The draft starts at 8 p.m. Thursday and will take place at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., where Camara played his last game with the Flyers in March. The first round of the draft airs on ABC and ESPN, and the second round will be shown only on ESPN.
Camara, a 6-foot-8 forward from Belgium who played two seasons at Dayton after two seasons with the Georgia Bulldogs, is projected by some experts to be taken in the second round.
Dayton coach Anthony Grant said Wednesday he has kept in touch with Camara throughout the draft process. Camara will be in New York City during the draft, Grant said, and his mom and brother traveled from Belgium to be with him. Grant, his coaches and the rest of the Flyers will stay up to see if Camara gets drafted.
Whatever team gets Camara, whether through the draft or as an undrafted free agent, will get a versatile player, Grant said.
“I talked all year about what he was able to bring to us from a defensive standpoint,” Grant said, “and I think offensively, he’s continuing to improve as a basketball player. He’s 23 years old. Now. He’s nowhere near a finished product. So I think they’d be getting a guy with a great upside who is physically and mentally ready to step in and help a team right away.”
Grant praised Camara’s ability to guard every position on the court last season and reiterated those thoughts before the draft.
“With the way the NBA game is played now,” Grant said, “it’s critical for a guy his size to be able to switch on pick and rolls and guard multiple positions and have the physicality to be able to bang with bigger guys, getting rebounds and impacting the game. The thing I always talked about with Toumani is his impact on winning. He makes winning plays. I think that translates at every level.”
Camara worked out for the Indiana Pacers on June 2 and worked out for them again on Monday.
“It’s a dream,” Camara said. “Being able to get invited at least one time, it’s a good feeling. I can’t imagine a better situation to get invited a second time. I think it means I did a good job the first time. They want to see me a little more and analyze my game a little more. I take a lot of pride in that and respect that.”
The Pacers have three first-round picks: No. 7; No. 26; and No. 29. In the second round, they have two picks: No. 32; and No. 55.
The Boston Celtics, who have the No. 35 pick, were the only other team Camara worked out for twice.
Camara had a workout with the Charlotte Hornets on June 5, the Atlanta Hawks on June 6 and the Golden State Warriors on June 8. He worked out for the Portland Trail Blazers on May 22 with a group that included his former Dayton teammate, DaRon Holmes II.
In his latest mock draft released Tuesday, ESPN’s Jonathan Givony predicted the Pacers would take Camara with the 55th pick.
Sam Vecenie, of The Athletic, ranked Camara 67th on a list of the top-100 prospects and wrote: “It’s easy to sell yourself on a 6-foot-7 player without shoes who has a 7-foot wingspan and plays solid, switchable defense. In the NBA today, there might be no easier player type to sell yourself on. Camara is certainly worth a two-way flier, given his frame, defense and potential to shoot it. But I can’t quite get to guarantee level given that he is still a bit limited off the bounce, a bit limited as a passer and a questionable shooter. If you’re looking to invest in a draft prospect who could help you sooner rather than later if the shot comes through, Camara is a good one to take a flier on.”
Brett Siegel, of ClutchPoints.com, predicted the Brooklyn Nets will draft Camara with the 51st pick.
“Another lengthy big man who has potential for growth,” Siegel wrote, “Toumani Camara has seen his draft stock increase in recent weeks. Being able to use his size to his advantage and run the floor in transition, Camara is a modern-day power forward who plays above the rim. The Nets need some more big-man depth behind Nicolas Claxton, so Camara should fit their current agenda.”
Camara was Dayton’s captain during his two seasons at UD. Grant sees Camara’s leadership as another attribute.
“When he transferred him from Georgia,” Grant said, “we had a really young team. We talked about the need for him to come in and develop as a leader. I think he really embraced that and made it something that he took a lot of pride in. Learning how to lead, figuring out how to try to get the best out of his teammates and how to communicate with them, I think he did a great job.”