Devin Vassell works out with Knicks, sets the record straight on viral video

New York Knicks, Devin Vassell

There was a lot of fuss when a Devin Vassell video of shooting in an awkward form made the social media rounds last month.

The mere fact that Vassell had to address it during his in-person workouts, which included the New York Knicks, only shows the power that social media wields these days. But with that power, it should come with great responsibility.

Setting the record straight

Fortunately for Vassell, the ‘shooting-gate scandal’ happened before he went to in-person workouts with the Knicks (No. 8), Golden State Warriors (No. 2), Atlanta Hawks (No. 6), Boston Celtics (No. 14), and the Orlando Magic (No. 15).

“Of course, I’ve seen the video too. I felt I don’t have any reason to change my jump shot. I haven’t changed my shot,” Vassell defended himself during his media zoom call on Thursday.

He said the viral video was shot towards the end of one of his workouts, where they were having fun.

“I guess we’re shooting it a lot deeper, from the regular NBA three-point line and I just think it’s from the angle where he took it, it made it looked like uncomfortable. I kind of had it farther from normally what I do but I’ve never attempted to change my jump shot and won’t change it because I had a lot of success with the jump shot that I have right now,” Vassell said.

“The video came out and literally next week, I had my workouts. Once they saw it in person, everything was fine. It’s something we can laugh about it now.”

More than a 3-and-D player

Vassell is one of the more fascinating prospects of this draft that is widely considered unpredictable but filled with hidden gems.

He profiles as a 3-and-D player, but he says he has a lot more to offer.

Vassell made 70 three-pointers throughout his two-year stay at Florida State on a 41.8 percent clip. The 70 isn’t that much of a sample, but context matters. He was only a fringe rotational player as a rookie in a stacked team to put it in its proper perspective. Even during his sophomore year, where he was the star of the Seminoles team, which won the regular ACC championship, he needed to fit his game within coach Leonard Hamilton’s equal opportunity system.

There’s a lot more room for Vassell to grow.

Hamilton gave his star player a ringing endorsement, raving about his transformation during those two years that said a lot about Vassell’s character, patience, and coachability.

“Sometimes, people evaluate all the physical attributes but I think it’s very difficult to evaluate, which is the most important thing, is that your mentality, your emotions in the game, your IQ, your ability to make decisions, and how you respond to stressful situations. Well, that’s what they call it the “It” factor, and Devin, he checks all those boxes. And the good thing about him is his best basketball is still ahead of him,” Hamilton told Empire Sports Media a couple of months ago.

Knicks workout

The intangibles are hard to quantify on videos. But the tangible aspects of Vassell’s game — outside shooting and his defensive skillset — have drawn NBA teams to him, particularly the Knicks who went all the way to his hometown in Atlanta, Georgia to watch his controversial shot in person.

“I worked out at this church and we put an NBA three-point line. It’s a great gym and we kinda simulate everything. Coach [Tom] Thibodeau was definitely at the workout. He’s a great coach,” Vassell said.

Perhaps Thibodeau was looking at someone who fits the mold of the player he covets for the Knicks — a mobile wingman with defensive tenacity and shooting to boot.

“We talked about defense. We talked about kinda what their team is looking forward and I feel I can help that team and kinda fill that void,” Vassell said.

He’s confident that he’s shown enough to merit the Knicks’ eighth pick.

“Everything went extremely well with the Knicks,” Vassell said. “It’s going to be a blessing if I can be able to be a part of that team.”

But whether the feeling is mutual or not, we’ll have to find out next Wednesday.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

New York Knicks intrigued by Devin Vassell’s nasty competitive streak

New York Knicks, Devin Vassell

The New York Knicks are looking forward to the 2020 NBA Draft on November 18th. In the midst of talking to NCAA coaches, assistant coaches, scouts, and so forth, the assistant coach for the Florida State Seminoles by the name of Charlton Young had an interesting viewpoint of Devin Vassell’s overall competitive nature.

FSU’s assistant coach Charlton Young told NBA Insider Ian Begley the following.

When he first came to Florida State, I thought he might be there for three-four years and be a pro,” Young says. “Like, ‘Bambi’s going to get some bucks on his head, and it’s going to be over.’… Exactly what I thought was going to happen, happened. But what I didn’t factor in – he was (a) high-character gym rat.

