Where departing Arizona Wildcats guard Mark Lyons sees opportunity this weekend in Virginia, ex-teammate Solomon Hill does not.
Lyons will play in the four-day seniors-only Portsmouth Invitational Tournament, a seniors-only predraft event that begins today, but Hill opted out after he was originally listed as a competitor.
A UA spokesman said Hill was nursing an ankle injury after the Wildcats' loss to Ohio State in the NCAA tournament but that he had also been advised not to play in Portsmouth. (It is not known yet if Hill has selected an agent.)
Hill is projected as a second-round NBA pick and would have been the top-rated participant in Portsmouth, according to Draft Express rankings. While many higher-rated players shy away from predraft camps, the NBA's Ryan Blake criticized the decision, saying Hill's skills would be best showcased in a game.
"If I'm an NBA guy, I'm thinking, 'What is he hiding? Is he scared? Why doesn't he want to compete?'" said Blake, the NBA's senior director of scouting operations. "His best opportunity to show his type of versatility would be in a five-on-five situation, and now he doesn't have the opportunity.
"It's an incredibly stupid move in my opinion. I don't see him getting that opportunity in an individual workout."
Blake also said there's no longer reason for forwards and centers to worry about getting on a team with a guard who dominates the ball.
"We make sure the bigs are getting their touches," Blake said. "When I meet with these players, I tell them, 'It's your job to win. If you're hogging the ball, I will personally go ask your coach to pull you.' We want players who can defend, can set screens, and take the opportunity to be in a five-on-five opportunity and win."
It's still possible that Hill will be invited to the NBA's predraft combine next month, but that event features only small group drills and measurements. After that, players typically have individual team workouts with several other prospects. Hill could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.
Lyons, meanwhile, can help himself in the eyes of both NBA and foreign scouts this week. He's not a projected draft pick, but Blake said he's coming off a good season and has a chance to prove himself in Portsmouth.
"Look at our league now - we have small-ball, with two small points or two combo (guards) at a time," Blake said. "Here's a guy who can go in and score. He wants to do anything he can. You don't have to be the best athlete in the world."
The UA's other departing senior, Kevin Parrom, was not among the 64 players invited to Portsmouth, though Blake said he was on the list of alternates.
Parrom is not expected to return to Arizona next season, despite initial indications the school would apply for a hardship waiver.
Other Pac-12 players in Portsmouth include Washington's Abdul Gaddy and Aziz N'Diaye, Oregon's E.J. Singler and Tony Woods, and UCLA's Larry Drew II.
Pac-12 launches probe
The Pac-12 announced Tuesday it will have an independent investigation of "all of the officiating and coaching events" during and after the Pac-12 tournament, after officials coordinator Ed Rush resigned last week in the wake of comments he made toward UA's Sean Miller and other coaches at the tournament.
"After considering the matter, commissioner Scott and I agree that an independent review is important to maintain the confidence of our members, and of the public, in the integrity of our competition," said Oregon State president Edward Ray, the chairman of the Pac-12 group. "While the review will focus primarily on the tournament, we expect that it will inform a broader examination of our men's basketball officiating and help us provide the best possible program."
Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott said nothing was more important than "maintaining confidence in our integrity."
"Given the conflicting media reports, it is important that we do whatever we can to understand all the facts," Scott said, "not only to resolve the questions about officiating during the tournament but also to learn lessons that will help us make changes and improvements to our overall program."
The review will be conducted by officials outside the Pac-12, the league said, and is expected to be completed in time for the presidents' June meeting.
Bland mulls USC offer
A possible target for the UA assistant coach vacancy, San Diego State's Tony Bland, was offered a $250,000 package to join the USC staff, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.
UA is likely to pay about $200,000, since James Whitford was the highest-paid assistant at $210,000 before he left to become Ball State's head coach last weekend.
Among the other potential replacements for Whitford is Memphis assistant Damon Stoudamire, who was a candidate to replace Archie Miller two years ago.
Arizona is faring well in annual post-Final Four predictions for next season.
ESPN ranked the Wildcats fourth for 2013-14 behind Kentucky, Louisville and Michigan State. USA Today has Arizona at No. 7, behind Kentucky, Duke, North Carolina, Louisville, Michigan State and Florida.
On StarNet: Follow the Cats through the offseason on Bruce Pascoe's blog at: azstarnet.com/pascoe
Contact Bruce Pascoe at firstname.lastname@example.org or 573-4145. On Twitter @BrucePascoe