The NBA combine used to be the only venue of its kind for prospects to impress general managers, scouts and other pro basketball personnel before the draft, but the next best thing is now available for college players.
The second annual Professional Basketball Combine will take place May 22 and 23 at IMG Academy in Florida. One of the 24 participants this year will be former Gophers guard Nate Mason, which was announced Friday morning.
Mason wasn’t invited to the NBA combine next week in Chicago, but the All-Big Ten point guard still has a chance to impress NBA and NBA G League teams through similar combine testing, workouts, scrimmages and interviews later this month at the PBC.
The 6-foot-2, 185-pound Georgia native averaged 16.7 points and 4.2 assists as a senior this season, finishing fifth in program history in career scoring and second in assists. Mason also helped his Big Ten team win a 3-on-3 national championship at the Final Four in San Antonio last month.
“We’re really excited to see Nate at the Professional Basketball Combine,” PBC director and founder Jake Kelfer told the Star Tribune. “When we were doing our evaluations he was someone we were interested in. When we talked with his agent, it seemed like a good fit. So we were able to make it happen. We’ll see what the future holds for Nate. He’s a hell of a player and we’re excited to see what he can do in front of teams and top level competition.”
Four of the 23 players from the inaugural PBC event last year received two-way contracts in the NBA, including former LSU guard and NBA G League rookie of the year Antonio Blakeney. Among the more than dozen players from the combine to play in the G League was former Indiana guard James Blackmon Jr.
“The process of building the event was we wanted to create a platform for players to have a high level of exposure opportunity and be able to compete in front of NBA team,” Kelfer said. “With the NBA G League expanding there’s more and more opportunities to play in America and to have the chance to be seen. We wanted to be the platform outside of the NBA combine to really help these players get to the next level.”
Other players currently invited to participate in the PBC this year, include LSU's Brandon Sampson, Providence forward Rodney Bullock and Mount St. Mary's point guard Junior Robinson.
The PBC players each have a donation site to raise money for the PeacePlayers organization, which focuses on building opportunities and leadership programs for youth in urban areas across the country. Mason's fundraising page is here.