xml:space="preserve">
xml:space="preserve">
Advertisement

Diamond Stone out to make best of dropping in NBA draft, Jake Layman thrilled to be picked

"Every big [man] picked in front of me, it’s just like when I see them, it’s going to be war," said Diamond Stone after being selected in the second round of the NBA draft. (Kevin Richardson/Baltimore Sun video)

Their reactions — a few minutes and several hundred miles apart — were seemingly reflective of the expectations former Maryland players Diamond Stone and Jake Layman had going into the 2016 NBA draft and what eventually transpired Thursday night.

Seated between his parents in the recreation room of a campus apartment complex in College Park, Stone tried to feign a smile after being picked No. 40 overall by the New Orleans Pelicans and immediately traded to the Los Angeles Clippers.

Advertisement

Expecting to be a first-round draft choice, the disappointment was obvious on Stone's face and among a small group of family, friends and a few members of the local media who watched on a big-screen television as the evening unfolded at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

It was approaching midnight when the 6-foot-11 center finally got to hear his name called.

Advertisement

"Just make the best of it, even though it's not where I wanted to be as far as the pick," Stone said. "I'm thankful and blessed to be picked by the Clippers and really any team. It's just best to be in the NBA. It's hard to get in the NBA. Only 60 players will get picked and I was one of those 60."

There was a quick burst of applause, which quickly faded, when Stone's name was called.

That was in sharp contrast to the scene at Layman's house outside Boston, where more than 60 family and friends sat in various rooms watching on television. Tim Layman said Friday that he and other adults were in one room while his son, four brothers and friends watched in the other.

"It went to a commercial and all of a sudden we heard a loud noise coming from where Jake and the younger people were and we knew something happened," Tim Layman said.

Jake Layman, who had tried to relieve some of the stress by playing golf earlier in the day, said that it wasn't easy to wait.

"I was obviously very stressed out, because I had no clue what was going to happen, with how crazy this draft was," Layman said during a teleconference early Friday morning. "Once I got picked, everybody just went crazy and it was just a great scene."

After hearing from agent Mark Bartelstein that he had hit "a home run," Layman learned that the Portland Trail Blazers paid more than $1 million and traded a couple of future draft picks to get him from the Orlando Magic, which had picked him at No. 47.

"When I found out that Portland traded to get that pick and I'm the only pick, that's a good sign," Layman said. "It definitely gives me a lot of confidence. It shows that they really wanted me. It shows that they worked to get me."

Layman had not worked out for the Trail Blazers, but team officials had talked with him at the NBA draft combine and had attended a Pro Day run by the 6-9 forward's Chicago-based management team for its clients, including Vanderbilt point guard Wade Baldwin IV and Notre Dame point guard Demetrius Jackson.

"I've heard that they were very interested," Layman said of the Trail Blazers.

On a team led by guards Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum, Layman should find a role at both small forward, where he started and finished his career at Maryland, and power forward, where he played effectively as a junior.

"Jake is a high-character young man with a skill set we value on both ends of the floor," Blazers president of basketball operations Neil Olshey said in a statement. "His ability to defend multiple positions and shoot the ball from range will be positive additions to our roster."

Advertisement

Layman's biggest competition for minutes is free-agent forward Maurice Harkless, who makes more than $2 million and had shot 30 percent from 3-point range in his career. Layman shot a career-best 39.6 percent on 3-point attempts last season and increased his range well past the NBA line.

"I've watched them play a lot. They shoot a lot of 3s, they run," said Layman, whose comfort playing in the open court should work well in the more wide-open NBA Western Conference. "I think it's a great fit. … I think it suits me well."

How Stone will figure into the Clippers rotation is a little more problematic, given that the team took North Carolina power forward Brice Johnson with its first-round pick. Stone will likely go in as a possible backup to All-NBA first-team center DeAndre Jordan.

"I have to accept the role they give me," Stone said. "Every team gives me a role. It was bigger in high school. It got smaller. At Maryland, it was about the team and the NBA is going to be about the team. I have to accept my role and have to work my way up."

Told that Jordan was Maryland coach Mark Turgeon's first one-and-done player when both were at Texas A&M — Jordan also went to the Clippers in the second round — Stone said, "And he's doing really well. So I'll just follow in that footstep. I'll be around him a lot and learn different things from him. It'll be fun."

Asked if he will use the first-round snub as motivation, Stone said, "Of course, I probably have the biggest chip on my shoulder in the draft I think. I'm hungry and every big picked in front of me, when I see them it's got to be war and I just need to play my hardest every game, just show those people why it was a mistake to sleep on me."

Maryland assistant coach Bino Ranson, who was instrumental in recruiting Stone to College Park and watched the NBA draft with Stone and his family, said he expects a player who set the school's single-game freshman scoring record with 39 points against Penn State to respond well.

"When his back is up against the wall, that's when he comes out swinging and I have all the confidence in the world that he's going to come out swinging and really push to become the best player he can become," Ranson said.

Derrick Powell, the vice president for athlete representation at Tandem Sports and Entertainment — the Northern Virginia management group that signed Stone — went as far as to predict that "Diamond will be an All-Star."

Stone said that he doesn't regret his decision to sign with an agent and forego his remaining college eligibility. Layman said his decision to return for his senior year proved to be beneficial on and off the court.

"First and foremost, getting my degree was very important to me and my family," Layman said. "To be able to finish that out was huge. I definitely elevated my game to the next level. I put myself in a position to be drafted."

Said Ranson, "Jake's a kid who stayed for four years, he trusts the process and that's what it's all about. It's a testament to our program to have a kid play four years and reach his dream, which is to get his name called, which he did."

Layman will see his first action with the Trail Blazers on their summer league team in Las Vegas, where former teammates Robert Carter Jr. and Dez Wells will be trying out for other teams beginning in mid-July.

Carter, who went undrafted Thursday after reportedly turning down offers from the Atlanta Hawks and Denver Nuggets to be selected in the second round and sent to Europe, was invited to be a part of the Golden State Warriors' summer league team, as he tries to earn an invitation to training camp. Wells, who played last season in the D-League after going undrafted in 2015, will be with the Chicago Bulls.

Advertisement

Stone will be headed even sooner to the Clippers' summer league team in Orlando.

"I will go to Orlando and have to destroy," Stone said. "I will do what I do. I have to play Diamond basketball and play Clipper basketball at the same time."

twitter.com/sportsprof56

Recommended on Baltimore Sun

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement