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Looking ahead to 2002
June 29, 2001
BY FRANK BURLISON
Is that NBA draft fix of yours still craving another jolt?
Alright then … let's take a quick peek 12 months down the road and try to identify the first 13 guys who will be squeezing NBA caps down on their heads and shaking hands with David Stern in 2002.
1. Yao Ming, center, 7-4, 280, Shanghai, China
Comment: The first non-U.S. player who could revolutionize the game globally -- and sell a whole lot more NBA merchandise in China.
How long will it be before some broadcaster refers to him as the "Chairman Yao" of the backboards?
Sorry, I couldn't resist. …
2. Jason Williams, point guard, 6-1, 190, Jr., Duke
Comment: He'd had been the No. 1 selection in New York City Wednesday night if he weren't so insistent on finishing his college degree before departing for the Life of the NBA Young Millionaires Club.
How dare him?
3. Chris Duhon, point guard, 6-1, 175, Soph., Duke
Comment: Dazzled in the NCAA Tourney and during the USA Basketball Trials in Colorado Springs.
He would have been a lottery selection Wednesday night and will be one of the first two guards chosen in the 2002 draft -- assuming he, too, doesn't decide to spend a junior season making life miserable for guys who try to guard him or score on him.
4. Dajuan Wagner, point guard, 6-1, 195, Freshman, Memphis
Comment: That one-season tour stop in Memphis -- great move hiring pops, John Calipari! -- will generate a lot of hoops juice before Wagner picks out his Green Room duds for next June.
5. Amare Stoudemire, forward-center, 6-9½, 235, Cypress Creek High (Orlando, Fla.)
Comment: Anyone operating on the illusion that this guy will actually ever honor that "commitment" to play at Memphis in 2002-03 also bought the myth that Eddy Curry seriously considering playing at DePaul.
There will be no one quite like him in high school -- or college, for that matter -- basketball next season.
6. Mike Dunleavy, guard-forward, 6-9, 220, Jr., Duke
Comment: I'll be unwavering in this claim -- he's the most versatile player in college today.
The opinions of many: He'll be a 6-10 guard in the NBA before long.
Damn! Duke is going to be tough to beat next season!
7. Chris Marcus, center, 7-1, 260, Sr., Western Kentucky
Comment: Could have the option of picking up a fourth season of eligibility in 2002-03 but he'll have to think long and hard about turning down a chance to be the first college big man chosen in the 2002 draft.
8. Andrew Gooden, forward, 6-9, 230, Jr., Kansas
Comment: This should be the season he evolves into dominant player on both ends of the floor for 30 to 35 minutes -- or longer -- per game.
He's one of several reasons why the Jayhawks might be spending a long spring weekend in Atlanta in 2002.
9. Kareem Rush, shooting guard, 6-6, 205, Jr., Missouri
Comment: The best "scorer" in college basketball … well, maybe other than Jason Williams.
Rush still has the sweetest jump shot in the college game.
10. Jared Jeffries, forward, 6-9½, 205, Soph., Indiana
Comment: Needs a lot of work in the weight room and needs to become a more assertive presence both in the low post on the offensive end, and defensively, to elevate his game to this level next season.
And if he does that, he'll elevate the Hoosiers into the national ratings in the process.
11. Tayshaun Prince, guard-forward, 6-8, 210, Sr., Kentucky
Comment: The loss to USC in the East Regional demonstrated how much more strength and jump-shooting polish he needs before leaving Lexington.
But he's improved 25 to 30 percent each season -- props to Tubby Smith and his staff -- and comparable improvement will pay juicy dividends for the Wildcats and Prince.
12. Brian Cook, forward, 6-10, 230, Jr., Illinois
Comment: Another guy that needs a dose of assertiveness every once in a while.
At times he's a stunning shooter and passer -- if he adds defense and rebounding to that "stunning" category, the Illini will advance a round deeper into the NCAA tourney that it did last March.
Translated? He'd help take Bill Self's bunch to the Final Four happenings in Atlanta.
