On May 5th, I had the opportunity to talk with G League Ignite head coach Jason Hart about the G League Ignite’s NBA Draft prospects. The conversation covered an array of topics. However, as the 2022 NBA Draft approaches, this article will primarily focus on some of the Ignite’s prospects in this year’s draft, not just ones the Philadelphia 76ers will target. Quotes pertaining to Scoot Henderson, who will be NBA Draft-eligible after next season, were also included. Below are the highlights from the interview.
In what ways has Dyson Daniels been a meaningful representation of the Ignite’s international growth?
Hart: “He was able to come in and show that, it’s not gonna take him long to get adjusted to the American game. He’s a player. Dyson has represented the international thing well and he’s the best defender in the draft, period, point-blank. I think they did a really good job of preparing him and now it’s showing with his rise in draft stock.”
How have you played a role in his draft preparation?
Hart: “With all the guys, there were professionals with me in the beginning, but now it’s business so they’re all with their agents. They’re in that process at the draft so I’m going to just pop in at the gym and watch them work out. I’m not involved with their draft getting ready process. They’re with their agents and that’s the business side of basketball, so they’re all in good hands.”
What were the focal points in training that Dyson was working on throughout the season?
Hart: “His ballhandling because he’s a bigger guard and being able to be aggressive at some points in the game meaning having to score to keep the defense honest. The main thing was just being able to compete every game because, in the NBA, you got to be able to compete–you got to have a competitive spirit and fire or you won’t make it. Those were our focuses with him–being able to compete at a high level each night.”
Could you describe how MarJon Beauchamp has grown throughout this season?
Hart: “MarJon has grown because he understood his role and what it took to succeed without having a lot of plays called for him. MarJon was one of our players that knew how to blend in, fit in, and he’s NBA-ready when it comes to being able to play with other good players. That was a natural skill that he had–he didn’t need the ball in his hands to do well, so that was surprising to me for a player that young to have that skill already.”
He’s known for his high-level work ethic, can you explain what a team is getting when they draft him?
Hart: “They’re getting a big wing that knows how to blend with other really good players. In the NBA, you have two, or three superstars per team. Everybody else is a role player, that’s a skill. Sometimes, when you don’t master that skill, you can’t get on the court. He will be able to get on the court because he understands how to play with other good players really well and that’s a really good skill set to have when you’re young.”
How has Jaden Hardy benefitted from this past season of Ignite experience?
Hart: “He was able to play pro basketball at an early age. He came in, he had lofty expectations and he chased those expectations. He was unafraid to fail and he has the ultimate confidence as a player. I thought this experience showed him that he does belong and he’s going to continue to get better because he knows how to put the work in and he’s dedicated.”
Can you describe how his brother’s presence on the team helped him? Are there any similarities to the Mobley brothers from your time at USC?
Hart: “The similarities are obviously they’re brothers, but they’re really tight and they have each other’s back and voice. It was a good thing because they use each other really well; they coached each other really well and they were there for one another, so it was similar traits to the Mobley brothers, as well.”
Could you explain his growth during this season and how he impacted Ignite’s success?
Hart: “Michael Foster is probably the most underrated big in the draft. I think his draft process is probably going a little bit different. I think he was judged a little harsh by NBA scouts, in my opinion. But, I think he’s one of the better bigs in the draft.
Had he gone to college and put up these same numbers, they’d be talking about him as a top-5 pick. He was our most physical-ready player as far as strength. He competed, he learned a new position on the fly. I thought his numbers show that he can compete at a high level. To me, he’s one of the better bigs in the draft. I think he’s kind of getting a little bit overshadowed, but he’s a really good basketball player.”
In what ways do you see him fitting into the NBA?
Hart: “He’s physical and he has a desire to get better and he’s a big body. Those things right there will allow him to compete early but it’ll allow him to have some success as well.”
How did Fanbo get better throughout the season in preparation for the draft?
Hart: “Fanbo got better by hanging in there. He came hurt, he was a little banged up when he came so he was a little behind. The speed of the game was a problem for him throughout the year, but he was able to finally start to get the speed under control, get his health under control, being able to take the physical pounding. Toward the end, he was playing his best basketball. Had we played more, he could’ve shown more of his ability. He’s going to get better because he knows what it takes now. The next obstacle for him, he’ll understand how to jump over that and get to the prize.”
What impressed you about Fanbo as a player or person?
Hart: “He’s a very, very good shooter. Being that he has that size, he was the best shooter on our team. When healthy, he has a really good work ethic. His main thing is just staying healthy and getting his body stronger.”
What do you want to see him add to his game during this offseason?
Hart: “The whole understanding of the game. Knowing when and when not to–being like a master of the pace of the game. If you want to run, run. If you don’t want to run, slow it down. Being able to control the game offensively and defensively–that’s coming with experience, but I think next year he’ll be able to master it.”
Did anything surprise you about Scoot as a player or person?
Hart: “As a player, it’s surprising that he’s leaps and bounds ahead of other 17-year-olds–now he’s 18. Just his physical physique and his determination. His maturity, he was a young kid and he took this experience so serious–it showed me that he’s on something that I couldn’t even fathom that’s going on in his brain. I think he’s trying to be one of the greatest ever. You just leave people alone when they have that type of desire.”
Do you think Scoot could compete in the NBA right now?
Hart: “Yeah, I came out in ‘96, I think Kobe got drafted at 17–it would’ve been a similar situation. Yeah, he’s definitely ready to compete and do well at that level. It was just unfortunate he had to wait until he’s 19, but I think he’s ready now.”