View Full Version : Underclassmen returning
06-13-2001, 09:20 AM
I hope more of the people who entered their name in the draft follow suit. Wildcats point guard decides to return to school
June 12, 2001
TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) -- Jason Gardner became Arizona's only returning starter Tuesday when he withdrew his name from the NBA draft.
The junior was one of four underclassmen from the team that reached the 2001 NCAA championship game to declare for the draft in April. The others -- Richard Jefferson, Michael Wright and Gilbert Arenas -- all stood out at the NBA predraft camp last week in Chicago.
The 5-foot-10 Gardner needs to hit from the perimeter to be a threat in the pros. But he was 2-of-15 from 3-point range and 6-for-27 overall from the field in four games at the camp, and was advised to return to school.
``It is still a dream of mine to play in the NBA,'' said Gardner, who kept his options open by not hiring an agent. ``I enjoyed the predraft experience and learned a great deal from it. I'm looking forward to the 2001-2002 season.''
He will be coach Lute Olson's most experienced veteran as well as the team's floor leader this winter.
Along with the defections of Jefferson, Wright and Arenas, the Wildcats also lost senior center Loren Woods.
Olson was in Europe and unavailable for comment, but associate head coach Jim Rosborough said Gardner will provide important continuity for the other five returning lettermen.
``Had he gotten an agent, that would have been quite a negative,'' Rosborough said. ``We took the stance that he had to explore his options, and we're very, very glad he's back. He is a very good player, tough and quick. He'll be great leader for us.''
Gardner averaged 10.9 points and a team-high 4.1 assists last season -- slightly below his 11.7 and 4.4 averages as a freshman.
He scored in double figures in 20 games as a sophomore, and bumped up his scoring to 12.5 points a game in the six NCAA tournament games. Gardner had a combined 28 points, six rebounds and six assists against Mississippi and Illinois in the Midwest Regional and was chosen to the regional's all-tournament team.
Rosborough said Gardner's camp experience and lack of height would not affect his chances to go high in future drafts. He cited the experience of former Arizona stars Damon Stoudamire and Jason Terry.
``I don't think there's been a guy here who hasn't been better as a junior and senior,'' Rosborough said. ``No. 1, they have so much more confidence playing college ball. And, guys like Terry and Damon -- we opened things up for those guys.
``Jason has done everything we asked. He has sacrificed. I know this: He will shoot 45 percent from the 3 next year, and he's going to be one of the best players in the country.''
06-13-2001, 10:21 AM
good call thekid
i honestly think that the trend of underclassmen and guys leaving high school for the pros will peak soon. the nba simply can't absorb that much raw talent. the guys leaving for the pros early (with exceptions to the obvious future superstars, like kobe, etc) will start to drop and slide further and further in the draft because each team will already have a couple of projects and they'll have to draft a guy that has developed talent.
hopefully, this will happen sooner than later, but it must happen sometime
06-17-2001, 09:39 PM
I agree with you Murph (believe it or not). I don't think that 29 out of 30 of these highschoolers and underclassmen will be able to help their NBA teams in the next 3-4 years.
The only way the NBA can absorb the number of underclassmen that are coming out is if the new league works out. But individual teams cannot "own" the rights to any player playing in that league, so the most talented players will still be stashed on NBA rosters.
06-20-2001, 06:14 PM
Pre-season camp must be pretty tough...the underclassmen are droping like flys!
I heard it was a hard camp. I guess the reality is setting in and those guys are scurrying back to campus where they will be treated like returning royalty.
Lots of kids going back to school (http://espn.go.com/nba/draft2001/s/2001/0620/1216552.html)
06-20-2001, 10:23 PM
Crap MFFL...my computer is too slow to keep loading new pages. Could you possibly cut and past the articles instead of making 200 links?
LOL - sorry flying tiger. I'm so used to my cable modem that I forget what it's like without one. I'll do more cut and pasting.
06-20-2001, 10:39 PM
Just brag about it why don't you!? JK I'm just lazy...don't inconvenience yourself on my bahalf.
Another link free article for Flying Tiger! i/expressions/face-icon-small-smile.gif
Friday, June 22
Potential stars make draft unprecedented
By Frank Hughes
Special to ESPN.com
We are entering the most uncertain, unpredictable and, in a way, unprecedented draft in NBA history.
It took some time before Seattle's Rashard Lewis became a noteworthy player.
When league commissioner David Stern approaches the podium Wednesday night, not only does nobody know whose name he is going to call for the top pick, but nobody seems to know who he is going to shout out in the seven picks thereafter.
Oh sure, there is a general idea of who the top eight players will be -- Shane Battier, Eddie Griffin, Rodney White, Eddy Curry, Tyson Chandler, Kwame Brown, Jason Richardson and DeSagana Diop -- but what order they go in is anybody's guess.
The primary reason for this is because there are an unprecedented four high school seniors in that bunch, and nobody seems to know which 18-year-old will be the next Kevin Garnett or Kobe Bryant.
Former Seattle SuperSonics coach Paul Westphal used to tell the story of how Dan Majerle ripped through the Portsmouth camp, then was clearly one of the best players in the Phoenix camp, and very likely could have been one of the top picks in the draft.
