I wonder how many first-round
wannabes who end up as late second-round choices – or, gasp, not selected at all
– on June 28, will kick themselves, and/or their inner-circle of advisors, for
not accepting an invitation to play in the NBA Pre-Draft Camp in
I can understand passing on the
opportunity to play in front of 300 or so representatives of NBA teams for four
days if your name is LaMarcus Aldridge,
Tyrus Thomas, Brandon Roy, Marcus Williams, Randy Foye, Shelden Williams, Rudy Gay, Adam Morrison or J.J. Redick.
They’re locked and loaded as
lottery (top 14) selections on draft night, with only the approximate moment
they’re shaking hands with David
Stern still to be determined over the course of some “individual” workouts
and some head-scratching by NBA decision makers.
And if you’ve received a
“guarantee” by a general manager for his team’s spot in the first round and
you’ve got representation with the kind of juice who can make that promise
stick, I can understand why you might have gone ahead and said “thanks, but no
thanks” when the NBA came calling.
But if no one who has his paychecks
signed by any of the 30 NBA CEOs has told you in convincing terms that you’re
going to be tabbed in the first round – and your health is of the tip top
variety – what is to lose by demonstrating, in 5-on-5 conditions that the NBA
doesn’t permit its teams during “individual” workouts, to the gathered masses
that you’re first-round worthy?
There I go being logical again . .
BOUNCING AROUND THE
*The prevailing opinion of
NBA-employed decision makers (or decision shapers) on hand in Orlando is that
the two players who did the most to help their professional stock were UNLV
forward Louis Amundson and Rice
swingman Morris Almond.
The 6-foot-8 Amundson went into the
Pre-Draft Camp more as “a guy we might want to play on our summer team” than “a
guy we might want to draft in the second round” by NBA types.
After his high-energy, high-flying
performance over four days in Florida, Amundson seems firmly
planted in the latter category.
The 6-6 Almond led Conference
USA in scoring
(21.9 points per game) last season as a junior and had already generated a nice
buzz based on his performances in several workouts prior to arriving in
His ability to score with relative
ease (without “hunting” too many shots) over four days and his prototypical
shooting-guard dimensions impressed most everyone.
“I don’t think he’d be a
first-round pick (on June 28), so it would be best for him to go back to school
(for his senior season),” said a Director of Scouting for a franchise in the
“But he’s now a guy that everyone
will go out of their way to see a lot next season. He’ll be looked upon as a
possible first-round pick (in 2007).”
If he returns to Rice, Almond will
be rated a lot higher up on the list of the nation’s top shooting guards in all
of the preseason magazines than he would have if he hadn’t made the trek to
And, oh, yeah: The Owls (12-16)
would make a lot more impact on the Conference USA race with Almond still
around, as well.
*The Friday announcement that 6-11
Nick Fazekas would return to Nevada
for his senior season had been anticipated by NBA scouts for a couple of
He couldn’t land the first-round
“guarantee” that he and his family sought as a condition for keeping his name in
the draft pool.
His return keeps Mark Fox’s program in solid shape for
another Western Athletic Conference title and a fourth consecutive trip to the
NCAA Tournament next March.
*Not surprisingly, sophomores Jordan Farmar (UCLA) and Darius Washington
(Memphis) were the consensus choices
as the two best point guard prospects in
Farmar didn’t jump shoot nearly as
well as some had anticipated he would (they should have checked his .411,
overall, and .333, on 3’s, shooting percentages from last season beforehand) and
left town with his NBA stock about the same as it was before he left Southern
California: He’s a “fringe-first rounder”.
He isn’t expected to receive the
first-round assurances from a team that he said he would need, upon declaring
for the draft, in order to keep his name in the draft pool beyond the June 18
deadline to withdraw and return to college.
seemed to embrace more of a “true” point-guard’s role in
Orlando than he had demonstrated
through the high school traveling team and camp circuit, and in two seasons at
He was looked upon as a “fringe
second round-type” before last week but seemed to do enough to convince someone
to pick him in the second round. He is considered more likely than Farmar to
bypass his junior season.
Connecticut coaching staff and
players are going to have to spend a lot of the summer and fall just getting to
recognize one another.
With 6-8 forward Gavin Edwards
Ariz.) signing scholarship papers with the
program last week, the Huskies freshman class now numbers eight.
And, of course, there is expected
to be another “newcomer” on Coach Jim
Calhoun’s roster in the person of guard A.J. Price, sidelined for health
reasons as a freshman and for disciplinary issues last season.
The hunch here is that Calhoun’s
next team will exceed expectations to the same degree that his most recent one
failed to perform as well as it had been anticipated to do.
Inducted into the USBWA Hall of
Fame in April, 2005, Frank Burlison is Scout.com’s national basketball expert and is
also a columnist for the Long Beach (Calif.) Press-Telegram. He can be reached at
email@example.com. Read more of Burlison’s pieces at