-point shooter yet, but it’s something he is working on.

“I feel like I’m on right track, but I’m not in a rush to get out there (and shoot threes) if it’s not my game,’’ he said. “I’m trying to master what I have first, and then build off that.’’

While Rabb says his game is becoming more polished by the day, one thing hasn’t changed: his confidence, which he says is rooted in his Oakland upbringing.

“I’m confident when I’m on the floor,’’ he said. “I feel like I carry myself differently. I don’t get rattled. I play with a chip on my shoulder and don’t let anybody punk me.’’

He says he molds himself after four players – Chris Bosh, LaMarcus Aldridge, Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett – but he knows if he comes to Portland, there will be another guy who will go a long ways in shaping him.

It’s the same kid who lived across the street when he was in middle school: Lillard.

“I feel like him being there, he will push me to make sure I succeed,’’ Rabb said. “He would be a great mentor to have.’’

2017 Draft Profile: Oregon forward Jordan Bell

2017 Draft Profile: Oregon forward Jordan Bell

Jordan Bell

Oregon Junior

Age: 22

Height: 6'9"

Weight: 227

Wingspan: 6'11 ¾"

Season Averages: 11.0 points, 8.7 rebounds and 1.8 assists  

Fun Fact: Bell is the all-time leading shot-blocker in Oregon basketball history with 221 career blocks.
 

***For even more information on Jordan Bell check out the Draft Profile video above.

2017 Draft Profile: UNC small forward Justin Jackson

2017 Draft Profile: UNC small forward Justin Jackson

Justin Jackson

North Carolina Junior SF

Age: 22

Height: 6'8"

Weight: 193

Wingspan: 6'11"

Season Averages: 18.4 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.8 assists

Fun Fact: According to goheels.com, if Jackson wasn't playing basketball he would like to try and master ping pong.
 

***For even more information on Justin Jackson check out the Draft Profile video above.

Bringing some 'dog' to the Blazers: Jordan Bell says he would be a good fit in Portland

Bringing some 'dog' to the Blazers: Jordan Bell says he would be a good fit in Portland

Playing last season in Eugene, Jordan Bell was able to catch just enough Trail Blazers games to know that he would be a good fit for Portland should they select him in Thursday’s NBA draft.

“I think I fit very well,’’ the Ducks’ forward said. “Obviously, the (Blazers’) bigs weren’t as tough this year, in my opinion, so I think I could bring that dog to this team. Be the tough guy on defense ... ancoring the defense.’’

Bell, who on Monday worked out for the Blazers, said he thinks he will be drafted anywhere from 18th to 31st. He said he knows that Indiana and Atlanta have shown interest, and if he could choose a dream scenario, he would be picked by one of the Los Angeles teams (his hometown) or the Blazers.

The Blazers own the 15th, 20th and 26th picks.

“That would be the best,’’ Bell said of the prospects of Portland selecting him. “I like the rain, the weather and the people around here are some of the nicest I’ve met. ‘’

Bell said Thursday was his 12th and final workout with NBA teams, and he rated his Blazers’ workout among his best. He competed against North Carolina wing Justin Jackson, Cal forward Ivan Rabb, Kansas State forward Wesley Iwundu and international 7-footer Isaiah Hartenstein.

“I didn’t shoot it as well as I wanted to, but playing, it’s probably one of my best performances,’’ Bell said. “Just the way I played – matchups, the way I defended on the ball, switching, off the ball, the energy I played with … I just played within  myself.’’

Bell’s stock seems to be on the rise as Thursday’s draft nears, as he has gone from a mid-second round projection to as high as a late-first rounder in some mocks.

He boasts that his resume is unique in that it is straight-forward and no frills: He is a versatile defender, comfortable guarding anyone from a point guard to a center, and he will arrive to a team willing to do whatever it takes to win.

“I get more of a thrill blocking a shot than making a shot,’’ Bell said.

He said his approach and his style of play is molded largely by Golden State star Draymond Green.

“All my life people have said they don’t know what position I am, they don’t know what I do well ,’’ Bell said. “Same thing with (Draymond Green): you don’t know what position he is … 6-7, can guard 1 through 5 , a real defensive force, offensively whatever the team needs to win, finding shooters, understanding his role, knowing his personnel around him.’’

Bell, who is listed at 6-foot-9 and 224 pounds, said he has been working on the NBA corner three, but said he doesn’t expect to play outside of his talents after averaging 10.9 points, 8.8 rebounds and 2.3 blocks as a junior for the Ducks, when he was named the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year.