But because of public perception, teams decided against taking a 6-6 white guy from Central Michigan, opting to select instead players like Charles Smith, Chris Morris, Tim Perry, Rex Chapman, Willie Anderson, Will Perdue, Harvey Grant and Jeff Grayer, before Phoenix took the ultra-productive Majerle with the 14th pick. To those other teams, we say, "Whoops."
Certainly, that story does not lend itself quite as much these days, in part because Garnett and Bryant have made it less of public relations gamble to take a player jumping straight from high school to the NBA.
But it still certainly is an organizational gamble -- because you also could wind up with the next Leon Smith, rather than KG or Kobe.
Still, teams apparently are willing to take the gamble on the potential of the four high schoolers -- Brown, Curry, Chandler and Diop -- rather than the safe pick of Battier, the only four-year college guy in the group, because, as Sonics CEO Wally Walker said, "I think every player is different, but a team wants to try to draft a potential star."
Left unsaid in that statement is the insinuation that Battier is the player he is, meaning he does not have a great deal more growth left. He is a safe pick, to be sure, and might be a nice addition to a team that already is established, but he is not going to be the home run player that eventually might take a team to a title run.
Walker knows a thing about potential stars, because he drafted Rashard Lewis, the high school kid from Houston who now has become the focal point of the Seattle organization.
Lewis' story is somewhat different, because he was not selected until the second round -- even though the Houston Rockets told him they were going to take him 16th, and chose Bryce Drew instead. To the Rockets, we say, "Whoops."
In reality, Lewis fell into the Sonics' lap. He was sitting there at 32, they had an additional second-round pick, so they figured, "What the hell?"
It turned out nicely for them, because now they are talking about trading Gary Payton, Vin Baker and Ruben Patterson, and getting younger players to put around Lewis, a budding star.
But there certainly are considerations, whether you have a top-five pick and are going to take one of this season's crop of youngsters, or you happen to have Lewis fall into your lap.
For instance, do you have the veterans on your team to help the kid along? Do you have to form some sort of infrastructure to support a kid who three months ago was going to his prom? Do you need to convince his parents to move to the town for a year, while he gets acclimated?
The Sonics were fortunate, because Lewis has a great family and a great outlook, and he has become a model citizen. In a few seasons, people will talk about Garnett, Kobe and Lewis in the same breath.
But the Utah Jazz were not so lucky, and now they have to deal with the embarrassing extracurricular activities of DeShawn Stevenson, who allegedly had sex with a 14-year-old girl in Fresno and is charged with statutory rape. Another consideration is where, exactly, an organization is.
"A lot depends on where you are in the stage of your franchise," Walker said. "Because Rashard, we figured he was going to be a three- or four-year project."
So for fans of the Washington Wizards, if they take Kwame Brown with the first pick -- assuming the Wizards keep the first pick -- don't expect Brown to come right in and be able to contribute.
Maybe that is the perfect pick, if Michael Jordan comes back, and Charles Barkley and Patrick Ewing come aboard. No pressure on Brown. He can learn from some quality veterans -- though I don't know exactly how much learning you want a high school kid to get from Barkley. He can develop, playing against the best every day, players who know every trick there is. The other end of that is a team that is already established can take a flyer on a high school kid because they have time to develop him.
Clearly, that is what the Jazz were thinking. They didn't need a lot of additional help right away, they had a set rotation. So they could let John Stockton and Karl Malone still play most of the minutes, and let Stevenson develop under two of the most professional guys, learning how to become a pro. Unfortunately, it has not worked out, and that is why it always is a gamble to take one of these guys.
Which is why this draft is so uncertain. Brown and Chandler seem to have the most upside, given they both are true centers, have good size, have room to grow and seem skilled. Curry could be the player who one day could contend with Shaquille O'Neal, given his 285 pounds. But he also could be the player to turn into the next Shawn Kemp, because several people say he is more like 310 pounds -- and it's not all muscle.
Diop (pronounced JOP) may have the most upside, but he may have the most downside. A native of Senegal, he has played only two years of organized basketball in the United States, and he sustained a foot injury last season -- the reason that he is the most likely to drop out of the top eight.
"This is the most confusing draft that I can recall," Walker said. "I've talked with a lot of other general managers, and they have all said the same thing."
06-23-2001, 12:34 AM
I think you should always peronally address me like that before every long post...just a suggestion.
06-23-2001, 12:36 AM
It does wonders for my self-esteem.
Another NBA draft article: posted link-free for Flying Tiger!
2001 NBA Draft preview
If not quite an extinct species, they're certainly a dying breed.
We're speaking, naturally, of players who stay in school for four full seasons of college basketball.
Don't expect to see many of these rare creatures selected Wednesday in the first round of the NBA Draft. Only 11 seniors were taken in Round 1 last June, and that all-time low will be easily bettered (worsened?) by this June's thin senior crop.
Only five seniors are considered a first-round locks, and only one of them – Duke's Shane Battier – is regarded as a certain lottery pick. SMU's Jeryl Sasser, featured Friday in our look at players with Texas ties, heads the group of bubble seniors hoping to sneak into Round 1.
Ahead of Sasser: North Carolina center Brendan Haywood, Arizona center Loren Woods, Iowa State point guard Jamaal Tinsley and Southern California guard Jeff Trepagnier. But that's probably it.
The big names from the class of 2001 have long since matriculated to the NBA. Would-be seniors who leapt early to the big time include Larry Hughes in 1998, 1999's Elton Brand, Baron Davis and Lamar Odom and 2000's Chris Mihm.
THE FIVE BEST
1. Shane Battier, Duke
Ht: 6-8; Wt: 220; Pos.: Small forward; Draft range: 1-10
Solid is the word most often applied to Battier, the reigning College Player of the Year. On a good team, he'd make a fine draft-day addition. For a rebuilding club, the kind Battier figures to land with, he really isn't the franchise player you need. Of course, you don't look to the draft to find franchise players any more, and Battier – for all his lack of upside – is ready to play now. Hence Atlanta's interest at No. 3.
2. Brendan Haywood, North Carolina
Ht: 7-0; Wt: 264; Pos.: Center; Draft range: 10-20
Everybody's looking for centers, and Haywood's size is hard to miss. He measures at a legit 6-11¾ ... barefoot. Strength isn't a problem, either, but Haywood doesn't have much of a back-to-basket game and lacks coordination. He hasn't been a huge rebounding presence, either, which is why the high school big men – Kwame Brown, Eddy Curry, Tyson Chandler and DeSagana Diop – are all rated higher.
3. Loren Woods, Arizona
Ht: 7-1; Wt: 244; Pos.: Center; Draft range: 15-25
Like we said, everybody's looking for centers. So it figures that someone in the top 20, maybe as high as Orlando at No. 14, will overlook Woods' history of back trouble to take one of the draft's older players (23 as of Thursday). Woods underwent two back surgeries in April 2000 and is also burdened by the dreaded "soft" label. Shot-blocking is a strength; scoring and rebounding are not.
4. Jamaal Tinsley, Iowa State
Ht: 6-3; Wt: 195; Pos.: Point guard; Draft range: 15-25
Tinsley could be impacted somewhat by the Michael Finley factor – namely, a so-so senior season. Finley slipped to No. 24 in the 1995 draft after a sub-par senior campaign at Wisconsin. Tinsley, similarly, barely shot 40 percent from the floor (.399) for the Cyclones. As the draft nears, Tinsley's stock appears to be falling. But he remains the most seasoned point guard available, offsetting average quickness with a quick brain.
5. Jeff Trepagnier, Southern California
Ht: 6-4; Wt: 195; Pos.: Shooting guard; Draft range: 20-30
When you're looking for the best athlete in the draft, Trepagnier's name has to be in the conversation. He's a big-time leaper who jumped into the first-round fray with an MVP performance at the Desert Classic pre-draft camp in Phoenix. Trepagnier, though, will have to improve his shooting and ball-handling to compete as an NBA shooting guard. He's more of a defensive prospect.
OTHERS TO WATCH
Player School Ht. Wt. Pos.
Trenton Hassell Austin Peay 6-5 200 SG
COMMENT: Like SMU's Jeryl Sasser, outside shot at first round
Brian Scalabrine Southern California 6-9 250 PF
COMMENT: He'll get a chance with zones coming
Alvin Jones Georgia Tech 6-11 265 C
COMMENT: Everyone's looking for centers, remember
Sunday, June 24, 2001
A Rough Draft, Any Way You Look at It
By MARK HEISLER
Question: What's the difference between Wednesday's NBA draft and a summer camp for high school stars?
Answer: I give up, what?
The differences are dwindling, with three preps expected to go in the top five along with two freshmen--which would make a total of two years in college among them--and no one sure which of them is best.
None of them is "ready," but these days "willing" is more relevant, assuming they're big and athletic enough.
Take Dominguez High's willowy Tyson Chandler, measured at 6 feet 11 1/2, 224 pounds at the Chicago pre-draft camp. Michael Cooper, who saw him frequently last winter while doing color commentary for Fox, suggested he wasn't close to being ready . . . but Tyson is expected to go in the top five.
With the Eastern Conference playing largely without centers, teams are even more desperate for big men, however tender. Besides, after years of top prospects leaving college early, what else is left?
Everyone likes Duke's Shane Battier, who could be the only college senior in the lottery, but everyone knows he's no franchise player.
As a general manager said last week, this is "the opportunity of a lifetime" to snare a next-generation big man . . . or to make a total fool of yourself.
"The younger the player, the bigger the guess," says San Antonio Spur personnel director Sam Schuler. "If you can watch a kid through four years of college, you can pretty accurately predict how he will do in the NBA. On the other hand, there is a fear of the unknown. What if the 18- or 19-year-old turns out to be really good?"
With teams additionally anxious to avoid the luxury tax, rebuild and/or trade up, shopping players such as Gary Payton and Stephon Marbury, things are more fluid than ever.
I'll call this my mock, mock draft. Most of the ranges should be close, anyway, I hope.
1. Washington--Everything depends on Michael Jordan's decision on returning . . . with insiders now guessing he will. As president, Jordan wants to trade but wants a star like the New Jersey Nets' Marbury, the Chicago Bulls' Elton Brand or the Seattle SuperSonics' Rashard Lewis. It looks as though Jordan will keep the pick and take 6-11 Kwame Brown, a prep from Georgia, a do-everything forward like Milwaukee's Tim Thomas, but even bigger.
