Lakers, LeBron James take in Jarrett Culver pre-draft workout
EL SEGUNDO — Owners of the No. 4 overall pick in the June 20 NBA Draft, the Lakers invited prospect Jarrett Culver for an individual workout Saturday morning.
In the first such session for the team this offseason, the 20-year-old from Lubbock, Texas, sought to exhibit his shooting prowess, his competitiveness and his athleticism – all under the watchful gaze of not only his potential employers, but The King too.
“You got LeBron (James) in the gym, that’s amazing to have as a young kid like me,” Culver told reporters post-workout. “After the workout, he just told me to keep working and it was good to have him in the gym – and he’s LeBron.
“I know LeBron plays here, but I didn’t expect him to be here,” added Culver, who was surprised to see the four-time MVP at UCLA Health Training Center. “You’re kind of shocked at first: ‘That’s LeBron James.’ Just seeing him, you know, he’s an icon.”
Everything else, from the Culver’s telling of it, went according to the script for the 6-foot-6, 195-pound shooting guard with the nearly 6-10 wingspan whose draft profile rose last season when he led his hometown Texas Tech Red Raiders to their first NCAA championship appearance in school history.
With beads of sweat still fresh on his brow from the workout held before Lakers personnel, which included General Manager Rob Pelinka and new coach Frank Vogel, Culver said all the right things in his time with the media.
“I’m a two-way player,” he said, adding, “an elite two-way player. I can score and I can play defense, so I feel like people see that a lot in me.
“It’s a dream to get there (to the NBA), and then once you get here, you gotta put in a lot of work. You don’t get here from accident. So I’m excited, whatever my role’s gonna be on whatever team I’m on, then I’m gonna be excited to fulfill that role.
“I’m all about winning, so my first year (at Texas Tech), it was play defense and score open shots, and that’s what I did so we could win. And this year, it’s take tougher shots and play defense still. So whatever I gotta do to win is my role.”
He played his part superbly last season at Texas Tech, showing off an all-around game and averaging 18.5 points on 46.1% shooting from the field. He also chipped in with 6.4 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 1.5 steals per game.
Asked about his recent time as “The Man” in college, Culver offered a tried-and-true explanation: “There’s a lot of work I put into it to become The Man — as you said, ‘The Man,’ — so I just put a lot of work in, my teammates helped me a lot, my coaches got me prepared every game. It’s just a lot of work you gotta put in.”
He spent his time at Texas Tech working hard to smooth out his 3-point shot, said Culver, whose 30.4% 3-point shooting rate as a sophomore nonetheless fell off the pace of the 38.2% he shot from deep as a freshman.
“I’m still confident in my shot, and I feel like every shot I shoot is going in,” Culver said. “That’s what you’re supposed to feel as a shooter.”
He also said he feels he could fit well with the Lakers, who’ve missed the playoffs for six consecutive seasons and are in a state of flux. A new coaching staff is coming aboard and free agency is approaching amid the turmoil stemming from Magic Johnson’s abrupt departure as the team’s president of basketball operations at the end of the season.
Culver focused on the Lakers’ more-distant history, and what he perceives is possible going forward.
“L.A.’s a great place out here, some of the great players have been through here,” Culver said. “And, I mean, their team, they’re growing. They have LeBron, they have a lot of great young players around him, so I feel like it’s gonna be a winning organization.”
Jarrett Culver talks about his ability as a two-way player, and leading Texas Tech to the NCAA title game. pic.twitter.com/Tp40eSkkZZ
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) June 1, 2019