“His humility was through the roof and all he wanted to do was get better. Everything we told him, he tried to do.

According to Ian Begley, Young was the first coach from a top program to offer Devin Vassell a scholarship. After receiving a heads up from Steve Bouye, the head of Vassell’s AAU team, Charlton Young went to watch the 6’7″ 180lbs forward at a scrimmage. After just a few minutes, he offered Devin Vassell a scholarship. Young immediately knew Vassell was a special talent.

The New York Knicks are intrigued by a worker, not a talker:

Devin Vassell doesn’t use words to win over coaches, scouts, General Managers, and so forth. The young talented forward from FSU attacks his weaknesses vigorously with hard work. The approach to the game and work ethic of the young NBA Draft Lottery candidate is impressive, and it’s also evident in his shooting improvement from the high school level to college.

According to Young, a Devin Vassell shooting video recently surfaced on social media, which had Knick fans panicking, and writing off the young talent was nothing more than Vassell just messing around at the end of a workout. The assistant coach at FSU also went on to say that Vassell didn’t change his form at all.

Knicks Draft Watch: Warriors eye Devin Vassell in potential trade down

New York Knicks, Devin Vassell

It’s no secret that the Golden State Warriors are studying all options, including trading, with regards to their No. 2 pick. The question is will the New York Knicks field an offer to trade up?

San Francisco Chronicle recently reported that Florida State University’s Devin Vassell is on the Warriors’ radar should they trade down.

According to multiple league sources, the Warriors believe Vassell is the top wing defender in this draft and would strongly consider him if they trade back to the 5-10 range. There is an outside chance that Golden State could even take him at No. 2 if it doesn’t receive an enticing offer to move down.

Considered as one of the top two wings in this Draft Class along with Auburn’s Isaac Okoro, Vassell is all over the Draft Boards. He is projected to be selected anywhere from No. 6-12 range.

Vassell could add bench depth for the Warriors who are expected to have the Splash Brothers— Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson— back at full health next season. Vassell has drawn Thompson’s comparisons.

“People like to identify a player in college with a player in the pros. And I always said I thought he was more like Klay Thompson,” FSU coach Leonard Hamilton said in an interview with SB Nation’s Golden State of Mind.

Hamilton cited Thompson’s 41.2 percent three-point clip as a freshman in Washington State while his prized wingman, Vassell, shot 42 percent from deep in his two seasons with the Seminoles.

“And he has a lot of those qualities where he knows the ball is supposed to go going to the basket. He’s extremely confident, he always anxious to take big shots. One of the aspects of his game, I probably didn’t utilize as much as his ability to create his own shot. When we needed him to create his own shot, he was able to go and make fall away fades and step-back jumpers and things that are going to allow him to be even more effective at the next level. He is a shotmaker, there’s no doubt about that,” Hamilton added.

The Knicks currently have the No. 8 pick and are also strongly considering Vassell and Okoro along with Iowa’s combo guard Tyrese Haliburton should they still be available. But it’s also no secret that the Knicks, who are looking for a lead guard, has LaMelo Ball on top of their Draft Board.

Ball has revealed during his Draft Combine media availability that he had conversations with the Knicks before the Lottery.  It was the only team he confirmed he had interviewed. When he was asked if he feels the Knicks would trade up for him, he had an inconclusive answer.

“That I don’t know. Maybe, maybe not,” Ball said.

The following day, Ball curiously withdrew from the Draft Combine nixing other NBA teams’ chance to interview him. He still could or may have selected which teams to talk to outside the Knicks.

The Knicks have the Draft capital and young assets at their disposal to maneuver a trade. But they lack the veteran piece that the Warriors would likely covet.

However, there’s a unanimous belief according to ESPN insider Tim Bontemps last month that the Warriors will try to accumulate trade pieces to position themselves for a potential run at Washington’s Bradley Beal in case he becomes available during next season’s trade deadline.

If that’s the Warriors’ long play, then the Knicks could be in the mix to snag their No. 2 pick in this Draft.

New York Knicks: Devin Vassell has the “It” factor, says FSU coach

New York Knicks, Devin Vassell

The New York Knicks could find their “it” factor in Devin Vassell:

Devin Vassell was only a three-star recruit when he entered Florida State University.  Two years later, he’s leaving the Seminoles as a widely considered lottery pick in this year’s NBA Draft.

FSU coach Leonard Hamilton wasn’t surprised at all. To him, it was a validation of what they saw in Vassell when they recruited him out of a nondescript high school in Atlanta.

“This is the reason why we’re consistent.  We do a great job evaluating.  We identified him as a guy with good potential and we are pleased that he has really panned out just like we thought he would,” Hamilton told Empire Sports Media.

Hamilton has successfully built a strong program in Tallahassee that has consistently produced NBA players. Under his watch, the Seminoles have sent 14 players to the NBA — from Al Thornton to Malik Beasley and Jonathan Isaac.

For Vassell, the NBA Draft Day will be the culmination of two years of hard work and patience in the FSU basketball program.

“Devin started out as a freshman more of a role player at the beginning of the season.  And at the end of the season, in a game that we have to win in the ACC tournament to get to the semifinals against Virginia Tech, he was the guy who hit the three in the deep corner to tie the game and gives us a chance to go on overtime and get to the semifinals,” Hamilton recalled.

Vassell’s rise wasn’t a question of how but just a matter of when.

“That says a lot about his patience, his coachability.  Despite not playing much early in the season, he was prepared for the big moments which says a lot about his character,” Hamilton told Empire Sports Media.

In his sophomore year, Vassell led the Seminoles to the ACC regular-season championship.  He could have led them to a deep run in the NCAA tournament, if not for the pandemic.

From 10.7 minutes in his freshman year, his playing time shot up to 28.8 minutes, and he responded big-time, leading the well-balanced Seminoles in scoring (12.7 points) and rebounds (5.1), second both in blocked shots (0.9) and steals (1.4).

Many, if not all, draft analysts see him as a solid 3-and-D prospect.

Unknown to many, Vassell wasn’t born a shooter. But through sheer hard work, he was able to morph from a 21.3 percent three-point shooter in high school to over 40 percent in his two years in Florida State. His 6’9 wingspan and tremendous motor on both ends of the floor have made him an intriguing prospect.

“Whoever gets him will get a hell of a player. Because he is a great shooter, he loves to play defense, he’s coachable. He has all those attributes and he’ll make good contributions to whoever drafts him,” Hamilton said.

This season, we’ve seen the rise of shooters Tyler Herro and Duncan Robinson, two players who were not highly drafted.  Robinson, in fact, even was undrafted.  But their shooting and court smarts have helped the Miami Heat advance deeper in the playoffs.  And that could be the trajectory of Vassell’s NBA career or could be even bigger depending on where he lands.

“What separates Devin from a lot of guys is even though he has an even-keeled temperament, he has extreme confidence but he’s not selfish. He’s a team-guy but he has a knack of putting the ball in the basket.  He’s one those guys that you can’t leave open.  If you don’t contest his shot, a high percentage of those shots will go in. He’s shot over 40 percent of his three-point shots two years in a row. That speaks for itself,” he continued.

While Vassell’s game is tailor-fit into today’s NBA, it has also a throwback feel of an Allan Houston with that above-the-head, high trajectory jumper.

It’s no wonder the New York Knicks have put him on their radar.  A highly placed source told Empire Sports Media that the Knicks have reached out to Florida State early this week to gather more information on the team’s experience with Vassell and his one-and-done teammate Patrick Williams on and off the court.

Hamilton politely declined to confirm the Knicks’ growing interest.  All he said is that all 30 teams have, at one point, inquired about one or two of his three players in the Draft, including senior guard Trent Forrest.

It won’t be hard for Vassell to bring his shooting to the NBA, but the bigger question is: how will he thrive in the league as a defender?

Hamilton is confident that Florida State has prepared him to succeed in the next level.

“That’s all we do (ball screens) in practice.  In our league, our conference, we deal with a lot of ball screens.  Most of the NBA, in my opinion, they’re spacing the floor doing a lot of dribble drives. Not nearly as much ball screens as it once was.  Devin will absolutely have no problem defending (in the NBA) because he’s long, athletic, fast-learner and we were one of the better defensive teams in the country so he was well-trained,” Hamilton said.