2. Clippers--Going big in case Mike Olowokandi isn't the answer: 6-10 1/2, 301-pound Eddy Curry, a prep from suburban Chicago. Once an aspiring gymnast, he's light on his feet with great hands. Questions are toughness and inclination to dominate. On the other hand, how does a team that faces Shaquille O'Neal four times a season stay off this junior version?
3. Atlanta--Rodney White, North Carolina Charlotte. Fast-rising powerhouse of a small forward who goes 6-7, 240 and is skilled enough to play in the backcourt.
4. Chicago--Eddie Griffin, Seton Hall. General Manager Jerry Krause has vowed to go big but can't pass up Griffin, a 6-9 small forward with better skills, if not all the athleticism, of prep classmate Darius Miles.
5. Golden State--Chandler. He may start as a small forward, but he's a fine athlete, worked out well everywhere he went and has a mountain of potential.
6. "Vancouver"--Memphis-bound team President Dick Versace is challenged enough in the best of circumstances. He wants to deal Mike Bibby and Mike Dickerson, who don't get along with Shareef Abdur-Rahim, in an economy/harmony drive. What he really wants is to avoid taking a pratfall in front of his new fans and makes the safe pick: Battier.
7. New Jersey--Trying to dump Keith Van Horn, shopping Marbury, starting yet another rebuilding cycle. The Nets take Michigan State's Jason Richardson, who has a major upside if he learns to shoot.
8. Cleveland--Hoping to get Zydrunas Ilgauskas back, no longer inclined to rebuild for the distant future, the Cavaliers take a 6-8 shooting guard, Arkansas' talented Joe Johnson.
9. Detroit--Vladimir Radmanovic. He was an unknown 6-10 Yugoslav until he worked out at Chicago. Now people say he might even be better than Peja Stojakovic.
10. Boston--Multiple picks (10, 11, 21) mean the Celtics can gamble in a gambler's draft. General Manager Chris Wallace, a noted talent spotter, finally free from the Curse of Rick Pitino, takes a flier at getting the big man they need: 6-10, 315-pound DeSagana Diop (pronounced suh-GAH-nuh jop), a native of Senegal who finished high school in the United States.
11. Boston--Talking up Troy Murphy's Irish roots but more likely to go for Flier II, 6-8 Kedrick Brown, a junior college player from Florida who didn't work out for anyone.
12. Seattle--SuperSonics are rebuilding under Starbucks magnate Howard Schultz, who'll learn how much tougher this is than hawking designer coffee. They are trying to dump Vin Baker, shopping Payton, won't re-sign old Patrick Ewing, need a center but don't like their choices. So they take Spain's 7-0 Pao Gasol, who isn't a center but is supposed to be the next coming of Dirk Nowitzki.
13. Houston--Plan A is free agent Chris Webber. With Hakeem Olajuwon leaving and Kelvin Cato in their doghouse, the Rockets need someone big too: Brendan Haywood , a 7-footer from North Carolina who has it all but hasn't done much with it.
14. Golden State--With their second pick, Warriors go big again: Murphy, the 6-10 power forward from Notre Dame.
15. Orlando--Plan A is clearing salary-cap room for free agent Antonio Davis. Plan B is trading up--Magic is offering rookie-of-the-year Mike Miller--for a young, big guy. If these players are still available, Orlando will take a longshot: Stephen Hunter, a 6-11 twig from DePaul, who went on a weight program after he left and bulked all the way up (?) to 224.
16. Charlotte--The Hornets are eager to find a sucker, er, taker for Derrick Coleman, who is under contract for two more seasons at $18 million. They're also open to upgrading their center position now occupied by Elden Campbell. They go big: Arizona's Loren Woods.
17. Toronto--With Davis on his way out, Raptors go big with Michigan State's Zach Randolph, a young wide-body, hoping he's not a young Tractor Traylor.
18. Houston--More help for the frontline: Stanford's 6-10 Jason Collins.
19. Portland--General Manager Bob Whitsitt wants to find a coach, a taker for unhappy Dale Davis, get 50 pounds off Shawn Kemp and too many more things to list here. In the meantime, he'll take Arizona's athletic Richard Jefferson.
20. Cleveland--Villanova's 6-9 Michael Bradley, another skilled, but not dominating, big forward.
21. Boston--Kenny Anderson is on his way out, or would be if the Celtics could find someone to take the last two seasons, worth $17.5 million, on his contract. They take Jamaal Tinsley of Iowa State, who is sort of a young Mark Jackson.
22. Orlando--Omar Cook, a young point guard from St. John's with possibilities, although shooting isn't currently one of them. Coach Doc Rivers didn't think much of Troy Hudson, last season's backup.
23. Houston--Kirk Haston, Indiana, a 6-10 forward who can shoot, as Rockets finish rebuilding their frontline.
24. Utah--With DeShawn Stevenson's availability in question, Jazz needs another young guard: Joseph Forte, a small (6-3 1/2, 185) but hard-nosed North Carolina shooting guard.
25. Sacramento--With no blue-chip big men left, Kings take Arizona's Gilbert Arenas, a short (6-3 1/2) but talented shooting guard.
26. Philadelphia--Larry Brown, who loves talent, takes Alabama's Gerald Wallace, who may be the best athlete in the draft, handles the ball well, but, as a shooter, can't hit the ocean from a boat.
27. "Vancouver"--With Bibby ticketed to ride sooner or later, Grizzlies need a young guard to groom: Jeff Trepagnier, USC, an athlete who showed pros he has enough game in the pre-draft Desert Classic.
28. San Antonio--Brian Scalabrine, USC. With defenses double-teaming Tim Duncan, Spurs are always looking for shooters.
Note: The first round has only 28 picks, reflecting Minnesota's penalty from the league for its secret deal with Joe Smith, and the Lakers have no picks.
Copyright 2001 Los Angeles Times
06-24-2001, 01:11 PM
Oh...now I get the plffft!
2001 NBA Draft preview
By Marc Stein / The Dallas Morning News
Lined up against the lanky high school stars dominating pre-draft headlines, these guys rank as grizzled veterans.
Two college freshmen.
Seton Hall's Eddie Griffin. Charlotte's Rodney White. They're the only two players, each with one whopping season of NCAA experience, given much chance of preventing Kwame Brown, Tyson Chandler or Eddy Curry from becoming the first high schooler in league history to be selected No. 1 overall.
The challenge is putting those five * along with Duke senior Shane Battier * in any sort of dependable mock order. One season of college ball doesn't exactly give scouts reams more insight into Griffin and Brown, forcing teams to try to project which of the aforementioned youngsters will develop quickest.
"With all of these guys in the top six," said the Mavericks' Donnie Nelson, "it's going to be two or three years before they can help you."
Of course, NBA executives have historically been more intrigued by the unknown that the known when it comes to the draft. Which explains why twice as many college underclassmen, compared to seniors, will be selected in Wednesday's first round. The younger they are, teams figure, the more time to be pleasantly surprised.
THE FIVE BEST
1. Eddie Griffin, Seton Hall, Fr.
Ht: 6-9; Wt: 205; Pos.: Small forward; Draft range: 1-5
In college, Griffin blocked a lot of shots (4.5 per game) and grabbed a lot of rebounds (10.8). In the pros he'll be a slender small forward who one scout likens to "a smaller version of Derrick McKey." It'll be tough for teams at the top of the draft to ignore his athleticism and affinity for defense – replete with a 7-3 wingspan – but concerns about Griffin's attitude still linger.
2. Rodney White, Charlotte, Fr.
Ht: 6-9; Wt: 230; Pos.: Power forward; Draft range: 1-10
Jerry West and Michael Jordan have openly touted him as a future star, so it's little wonder White has climbed into contention for a top-five pick. Whispers persist that Washington's Jordan will either take White at No. 1 or trade down to land the versatile inside-outside prospect. If there's a concern, it's inconsistency. Example: White attended five different high schools.
3. Jason Richardson, Michigan State, So.
Ht: 6-6; Wt: 220; Pos.: Shooting guard; Draft range: 5-10
If he didn't play the league's most readily filled position, Richardson would probably be a candidate to go higher. He possesses one of the more NBA-ready games on offer, but is also more athletic swingman than perimeter threat. "He's a better shooter than he's shown," said one Western Conference scout. New Jersey, the likely destination for Richardson, hopes that scout is right.
4. Joe Johnson, Arkansas, So.
Ht: 6-8; Wt: 225; Pos.: Shooting guard/small forward; Draft range: 5-10
Johnson, unlike Richardson, is a shooting guard actually known for his shooting. Combine that with Johnson's size and you have a pretty attractive swingman prospect. Cleveland and Detroit, at Nos. 8 and 9, are both interested parties, even though Johnson's second college season wasn't as good as his first. He has to get stronger, too.
5. Troy Murphy, Notre Dame, Jr.
Ht: 6-11; Wt: 245; Pos.: Power forward; Draft range: 10-15
Word is spreading on the draft grapevine that Murphy isn't as slow-footed as originally feared. He has also worked hard over the past three months to shed some excess weight. Factor in Murphy's relative wealth of experience and inside-out scoring abilities and you'll understand why he suddenly isn't expected to last past Houston at No. 13.
OTHERS TO WATCH
Player School Ht. Wt. Pos. Cl.
Kedrick Brown Okaloosa-Walton CC (Fla.) 6-7 225 SF Jr.
COMMENT: Tough to leap from community college
Zach Randolph Michigan State 6-9 270 C Fr.
COMMENT: Center skills, but forward height
Richard Jefferson Arizona 6-7 222 SF Jr.
COMMENT: Draft rival is UNC's Joseph Forte
Michael Bradley Villanova 6-10 245 PF Jr.
COMMENT: If you prefer solid over spectacular
Omar Cook St. John's 6-1 190 PG Fr.
COMMENT: If you don't mind QB who can't shoot
2001 NBA Draft preview
Preps to pros
By Marc Stein
The Dallas Morning News
A high school star has never been the No. 1 overall pick in the NBA Draft.
Better tell your friends now, because that trivia tidbit could well be obsolete by Wednesday night.
