The Memphis Grizzlies worked out six NBA Draft-eligible players — four of them standing 6-foot-10 or taller — at the FedExForum on Wednesday.
Former University of Kentucky center Dakari Johnson was the best of the bunch.
The workout was overseen by Memphis assistant coach Bob Thornton, whose specialty is molding frontcourt players. Grizzlies General Manager Chris Wallace was also there, and he heaped praise on Johnson afterward.
"Dakari is a real student of the game," Wallace told The Commercial Appeal, "and as conscientious a young man as I have ever encountered in a workout setting."
The workout, according to Wallace, revolved around Johnson, whose audition in Memphis began in earnest Tuesday night, when Wallace and Ed Stefanski, the executive vice president of player personnel, took him to dinner.
It was at the restaurant that Wallace said he developed an appreciation for Johnson the person, a youngster who "locked in" on conversation and was outwardly curious about the NBA — from generic questions about the league to more specific inquiries about the pre-draft workout process.
The value of getting to know the person, Wallace explained, is paramount. A stat sheet and game film can tell you one thing about an individual, but a conversation away from the court can tell you another.
"You have to get a feel for how important this is," Wallace said. "Do they love to play? Can they handle adversity? Are they willing to put the work in?"