How Chaz Lanier, Wooga Poplar performed at the G League Elite Camp

Zack Geogheganby:Zack Geoghegan05/13/24

ZGeogheganKSR

The 2024 NBA Draft Combine begins today. Between Monday and Sunday, over 80 draft hopefuls will spend time in Chicago in hopes of impressing scouts and front office personnel. Kentucky’s Reed Sheppard, Rob Dillingham (both projected lottery picks), Justin Edwards, and Antonio Reeves previously received invites. Sheppard and Dillingham were even at the NBA Draft Lottery show on Sunday.

Another name to monitor is BYU’s Jaxson Robinson, who joins those four Wildcats in the Windy City this week. The Big 12’s reigning Sixth Man of the Year averaged 14.2 points per game last season for the Cougars. If he elects to pull his name out of the draft pool, the expectation is he’ll transfer to Kentucky, following Mark Pope to Lexington for one final college season.

But there are a couple of significant Kentucky transfer portal targets that will not compete in Chicago. Those would be North Florida’s Chaz Lanier and Miami’s Wooga Poplar. On Saturday and Sunday, those two attended the NBA G League Elite Camp, where 45 prospects were invited with only a handful receiving invites to the Combine.

While Lanier and Poplar had their moments over the weekend, neither were called up to participate in the Combine. If they were hoping to sneak into the NBA Draft next month, failing to make the Combine isn’t going to help their chances by any means. If anything, it’ll likely push them back to college. That’s good news for Kentucky.

Lanier and Poplar were actually teammates at the G League Elite Camp, suiting up for Team 1. During Saturday’s game, Lanier finished with five points (2-4 FG; 0-1 3PT), three rebounds, one assist, and one turnover in 12 minutes of action. Meanwhile, Poplar — who started — added four points (1-6 FG; 0-2 3PT), seven rebounds, one assist, one steal, and two turnovers in 14 minutes. Team 1 beat Team 2 by a score of 93-83.

Those numbers improved on Sunday, especially from Poplar, who went for a team-high 18 points on 8-15 shooting (2-7 3PT). The 6-foot-5 guard received the start again, chipping in four rebounds, two steals, one assist, and two turnovers in 20 minutes. Coming off the bench, the 6-foot-4 Lanier contributed five points (1-3 3PT), two rebounds, two assists, and zero turnovers in 21 minutes. Team 1 took down Team 4, 110-99.

Despite his strong showing in the second game, Poplar did not make the Combine cut. But again, this should be considered good news for the Wildcats. Lanier and Poplar can now start to really dive into the colleges they’re hearing from the most (if they do intend to return to college). For Lanier, that would be Tennessee and UK. Will he take any visits in the coming days/weeks? Poplar’s recruitment appears to be much more open, but that could change quickly as he begins to narrow his list down.

Reeves, Edwards participating in 5-on-5

This Tuesday and Wednesday, 5-on-5 scrimmages between Combine invitees will be broadcast live on ESPN from 1-5 p.m. EST both days. Players can elect to decline suiting up for these scrimmages, and it would appear that Reed Sheppard and Rob Dillingham (again, both projected Top 10 picks) have chosen to sit out.

However, Antonio Reeves and Justin Edwards — still looking to improve their stock as borderline draft picks — will hit the hardwood. Reeves will play for Team St. Andrews (alongside Bronny James; lots of eyes will be on this group) while Edwards is on Team Forehan-Kelly. We’ll also note that Jaxson Robinson is on Team Herscu.

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2024-05-21