There are a record six high school entrants in the 2001 draft class, and three of them have a shot to go higher than Darius Miles – the No. 3 selection by the Los Angeles Clippers last June. Kwame Brown, Tyson Chandler and Eddy Curry should at worst be snapped up within the first five picks in what Golden State general manager Garry St. Jean calls "the youngest draft ever."
There have been a string of preps-to-pros leapers since Kevin Garnett in 1995, but never one crop of high schoolers so deep ... and so bulked-up. Garnett, even at 7-0, remains rail-thin. Kobe Bryant and Tracy McGrady, both mid-sized swingmen, are the other poster children for players who bypass college.
But Brown, Chandler, Curry and DeSagana Diop – the fourth high school candidate for this year's top 10 – are the biggest young guys ever. Chandler is 7-1, Brown is a solid 6-11, and the other two weigh 300 pounds each. That sort of size, seasoned or not, isn't available every day.
THE FIVE BEST
1. Kwame Brown, Glynn Academy (Ga.)
Ht.: 6-11; Wt.: 235; Pos.: Power forward; Draft range: 1-5
If Michael Jordan keeps the No. 1 pick in Washington, Brown is the emerging favorite to fill that slot. Although constantly compared to Minnesota's Garnett, Brown already carries more weight than KG – giving the team that lands Brown hope that he'll blossom into a full-fledged power forward. For the moment, he's more of a face-up player than back-to-basket. Scouts love Brown's shooting skills and overall fundamentals.
2. Tyson Chandler, Dominguez HS (Calif.)
Ht.: 7-1; Wt.: 225; Pos.: Forward; Draft range: 1-5
Chandler, to be fair, has just as many admirers as Brown – maybe more. Treated by the national media as an NBA prospect since his junior high days, when he was profiled on 60 Minutes as an eighth-grader, Chandler is another contender for the No. 1 overall pick. Teams worry that his slender build and intermittent intensity will prevent him from realizing his low-post potential. But Chandler runs the floor as well as anyone his size.
3. Eddy Curry, Thornwood HS (Ill.)
Ht.: 6-11; Wt.: 300; Pos.: Center; Draft range: 1-10
Curry comes with size concerns of his own. Call him the anti-Chandler. Known as "Baby Shaq," Curry has already sparked considerable debate about how much baby fat he'll have to shed to be effective in the pros. He's a former gymnast who's actually pretty nimble, but there have already been comparisons between Curry and a former LSU center not named Shaq: Stanley Roberts. As a freshman, Curry was already carrying 250 pounds on a 6-9 frame.
4. DeSagana Diop, Oak Hill Academy (Va.)
Ht.: 7-0; Wt.: 300; Pos.: Center; Draft range: 5-15
Diop, pronounced "Jop," was helped onto these shores by the Mavericks' own Amadou Fall, who ranks as one of Senegal's first basketball exports. Yet unlike his slender countrymen – scouting director Fall and Toronto's Mamadou N'Diaye – Diop has an NBA's center body and some pretty solid skills for someone who has played the sport only a few years. A recent stress fracture has some teams concerned.
5. Ousmane Cisse; St. Jude HS (Ala.)
Ht.: 6-8; Wt.: 240; Pos.: Power forward; Draft range: Second round
Cisse, a native of Mali, is difficult to rate for a variety of factors. He rang up huge numbers in high school – averaging 29 points, 16 rebounds and a whopping 12 blocks per game as a senior – but played against lower-division competition in Alabama. Of greater concern: Cisse reportedly suffered a serious knee injury in January that wasn't initially revealed to NBA teams.
OTHERS TO WATCH
Player School Ht. Wt. Pos.
Tony Key Compton HS (Calif.) 6-11 275 C
COMMENT: Six teams were fined for watching him work out, but he still figures to join Taj McDavid (1996) and Ellis Richardson (1998) as undrafted high schoolers
A GREAT article. plffft!
Monday, June 25
When NBA high schoolers became the norm
By David Aldridge
Special to ESPN.com
There are six high school players in Wednesday's NBA draft.
This used to drive me crazy.
Kobe's successful career sans college has helped make skipping school attractive.
I know it's harder for the casual fan to have any kind of feel for what his or her team is getting in the first round now. It's harder on everybody. It's hard on the scouts and birddogs who have to project these kids out three, four years. Harder on the coaches who have to coach them. Harder for the teammates that have to play with them. Harder for the kids themselves. For those who would say hockey and baseball also draft teenagers, I'd say there's one huge difference: the vast majority of those teenagers don't start in the major leagues, and even if they do, and subsequently fail, they go back to the minors, where they can work on their games again. The NBA is a one-shot deal -- sink or swim.
But this is where we are, and we need to deal with it. It isn't going to end pro sports as we know it.
I used to believe that a few high school kids coming out would lead to a flood of them coming out. And I thought that would be horrible, especially since all of the kids who have gone straight from high school to the NBA have been African-American. It throttled my middle-class heart to know that kids who had a chance to attend college wouldn't. And I didn't want to hear about tennis players, whose horrifying behavior on and off the court, I thought, proved my point.
But the results don't lie. The majority of kids who's opted out of high school have been good to great players, and good to great citizens.
It's hard to remember that this high school exodus is a relatively new trend.