But what makes Vassell stand out, Hamilton point to the kid’s intangibles, which is wrapped under his 6-foot-7 and 194-pounds scrawny frame.

“Sometimes, people evaluate all the physical attributes but I think it’s very difficult to evaluate, which is the most important thing, is that your mentality, your emotions in the game, your IQ, your ability to make decisions, and how you respond to stressful situations.  Well, that’s what they call it the “It” factor and Devin, he checks all those boxes,” Hamilton said.  “And the good thing about him is his best basketball is still ahead of him.”

Hamilton described Vassell as a gym rat.  If he’s not shooting the lights out, he’s in the weight room.  He’s not worried at all that Vassell has a lean frame. To him, it’s just a matter of time before the 20-year old wingman grows bigger, thicker, and stronger.  And when that happens, he believes, he’ll take his game to another level.

What separates a great pick from a draft bust is what the trained eye cannot always see. And Vassell, Hamilton said, has everything that points to him becoming an impact player in the NBA.

“Devin is a high-character youngster.  He has a great support system with his mother and father.  They are God-fearing people, he’s very religious and focused.  He has a tremendous basketball IQ.  He has great attention to detail.  He is extremely unselfish, a great teammate.  He’s a very hard worker.  He’s a fast-learner.  He has a tremendous amount of confidence.  He’s a guy when the game is on the line, he’s focused and his confidence rises and he’s able to deliver under stressful situations. He’s the guy who has the ‘It’ factor,” Hamilton said. 

Call him bias or whatever you want, but Hamilton has been in the business for so long that he knows it’s real when sees one. His coaching staff has been trained to value character more than high school accolades.  And that’s what led them to unearth a diamond in the rough hiding in Peachtree Ridge High School in Atlanta.

Vassell is no longer the best kept secret high school player in Atlanta.  He’s no longer playing under the radar. But his coach is glad to see he’s embracing the challenge, and he’s extremely confident about one thing: Vassell rises when the lights are at their brightest.

Vassell, Williams on the Knicks radar; NBA Draft pushed back

New York Knicks, Devin Vassell

The New York Knicks are not exclusively looking at point guards for their lottery pick in the NBA Draft.

The Knicks, who are slated to pick at No.8 barring any trade, have recently looked at two intriguing prospects that will be available at the second half of the lottery.

Empire Sports Media has learned yesterday that the Knicks have made their due diligence on Florida State University’s 3-and-D prospect Devin Vassell along with his one-and-done teammate Patrick Williams, the youngest college player in the Draft.

According to a highly placed source, the Knicks made a thorough background check on both players which wasn’t only confined to the coaching staff.

When reached for comment, FSU coach Leonard Hamilton neither confirmed nor denied the Knicks’ growing interest in his two-star players.

“[I’ve talked to] Just about everybody in the league who has the opportunity [to pick them]. I am saying, we’ve three kids who we think we’re going to be drafted, so about just every NBA team.  To be honest with you, it’s hard to even remember who all they were.  We’ve talked to so many teams about Trent Forrest, Patrick and Devin,” Hamilton told Empire Sports Media. “I’m not going to give particular names out there.”

A two-way player and a lights out shooter, the 6’6 Vassell could be the safest pick for the Knicks outside a motley of playmakers that will be available to them at No.8.

Vassell has blossomed from a role player as a freshman to a lottery talent in his sophomore year. The small forward made the All-ACC Second Team Selection after averaging a team-high 12.7 points and 5.1 rebounds with second-best 1.9 steals and 0.9 shot blocks.  He also shot an outstanding 41.5 percent from deep, a valuable skill in the modern NBA, while leading the Seminoles to their first ACC regular-season title in 2020.

Several Mock Drafts have pegged him to be picked from as high as 8th to as low as 16th.

“Devin is going to play well regardless of where he goes and the coach he’ll play for.  He’s well prepared. I don’t think it matters [which team picks him].  He’s capable of learning whatever style of play he’ll be asked to do,” Hamilton said. 

