Mercer’s Hall preparing for NBA draft, and beyond

mlough@macon.comJune 25, 2014 

Having been among the conference leaders in minutes played and in the top two in Mercer history in games played, and after an exhausting roller coaster ride in the NCAA tournament, Langston Hall was ready to relax a little bit.

He’s still ready to relax a little bit but hasn’t had much of a chance since a season-ending loss to Tennessee in the NCAA tournament, two days after Mercer’s attention-getting win over Duke.

“I had about two or three days,” the most decorated player in Mercer men’s basketball history said. “I was expecting to have a little more time off.”

The break was shortened because he was chosen to play in the National Association of Basketball Coaches all-star game on Final Four weekend, and it was on that trip he was named the nation’s top mid-major player.

He has been working out in some form or fashion ever since, all in preparation -- and hope -- for Thursday night’s NBA draft.

“It’s been crazy,” said Hall, one of seven seniors on the A-Sun tournament title team who graduated last month. “At the beginning, we had four or five (workouts set up).

“Then I’d get a call, and we’d go to the next one. And we’d get another call and another one.”

Hall has worked out for Atlanta twice and once each for Brooklyn, Utah, Miami, Charlotte, Minnesota, Houston and Sacramento.

Early this week was typical. He had planned to come to Mercer to play Tuesday, but Brooklyn called Sunday for him to work out. He was at the Atlanta airport Monday night and ran into former Seton Hall guard Fuquan Edwin.

“We ate,” Hall said Monday before heading to Brooklyn. “Had a little meal together. He worked out for the Hawks (Monday), and he was heading to Indiana.”

The trip to Brooklyn was a typical one for Hall.

“I come to the airport, I leave at 8:15 (p.m.), I get there at 10:30, 10:45,” Hall said. “I wake up, do the workout in the afternoon; they take me right back to the airport. So I’m not even in wherever I’m going for 24 hours.”

Hall finally got a chance to return to his alma mater Wednesday for something he has done very little of since that all-star game: actually play with four teammates against five other players. One exception was at the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament in April with other draft hopefuls.

“It went OK,” said Hall, who averaged 7.7 points, 4.7 assists, one turnover and 29.7 minutes in three games at Portsmouth. “It wasn’t really my game, I guess you could say. A lot of coming down one on one and shots going up real quick. I think I still did pretty well there.”

Odds are against Hall getting picked Thursday.

For one thing, he’s not listed on NBA.com’s list of nearly 100 prospects. Few players from mid-major conferences are. Green Bay, Louisiana-Lafayette, Nevada, New Mexico, New Mexico State, Oakland, San Diego State, St. Joe’s, UNLV and Wichita State are represented.

He is, however, ranked 20th among point guards and 97th overall by ESPN.com, which as of Tuesday night, had this in its March 17 update: “A big game against Duke could vault him into discussion as a second-round pick.”

Last year, Lehigh guard C.J. McCollum went 10th to Portland, Murray State point Isaiah Cannan went 34th to Houston, and players from North Dakota State, North Texas, San Diego State, Bucknell and Long Beach State were among the 60 players chosen.

There’s some irony in that group. McCollum was on the Lehigh team that knocked off Duke in the second round of the 2012 NCAA tournament.

Pro teams in most sports aren’t big on communicating with draft prospects, so Hall doesn’t have a detailed scouting report of his game.

“I think I’m definitely a lot faster,” he said. “I definitely handle the ball a little quicker. I feel like my range is a lot better.”

Scouting reports note he’s not as athletic as many of his colleagues, but he said he has improved his footwork and quickness.

While Hall is unlikely to get drafted, he is likely to go to bed Thursday night at a minimum deciding where he’ll play in one of the NBA’s summer leagues. One runs from July 5-11 in Orlando and the other July 11-21 in Las Vegas, with a tournament at the end.

“Three or four teams said if I don’t get drafted, they’ll definitely have a summer league spot for me,” he said. “I know at the end of the day, I’m definitely playing summer league.”

One thing about the workouts that surprised Hall a little was the camaraderie.

“We all want to do good,” he said. “But we’ll all be cheering for the next person to do good. We’re really encouraging. You’re really close to your workout group. It’s been like that for every single workout.”

He also found out that March 21 in Raleigh, North Carolina, lives on.

“Every single workout, somebody’ll say, ‘Where’d you go to school? Oh yeah, y’all beat Duke and had the kid do the ‘Nae Nae,’ ” Hall said. “Every single workout. It’s never failed.”

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