"I was with Penny Hardaway," Grant Hill recalled recently, "and we were talking about just when we were going to high school and all the camps and the summer leagues. And we didn't even think about the NBA. It wasn't even ... it was about college. 'Where you wanna go to school? I wanna go here, I wanna go there, we wanna play for the NCAA championship.' And this was just 10 years ago. And now, if we were college juniors or seniors, it would be like 'what (pro) team you want to go to?'...
"It's really changed. And it's amazing that these kids are that good and have that kind of confidence. I was a little worried about going to Duke. I called up Coach K about two weeks before school started my freshman year, and I was like, 'I think I'm going to transfer to George Mason. I don't know if I'm good enough.'"
The genie is out of the bottle. Once Kevin Garnett jumped into the 1995 draft, and not only survived, but thrived, it was just a matter of time before others joined him. The next year, Kobe Bryant left Lower Merion High near Philly, and what happened to him was even more important than Garnett's success in Minnesota. Not only was Bryant drafted in the first round, but his agent, Arn Tellem, was able to intimidate the Nets, who salivated over the prodigy and had the eighth pick overall, into not taking him and drafting Kerry Kittles instead.
So Bryant didn't cut his teeth playing for the lowly Nets, where he probably would have averaged more points but won far fewer games. Instead, Tellem and his good buddy Jerry West were able to concoct a trade between the Lakers and Hornets, who wound up selecting Bryant for Los Angeles with the 13th pick overall and dealing him for Vlade Divac.
Every high schooler with some game got the message: I can play in the NBA, and I don't have to play for a team that sucks. Which may explain in part why Tellem has gotten just about every one of the high schoolers. That, and having Sonny Vaccaro's cell phone number.
But I digress. Let's look at the numbers. There are around 100,000 kids that play high school basketball every year. Since 1995, including this year's group, 19 high school players have opted not to go to college and enter the NBA draft. That's 19 out of a possible 700,000 or so players, a microscopic amount. “ It's really changed. And it's amazing that these kids are that good and have that kind of confidence. I was a little worried about going to Duke. I called up Coach K about two weeks before school started my freshman year, and I was like, 'I think I'm going to transfer to George Mason. I don't know if I'm good enough.' ”
— Grant Hill
Let's look at the 19. Not including this year's six high school players, 13 were eligible to be drafted between 1995 and 2000. Eleven of the 13 were drafted. Two, Garnett and Bryant, are bona fide superstars, and a third, Tracy McGrady, is right on their heels. Three others are in the midst of solid careers: Jermaine O'Neal, Rashard Lewis and Al Harrington. Another three are just really getting started: Darius Miles, Jonathan Bender and DeShawn Stevenson. Two were drafted but were gone within a year -- Leon Smith and Korleone Young -- and two were complete, undrafted flameouts: Taj McDavid and Ellis Richardson.
Nine out of 13? A pretty healthy percentage.
And of this year's six, five are almost certain to be first-round picks. Only one is really reaching. That would make 14 out of 19 who will be in the league for at least a few years.
Granted, those 19 weren't taken at random, but were 19 out of the top 50 or so over that seven-draft period. And that does impact the league, directly and indirectly. Directly, because even Garnett and Bryant had a break-in period before their games began to shine at their current wattage. Indirectly, because those players (and their cousins that leave college ball after a year or so) never make the mark on college ball that equally talented players of previous eras did.
And I think it's important for the college game to be healthy. Imagine the difference, for example, if Larry Bird and Magic Johnson had opted to leave their respective universities after a year, or hadn't gone to college at all. Johnson wouldn't have won the national championship the following season. Bird would have never gotten to the championship game. As it was, most people knew precious little about Bird after he played three seasons for Indiana State, and what they knew came from watching him play Johnson's Michigan State team in the '79 NCAA title game.
But their teams had great runs in March, and met in the championship game, and that matchup opened to doors for all their matchups that followed. And that game was the one that ushered in March Madness as we know it, creating ready-to-wear superstar basketball players. When people watch the college game, they like to see how those kids turned out, so they watch the pro game, too.
But the NBA's responsibility to the college game is the subject of another column, and another writer. (Mr. Packer, please pick up the white courtesy phone.) This is about Wednesday, when a half-dozen big men will walk across the stage in Cary Mitchell suits, shake the Commish's hand, do their TNT stuff and then come talk to Quinn Buckner, Jim Durham and me at the Theater at Madison Square Garden.
And we'll ask them how the prom went.
June 27, 2001
Old Guys Watch Passing of N.B.A. Torch
By MIKE WISE
Moses Malone received the astonishing news from John Lucas, who was nearly his teammate at the University of Maryland.
"He said, `Mo, you got drafted,' " Malone recalled. "I said, `Stop playing, Luke.' "
"No, you got drafted. I'm serious."
"That's cool," Malone said. "Let's go eat."
Riding around College Park, Md., in Lucas's Cadillac 27 years ago, Malone and Lucas were about to grab a sandwich before scrimmaging. "I think I had on jeans and a T-shirt, if I was dressed that nice," Malone said.
On the day Lefty Driesell's Terrapins lost a prize prospect, pro basketball gained its first teenager.
