Marquette’s Gardner works out for Bucks, ready to fight for roster spot

Named the Big East's Sixth Man of the Year for the second consecutive year in 2013-14, Davante Gardner averaged 14.9 points and 5.7 rebounds per game in his senior season at Marquette.

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ST. FRANCIS, Wis. — While the players the Milwaukee Bucks are considering with the No. 2 overall pick can determine where, when and with who they work out with, Davante Gardner has no such luxury.

The former Marquette forward isn’t projected to be drafted by any of the experts, as Gardner is trying to impress the right people to earn a spot on a summer league team.

Gardner was one of six players to go through a workout with the Bucks on Friday at the Cousins Center, as Milwaukee continues to evaluate potential second-round picks. Joining Gardner was Arizona State point guard Jahii Carson, California point guard Justin Cobbs, Baylor forward Cory Jefferson, Virginia forward Akil Mitchell and Russian center Artem Klimenko.

"It went great," Gardner said. "I got frustrated a little bit because I missed some easy layups that I’m supposed to make, but everything was good other than that."


Named the Big East’s Sixth Man of the Year for the second consecutive year in 2013-14, Gardner averaged 14.9 points and 5.7 rebounds per game in his senior season at Marquette. The 6-foot-8 forward has been working out at IMG Academy in Florida and Friday’s workout with the Bucks was his first with an NBA team.

Gardner will return to Florida later Friday and continue his daily routine of two basketball workouts, a weight session, a running session on a football field and a swimming session.

"Sometimes not being drafted is not a bad thing," Bucks director of scouting Billy McKinney said. "You get to pick and choose places that might fit your needs better."

Understanding the odds are stacked against him, Gardner feels he’s ready to fight his way onto an NBA roster.

"I feel like I can get through anything because I was with Buzz Williams," Gardner said. "We had boot camp, hard individuals, practices were tough. I think that’s the hardest thing I went through in my life, so I think I can get through anything."

Despite Williams leaving for Virginia Tech, Gardner said he has kept in touch with his former coach at Marquette throughout the process of preparing for the draft.

"Just go the Marquette way," Gardner said of Williams’ advice to him. "Go hard all the time and play tough.

"Hopefully I get on a summer league team and I can make my way from there."

The most intriguing prospect at Friday’s workout was Klimenko, a 7-foot-1 center who spent last season in the Russian Super League. Klimenko is projected to be picked No. 37 overall by Draft Express, but he may decide to pull his name out of the draft before the June 16 deadline for international players.

"That’s a big question," McKinney said. "He’s 20 years old with good size and good mobility. Right now we don’t know if he’s going to stay in the draft, but we wanted to bring him in while he was in the United States to get a look at him while he was here.


"He has to get a little stronger, but we were impressed with some of the things he did out there. We’ll keep an eye on him and see if he stays in the draft and where he might go."

With three second-round picks, the Bucks could be in a position to take an international player and not bring him over to the United States right away, a common practice with NBA teams.

"We have limited roster spots this year," McKinney said. "We could package those picks, we could sell the picks — there are so many options that we have. If there’s a player there that we like that’s always a possibility."

Carson, a potential second-round pick, is trying to become just the sixth player under 6-feet to be drafted since 2000. Only three of those players — D.J. Augustin, Shane Larkin and Nate Robinson –played in the NBA this past season.

"Those guys are a huge inspiration for me," Carson said. "They give me motivation to wake up every day and compete. They paved the road for me. I appreciate everything they have done."

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