Williams, on the other hand, is just the third one-and-done player from FSU after Malik Beasley (2016) and Jonathan Isaac 2017). He was named to the ACC All-Freshman Team and won the ACC Sixth Man of the Year after averaging a fourth team-best 9.2 points and 4.0 rebounds, a team-best 1.1 blocked shots, and 1.0 steal.

“He’s young, one of the youngest in the Draft. But I think he’ll fit in very well because he’s so versatile and he has an NBA-ready body,” Hamilton said of Williams.

While Williams is seen more as a project, he has a high upside as a 6’8 power forward who can defend basically all positions in the NBA.

Both players have also made it to the ACC Academic Honor Roll with Vassell making it for the second year in a row.

Hamilton, a three-time ACC Coach of the Year, has pride himself of having a holistic approach to his basketball program.

“We hold academics with a high esteem and our athletes have responded very well,” Hamilton said.

Whether the Knicks would pick Vassell or Williams or somebody else, Hamilton has faith in Tom Thibodeau’s coaching staff that they can turn things around in New York.

“I know Kenny (Payne), I know (Mike) Woodson.  I know a lot of positive things about Thibodeau. I have a tremendous respect for him. I think he’ll (Johnnie Bryant) be a great addition to the staff,” Hamilton said.

“I have a lot of confidence that the new administration at the Knicks will be determined and they are more than qualified.  I think they will do everything to bring back the Knicks’ glory days of the past,” he added.

Meanwhile, the league has pushed back the NBA Draft to Nov. 18 which remains subject to change as circumstances warrant it.

The delay will allow more time for the Knicks and the rest of the league to evaluate the Draft pool which is viewed as the most unpredictable since 2013.

The Stage Is Set For Unusually Smart Decision Making By The New York Knicks Front Office

New York Knicks, Leon Rose

On Thursday, August 20th, many New York Knick fans witnessed their beloved team fall two spots into the lap of the eighth overall pick of the upcoming NBA Draft on October 16th, 2020. Many were hurt once they noticed the Minnesota Timberwolves, Golden State Warriors, and the Charlotte Hornets had occupied the first three overall picks respectively.

Many diehard Knick fans voiced their displeasure on Twitter along with many other social media platforms by accusing the NBA Draft of being “rigged” and “fixed”. However, it’s very possible that in a non top-heavy draft, picking eighth may be the best thing to happen to the New York Knickerbockers this year especially under a special player development and savvy basketball minded staff.

Despite the displeasure from New York Knick fans, the jokes from anti-Knick fans, along with more jokes from anti-Knick sources, the New York Knicks front office might actually have fun this draft without the pressure of choosing a top-three draft pick which could potentially handcuff an organization to certain talents, which might not even be the true desired pick for the vision of the president and General Manager. It’s very possible to land great talent with two opportunities in the first round of this year’s draft. Knicks have the eighth and the twenty-seventh first-round picks.

Some at MSG are fans of FSU’s Devin Vassell according to Ian Begley.

Devin Vassell could be the perfect plug and play draft pick for the New York Knicks. Tom Thibodeau enjoys coaching high defensive IQ players with motor and toughness. Devin Vassell’s style fits the bill. In addition to Vassell’s individual and team defense he displayed in Florida State University under Coach Leonard Hamilton, the first coach to be named coach of the year in both the Big East and ACC, Vassell has shown improvement on his off the dribble shooting and his three-point shooting.

Vassell averaged 12.7-points per contest along with 1.4-steals last season for FSU. Devin Vassell at 6’6″ along with his 6’10” wingspan could be the perfect 3&D prospect for the Knicks moving forward alongside Frank Ntilikina and RJ Barrett. With an improved Mitchell Robinson playing center, the addition of Vassell would enhance the Knicks defensively under Tom Thibodeau with even more room for future growth collectively.

Kira Lewis Jr. is another special talent who very much may become the Knicks new starting point guard next season under Tom Thibodeau, Kenny Payne, and Mike Woodson. The ultra speedy 6’3″ 165lbs sophomore point-guard out of Alabama averaged a solid 18.5-points along with 5.2-assists last season. Lewis also averaged 4.8-rebounds per contest last season for Alabama. Kira Lewis Jr. is a menace on the fast-break, a category the Knicks struggle with. The former Alabama Crimson Tide speedster’s shot creation, on-ball defense, and playmaking skills would help the Knicks tremendously for years to come. Plus, a Kira Lewis Jr., Mitchell Robinson pick and roll would be something to watch for us Knick fans. Expert player developmental coach Johnny Bryant would help Kira Lewis tremendously.