“I think a lot of people coming out of college were top scorer – averaging 20 and then they have to adapt to a role,’’ Bell said. “Me, exactly what I did in college is exactly what teams are going to ask me to do. They are not going to ask me to stop shooting the ball, because I already don’t shoot the ball. They are just going to ask me to keep defending, blocking shots and playing within myself.’’

2017 Draft Profile: Cal PF Ivan Rabb

2017 Draft Profile: Cal PF Ivan Rabb

Ivan Rabb

Cal Sophomore PF/C  

Age: 20

Height: 6'10"

Weight: 215

Wingspan: 7'1 ½"

Season Averages: 14.0 points, 10.5 rebounds and 1.5 assists

Fun Fact: Growing up Rabb lived right across the street from Trail Blazers’ star Damian Lillard in their Oakland neighborhood.  Rabb talked about Lillard at the NBA Combine in May and told CSNNW, 'I’ve been knowing him for a time and as I’ve gotten older, I’ve gotten to know him a little more.'

 

***For even more information on Ivan Rabb check out the Draft Profile video above.

Blazers bring in the big guns days before the Draft

Blazers bring in the big guns days before the Draft

It's NBA Draft week! And the Trail Blazers are flexing their muscles three days before the Draft by bringing in some high flyers: Justin Jackson, Jordan Bell and Ivan Rabb.

Jackson, who played on the National Champion North Carolina Tar Heels, won the ACC Player of the Year Award, leading UNC with 18.3 points and 4.7 rebounds per game. He is a projected top-20 pick. 

Former Duck Jordan Bell is at Monday's workout, as well. His Draft stock has been climbing since the NBA Combine where he registered the fastest shuttle run time in Combine history. The PAC-12 Defensive Player of the Year, Bell averaged 10.9 points, 8.8 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game as a junior. He is a projected late first-round to early second round pick. 

Rabb, an early entrant into this year's Draft, has a special connection to Blazers Damian Lillard. The 6'10" forward grew up across the street from the Blazers point guard and went to hometown UC Berkeley where he averaged 14 points and 9.5 rebounds per game. 

Isaiah Hartenstein, who played for Zalgiris Kaunas in Lithuania but was born in Eugene, Oregon, also provides some intrigue into Monday's list of pre-draft workout attendees. 

Here's the Draft profiles of each:

 

2017 Draft Profile: Zalgiris International C/PF Isaiah Hartenstein

2017 Draft Profile: Zalgiris International C/PF Isaiah Hartenstein

Isaiah Hartenstein

Zalgiris International C/PF

Age: 19

Height: 7'0"

Weight: 225

Wingspan: 7'2 ¼"

Season Averages: 1.0 point, 0.8 rebounds and 0.2 assists in five games played while averaging 3.2 minutes per contest  

Fun Fact: Isaiah Hartenstein was born in Eugene where his father Flo was a stand-out basketball player for the Oregon Ducks.  Isaiah spent the first 11 years of his life in Eugene before his family moved to Germany for Flo’s professional career.
 

***For even more information on Isaiah Hartenstein check out the Draft Profile video above.

2017 Draft Profile: Duke SG Luke Kennard

2017 Draft Profile: Duke SG Luke Kennard

Luke Kennard

Duke Sophomore SG

Age: 20

Height: 6'6"

Weight: 202

Wingspan: 6'5 ¼"

Season Averages: 19.5 points, 5.1 rebounds and 2.5 assists

Fun Fact: In addition to Kennard being a big time scorer on the basketball court, he was also one of the top high school quarterbacks in the state of Ohio.

 

***For even more information on Luke Kennard check out the Draft Profile video above.

2017 Draft Profile: UCLA center Ike Anigbogu

2017 Draft Profile: UCLA center Ike Anigbogu

Ike Anigbogu

UCLA Freshman Center 

Age: 18

Height: 6'10"

Wingspan: 7'6 ¼"

Weight: 230

Season Averages: 4.7 points, 4.0 rebounds and 0.2 assists

Interesting Fact: Anigbogu played less than 400 minutes at the college level.

 

***For even more information on Ike Anigbogu check out the Draft Profile video above.

2017 Draft Profile: Texas center Jarrett Allen

2017 Draft Profile: Texas center Jarrett Allen

Jarrett Allen

Texas Freshman Center 

Age: 19

Height: 6'11"

Weight: 224

Wingspan: 7'5 ¼"

Season Averages: 13.4 points, 8.4 rebounds and 0.8 assists  

Fun Fact: Allen’s game has been compared to that of Pistons big man Andre Drummond.

***For even more information on Jarrett Allen check out the Draft Profile video above.