13. Tamar Slay, guard-forward, 6-8½, 220, Sr., Marshall
Comment: The smoothest player in college basketball, with remarkable shooting touch and range and advanced ball-handling and passing skills.
If he does a bit more work under the backboards, he'll be a Wooden Award finalist and take his team into the NCAA tourney for the first time.
07-01-2001, 12:31 PM
Dunleavy at 6...he didn't even start every game last year did he?
07-01-2001, 01:46 PM
Kid Dunleavy's going to tear down the league in another year. Mike Miller who??
07-01-2001, 11:19 PM
Only 360 days, 17 hours, 15 minutes, 15 seconds until it gets underway. i/expressions/face-icon-small-happy.gif
I wish we could pick up Phoenix's pick for next year. Might be a good one. i/expressions/face-icon-small-smile.gif
07-02-2001, 09:12 AM
I tell you what, Kareem Rush will more than likely raise his stock next year. That guy is the REAL DEAL!!!!! The first two picks are LOCKED, NOTHING'S changing those barring injury. Other than that, the rest are a toss up. Although next year's draft looks better than this years draft if you ask me.
July 2, 2001
By Dan Wetzel
SportsLine.com Senior Writer
Scouting for the 2002 NBA Draft season will officially begin this weekend, in Indianapolis and Teaneck, N.J. And it won't just be high school kids that the collective eyes of the league will be on at the annual shoe-sponsored talent camps.
If Kareem Rush keeps up his stellar play, he will be a high lottery pick as an early draft entrant next June.(Allsport)
Each afternoon during both the Nike All-America Camp in Indy and the Adidas ABCD Camp in New Jersey, some of the nation's top collegiate players, all working the events as counselors, will get together for some loosely structured, but highly competitive, pickup games. While more serious games are better to scout, the hardest working guys in the business will be right there taking notes.
"You can see if a kid can play, if he has speed, you can see some things," said Denver Nuggets scout Jerry Holloway, who will attend the Adidas camp. "It's pickup ball, but I usually watch all the games. We'll have someone go to Nike also and after we will compare notes and get an idea on whom we need to watch during the season."
All 29 NBA teams are expected to have at least one scout at each of the two major camps, both to watch the counselor scrimmages and keep an eye on the hot high schoolers. It has been that way since the summer of 1995, just weeks after Kevin Garnett became a lottery pick out of Chicago Farragut High School.
The Nike camp is slated to feature such college stars as Duke's Jason Williams, Western Kentucky's Chris Marcus, Missouri's Kareem Rush, Indiana's Jared Jeffries and Gonzaga's Dan Dickau among others. Adidas should feature similar collegiate talent.
The scouting opportunity at these camps will begin the rush to slot amateur players in the 2002 draft. The very top draft picks -- high schoolers included -- will skip NBA camps next spring, making this one of the few times prep or mid-major players such as Marcus face top competition.
Although draft slots and player opinions can change in a hurry -- no one would have slated Kwame Brown as the No. 1 pick of the 2001 draft a year ago -- below is a quick and early look at the potential lottery selections a year from now. Following the mock draft are the most likely high school players to make the leap from preps to pros.
1. Yao Ming, 7-5, Shanghai (China) Sharks -- If the Chinese government lets the big guy over the wall, as expected, then this is biggest no brainer No. 1 selection since Tim Duncan came out of Wake Forest in 1997. Huge size, good athleticism and the potential to sell millions in merchandising in the Far East make him a steal financially as well as competitively.
2. Jason Williams, 6-2, Jr., Duke -- Speed, scoring ability, great feel for the game -- everything you want in a NBA point guard except exceptional height. Currently attending summer school in an effort to graduate from Duke in just three years.
3. Chris Marcus, 7-1, Sr., Western Kentucky -- Technically could return for a fifth year (fourth season) of college ball, but the late-blooming big guy should be ready for the NBA. Barely recruited out of Charlotte Olympia High, Marcus' combination of touch, rebounding and determination to improve every day has made him a favorite of front-office types.