Tonight at Madison Square Garden, a few more youngsters will join a bustling new basketball world. When Commissioner David Stern calls his name, Tyson Chandler, 18 years old, will trudge to the podium in one of two tailored suits hanging in his hotel closet, "Either blue or tan, I'm not sure yet," he said. "David Rickey designed one of them."
Michael Jordan's personal trainer has already spent a lot of time with 18-year-old Eddy Curry, another probable first-rounder. Kwame Brown, who is projected to go No. 1, to the Wizards, has turned to yoga to increase his flexibility.
They've come a long way. So far, so fast, that the landscape today is almost unrecognizable.
"Never mind their games, I don't even know most of their names," Malone said yesterday by telephone from his home outside of Houston.
Eugene Moses Malone is the first player in N.B.A. history to go from high school to a bronze bust in Springfield, Mass., without a stop at college. He broke in with the Utah Stars of the American Basketball Association in 1974, had very good years in Houston, won a championship in Philadelphia and did not retire until 1995.
Twenty seasons, 17,834 rebounds and 1,560 games later, he will be enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame this fall — the only player in the 2001 class.
"These guys got it much better today than me, Bill Willoughby and Darryl Dawkins," Malone said of the three most prominent players who skipped college in the 1970's. "You used to have to average 30 points, 20 rebounds and 10 blocked shots. It's gotten to the point where every kid who averaged 15 points and 10 rebounds is saying, `Why should I even go to college?' "
An agent, Marc Cornstein, agreed. "It's unfortunate," he said, "but there is a feeling out there: if a guy stayed in school, how good can he be?"
No matter who drafts him, Shane Battier never regretted staying at Duke. The life experiences, the bonding. "I mean, you figure out how to get food at 3 o'clock in the morning when you're locked out of your room and you don't have a phone," he said.
Not one of the teenagers who is expected to be drafted ahead of Battier was a consensus national player of the year. Nor did any of them lead his team back from a 19-point deficit in a Final Four game.
None of that matters anymore. N.B.A. apprenticeships today begin at 14 and younger. If you can hold court on a rugged playground at that age, the shoes, sweats and free trips materialize. Soon, the cattle-call summer camps begin, and you're on your way. It is not right or wrong; it's just the way it is.
Rodney White, the North Carolina- Charlotte freshman, who could be a top five pick, attended five high schools. When asked why yesterday, he was very matter-of-fact.
"Each was a steppingstone," White said. "I did the public school as a freshman. Then I heard to get noticed in Jersey, going to a Catholic school is the thing to do. One of my assistants there knew about Mount Zion, which is a basketball factory in North Carolina. I just looked at each one as taking another step."
Malone is not in favor of a proposed age limit, no matter how old- school he sounds. And however noble Stern's intentions may seem, Malone said he understood the economics and marketing involved. "He wants to make sure college ballplayers get picked first," he said.
Without a working agreement or compensation, the N.C.A.A. has been marketing the N.B.A. for four decades, helping Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson and Shaquille O'Neal morph into pop-culture icons. But now the rules have changed, and the class of 2001 is much like other recent draft classes: a group of mostly unknown and unproven youngsters mixed in with a few talented foreigners and the occasional senior.
Tonight Stern will smile and shake the hands of some of the very players he does not want in his league for at least another two years.
This could be one of the greatest big-man drafts in history, but no one has heard of any of these players. Next to some draftees, Battier sounded like a 10-year veteran.
"I might give them some old-man advice real quick," he said, laughing. "Like, `Tuck in your shirt' or something. If they want to go out and institute an age limit for just this year, I'll go out and carry a banner. I'm for that."
Asked what he drove around as a senior in high school, he said proudly, "a 1982 powder-blue Chevrolet Celebrity — the best car I ever had."
Chandler and Curry have been driving Cadillac Escalades, custom sport-utility vehicles, for a while. "Everyone in this draft has an Escalade," Curry said, as if it came with the league's rookie-orientation program. "It's the newest, hottest car."
Curry, the 6-foot-11, 285-pound senior from Thornwood High in South Holland, Ill., said he knew "a little about" Malone. "He was a pretty good player."
After the smiles around the table emerged, he corrected himself. "He was a great player," he said.
In 1974 it was extremely unusual for a player to go straight from high school to the N.B.A. But since Kevin Garnett was drafted in 1995, 11 high school players have been taken in the first round. Today it's commonplace.
Today Moses Malone would not have had to hitch a ride to eat lunch in John Lucas's noisy Cadillac. The Hall of Fame inductee would have had an Escalade months ago.
06-28-2001, 10:30 PM
I've changed my position...I think that they have to enforce an age limmit or this will get out of hand.
From an article here (http://www.dallasbasketball.com/headline_D.asp?pr=)
But for 18 of the 47 that tried, the night after the draft is filled with fear, questions and most likely regrets. Undrafted, these 18 young men are left to scramble for tryouts where they know they are the longest of shots, to field calls from overseas in the hopes of making their living in a foreign country, to find their way onto a CBA roster and keep the dream alive.
Man that's gotta suck to have lost everything on one roll of the dice. No second chance, just "see you sucker".
06-28-2001, 11:50 PM
Why would someone leave college early if they knew they wouldn't go in the first round?
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