“And with the eighth pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, the New York Knicks select Saddiq Bey from Villanova University!” Those same exact words may come from Adam Silvers mouth during the virtual edition of the NBA Draft if the NBA chooses to announce the picks similar to the traditional way. Saddiq Bey is a very intriguing prospect.

The 6’8″ 220lbs prospect out of Villanova possesses a 6’10” wingspan and he’s a deadly three-point shooter. Energy, motor, unselfishness, and defensive versatility sums up what makes Saddiq Bey an intriguing prospect for the New York Knicks. Bey’s ability to stretch the floor as a small forward or power forward is crucial for the Knicks and will not go unnoticed by the Knick front office. A smart individual and team defender who’s versatile enough to guard a variety of players at different positions would be an excellent addition for a Tom Thibodeau coached team. His solid lateral foot speed and high defensive IQ would be accepted amongst the Knick fan base.

The New York Knicks don’t need the top pick in this year’s uncertain draft. With an established front office, the Knicks are easily positioned to win the draft with savvy additions without the need of a “big named prospect”. The Knicks are building a sturdy foundation for the future and aligning the front office with the head coach seems like a huge step in the right direction. Dolan, be patient, and don’t be pressured by the media or fans. Trusting the right process is crucial, and the Knicks decision making under the new regime hasn’t disappointed thus far.

The stage is set for some unusually smart decision making by the New York Knicks. With the additions of Andy Greer, Dice Yoshimoto, Mike Woodson, Kenny Payne, and Johnny Bryant, the Knicks are slowly putting Head Coach Tom a Thibodeau in a place where he can succeed. Alan Hahn stated similar sentiments on Twitter.

Leon Rose and the Knicks have built a coaching and culture foundation. The construction isn’t nearly finished, however. The basketball court next season will evaluate the development of the youngsters on both the main Knicks squad along with the Westchester Knicks.

Devin Vassell ‘has some fans’ in the New York Knicks organization

New York Knicks, Devin Vassell

The New York Knicks will select eighth in the 2020 NBA Draft after falling two spots in Thursday night’s draft lottery.

According to Ian Begley of SNY, Florida State wing Devin Vassell “has some fans” in the Knicks organization.

Vassell, a two-year player at Florida State, saw his minutes spike last season, going from 10.7 minutes in his freshman season to 28.8 minutes per contest in his sophomore season. Last season he started all 30 games he appeared in.

Vassell averaged 12.7 points, 5.1 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 1.4 steals and one block per game while shooting 49.0 percent from the field, 41.5 percent from beyond the arc and 73.8 percent from the free throw line in his sophomore season.

The Knicks will select in the top 10 of the NBA Draft for the fourth consecutive year. Last year they selected Duke wing RJ Barrett with the third pick; the year prior they selected Kentucky forward Kevin Knox with the ninth pick; in 2017 they selected French point guard Frank Ntilikina with the eighth pick.

The Knicks have three selections in this year’s draft: their own first-round pick, the Los Angeles Clippers’ first rounder (27) and the Charlotte Hornets’ second rounder (38).

Wings who could be available at eight include Vassell, Deni Avdija, Auburn’s Isaac Okoro, Villanova’s Saddiq Bey and Vanderbilt’s Aaron Nesmith.

Another option for the Knicks is selecting a lead guard at eight. Guards who could be available at eight include Killian Hayes, UNC’s Cole Anthony, Iowa State’s Tyrese Haliburton, Kentucky’s Tyrese Maxey and Alabama’s Kira Lewis.

New team president Leon Rose stated that Barrett and center Mitchell Robinson are “two young core pieces.” Rose and the Knicks hired former Chicago Bulls and Minnesota Timberwolves head coach Tom Thibodeau to patrol the team’s sideline. They’ve added former Kentucky assistant Kenny Payne and former Utah Jazz assistant Johnnie Bryant to Thibodeau’s staff.

The NBA Draft is scheduled to take place on Oct. 16.