Even though we both grew up in the Cleveland area, I first met Rodger Bohn a couple years ago through writing for SLAM. Besides being a great dude, Rodger also grinds as hard as anyone I know in the basketball business.
In addition to covering the game, Bohn also works for Synergy Sports and is breaking down film on a full-time basis.
He is currently kicking off his annual pre-draft workout tour for SLAM where he will personally attend and cover the individual private workouts for over 40 of the NBA's top prospects.
I caught up with Bohn earlier this week to talk about his pre-draft tour, as well as to ask him who he thinks the Cavaliers should be targeting in this June's draft.
StepienRules: Before we get into the draft prospects, can you first fill everyone in on your journey through the basketball world prior to covering the game for SLAM and other outlets?
Rodger Bohn: I grew up on the west side of Cleveland and headed to Lakewood for high school. We had the winningest team in our school's history my senior year and I was fortunate enough to play with numerous college players like Matt Fannin (Navy), Dave Fox (St. Bonaventure), Mark Fannin (Navy), Greg Vlosich (Cleveland State), Verdell Billingsley (Toledo, then Ferris State), John Dillingham (Fairmont State), and others.
I was always more of a glue guy on the team, trying to lead by example with my hustle and never putting up huge stats. From high school, I went to Cleveland State for two years. I coached at Lakewood during my freshman year of college, then tried to walk-on at Cleveland State during my sophomore year. I recall guarding Modibo Niakate in open gym (who is now playing professionally in France’s top league) and realizing I certainly wasn’t equipped to defend a D-1 shooting guard.
From Cleveland State, I went to Kent State for my last two years. It was at this time that I began working with Cleveland Basketball Club on the AAU circuit and doing some freelance work for Rivals. I then went on to be a student assistant my last year at Kent, learning from some great guys like Jim Christian (Ohio U head coach), Rob Senderoff (current Kent State coach), and Josh Oppenheimer (Chicago-based NBA trainer). At that point, I knew that I was destined for a career in basketball and have worked my way up ever since.
SR: And now you're living in North Carolina these days when you're not traveling, correct? How long have you been down there?
RB: I’ve been down in North Carolina now for about three years. I came down here right around the lockout to do more college work. Living in ACC country, I see far more college games than I saw living in Cleveland. Of course, I’m not watching as much NBA basketball as I used to given that the Bobcats games are blacked out here, so I’m forced to spend my fair share of time catching up on the NBA game via Synergy.
SR: Reading up on your High School High blog at SLAM, looks like you've been spending time recently with Victor Oladipo, Trey Burke, James Ennis and others--who all have you attended workouts with so far on your predraft tour?
RB: Man, I’ve been all over. We’ve got stuff with Burke, Oladipo, Jamaal Franklin, Ricardo Ledo, Peyton Siva, Erik Murphy, James Ennis, Mark Lyons, Deshaun Thomas, Zeke Marshall, Colton Iverson, etc. It’s honestly kind of insane to think that I’ve seen more players workout than most NBA teams have at this point.
SR: Who has impressed you the most?
RB: Naturally, guys like Oladipo and Trey Burke are going to impress you the most being the most talented guys. Oladipo went through his workout as if it were Game 7 of the NBA Finals. Trey Burke went straight from the airport to the gym, then shot the lights out of the ball from the NBA line. Jamaal Franklin is a guy who showed a lot more than what he did at San Diego State, namely off of the dribble and with his consistency from three, which should shoot up him draft boards.
Colton Iverson is another guy who really surprised me by measuring right around 7‘0 in shoes, setting the hardest screens of anyone in the Draft, and being deceptively athletic. Then you have a guy like Peyton Siva who everyone already basically knows, but actually to see that his reputation is accurate. By that, I mean that he really does push his teammates, gives max effort at all times, and is the type of guy you’d love to have as a teammate. As with most players, you can see a whole lot more when you’re in the flesh than you do when you’re watching from your couch.
SR: As far as your hometown Cavs, who are a few guys you would tell Chris Grant to be targeting with the Cavaliers' first pick?
RB: Naturally, you want to address a need. For the Cavs, it seems to be at the 3. Otto Porter and Shabazz Muhammad are the two best options there. I think people are really sleeping on Muhammad. Everyone frets upon his lack of defense, but he has all of the ideal tools; and look at all of the guys like LeBron, Kobe, Paul George, etc that really didn’t learn how to defend until they hit the league.
SR: Who should the Cavs be targeting later in the first round with their second pick?
RB: I wouldn’t mind seeing the Cavs grab a center with that second pick. Rudy Gobert probably has the most upside of any of the guys who will be there. He’s got a 7‘9 wingspan, great basketball lineage, and really produced late in the year for Cholet.
With Varejao on the books for two more years, I think you have to take a look at a developmental center such as Gobert, Dieng, Nogueira, or go with the best player left on the board. The 'bookies' are certainly tipping them to do well."
SR: When was the first time you saw some of those guys you've mentioned play?
RB: I don’t do much with middle school basketball, but I’ve seen some of these guys play ever since their freshman year of high school. I clearly remember watching Burke, CJ McCollum, and Shabazz Muhammad play before they were sophomores. As for the rest of the American guys, I’d say that I watched 85-90% of the draftees play in high school. For the Europeans, I try to watch as much film as I can online.
SR: Who are some of the other guys you will be attending workouts with and covering for SLAM in the coming weeks?
RB: We’ve got a lot. Mason Plumlee, Tim Hardaway Jr., Allen Crabbe, Isaiah Canaan, James Southerland, Deshaun Thomas, etc. We’re still be getting in to see some more of the top-10 guys, but nothing will be set in stone until the Draft order is set once the lottery rolls around.