Former Oregon forward LJ Figueroa reportedly worked out with the Boston Celtics and met with the San Antonio Spurs over Zoom this week, according to Adam Zagoria of The New York Times.
Figueroa was not invited to the NBA Draft Combine, but he has built an impressive resumé playing professionally in the Dominican Republic since Oregon’s loss to USC in the Sweet 16 just three months ago. He became the second player to win Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player in the league — Torneo Baloncesto Superior del Distrito Nacional (TBS Distrito).
He was also the first overall pick in the 2021 draft for the Liga Nacional de Baloncesto, the top professional league in the Dominican Republic.
This will be Figueroa’s second attempt at entering the NBA, as he declared for the 2020 NBA draft prior to transferring to Oregon from St. John’s. The Lawrence, Mass. native committed to New Mexico State but transferred to Odessa College in Texas before ever playing for the Aggies.
Having played college basketball in Texas and grown up in Massachusetts, the Spurs and Celtics would be rather seamless fits for Figueroa. He enjoyed his best seasons of college hoops in Queens, New York, at St. John’s, where he averaged 14.5 points in his two-year stint with the Red Storm.
Figueroa had a solid final college season at Oregon in 2020-21, finishing third on the team in scoring with 12.3 points per game and leading the team in rebounds with 6.1 per game. He was crucial in the Ducks’ second round upset win over Iowa, knocking down five threes on his way to a 21-point performance.
He has had some experience learning from former NBA players that will help him on his journey to the league. In his first year at St. John’s, he was coached by Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famers Chris Mullin and Mitch Richmond.
While playing professionally in the Dominican Republic, Figueroa played with former NBA second-round pick Tony Mitchell and NBA G League player Paris Bass.
The 2021 NBA draft will be held July 29. Figueroa would likely be a second-round pick if selected, but any team that picks him up will get a versatile player that can score in bunches and is a strong rebounder at 6’6” and 200 pounds.
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