4. Kareem Rush, 6-6, Jr., Missouri -- A virtually unstoppable scorer as a sophomore at Mizzou, if Rush produces another huge campaign he climbs this high. Great intelligence, fundamentals and ridiculous quickness makes him a wing built for the league.
5. Amare Stoudamire, 6-9, Orlando (Fla.) Cypress Creek -- The league loves size, especially high school size and Stoudamire is tall and big. Committed to Memphis last winter, but with a history of sporadic high school attendance, not to mention major upside, he's a virtual lock for the draft.
6. DaJuan Wagner, 6-3, Fr., Memphis -- Claim to fame was scoring 100 one night last winter for Camden (N.J.) High. But what everyone loves about Wagner isn't just the obvious physical gifts, it's the passion with which he plays the game. John Calipari sold him on preparing him for the league. One season will probably be enough for a player who would have been a first-rounder this year.
7. Caron Butler, 6-6, So., UConn -- Had a great performance at the USA Basketball Camp in June and is primed to take on the scoring load in Storrs. Smooth, physical and with a good outside game, Butler should be the latest small forward superstar to develop under Jim Calhoun.
8. Shavlik Randolph, 6-9, Raleigh (N.C.) Broughton -- Already a legend in the Triangle, Randolph's combination of size and outside touch has scouts intrigued. As a footnote, would be the first white player to go straight out of high school.
9. Antwain Barbour, 6-5, Wabash Valley (Ill.) Community College -- If Kedrick Brown can go from a junior college to the No. 11 pick, then anything is possible for Barbour. After leading Wabash to the NJCAA National Championship as a freshman, he wowed everyone at the USA Basketball tryouts by scoring virtually at will.
10. Sani Ibraham, 6-10, Winchendon (Mass.) Prep -- There are better players out there, but nothing gets the NBA in a lather quicker than young, athletic height and Ibraham is all of that. The fact he plays the game with great passion and is physically mature won't hurt either.
11. Chris Duhon, 6-1, So., Duke -- Some think he would have been the first point guard taken had he come out after his freshman season, despite not even starting. Great speed and terrific talent could send him out after next year, although Mike Krzyzewski has a knack for keeping his guys around Durham longer than expected.
12. Brian Cook, 6-10, Jr., Illinois -- Needs only to step up his intensity and come ready for work every night next winter to prove himself to the NBA. Extremely gifted and smooth with an upper body that continues to fill out.
13. Jared Jeffries, 6-9, So., Indiana -- This will be the season for Jeffries to step up and display his immense abilities. He is expected to be stronger and a better shooter and, with Kirk Haston gone, the focal point of Mike Davis' pro-style attack in Bloomington.
As for the high school players, Stoudamire, Randolph and Ibraham won't be the only ones thinking about the league. As long as the NBA has its current rookie salary structure in place, expect a half dozen or more prep players to jump into the draft waters.
The Class of 2002 isn't blessed with the remarkable height of this past group -- five of the six high schoolers went 6-10 and up -- but that doesn't mean the trend isn't there. Plus, there will always be players like Ousmane Cisse who have advisors intent on sending kids into the draft.
So keep your eye on the following prep stars that might not make the lottery but will strongly consider making the jump:
Lenny Cooke, 6-5 Old Tappan (N.J.) Northern Valley -- New York City playground legend whose life turned around after he found a home in affluent Jersey.
Kelenna Azubuike, 6-6, Tulsa (Okla.) Victory Christian -- Still has a lot to prove, but Azubuike's father has been quoted as saying his son is all but in the draft.
Sean Dockery, 6-2, Chicago Julian -- If he doesn't qualify academically, the talented Midway guard will give it a long look.
Alexander Johnson, 6-10, Albany (Ga.) Dougherty -- From here on out betting that a big man, especially from a small town, is going to turn down the league is inadvisable.
NBA scouts make presence known at high-school camp
July 6, 2001
SportsLine.com wire reports
INDIANAPOLIS -- The hundreds of college coaches who attend the Nike All-America Camp each summer were absent Friday.
That didn't mean, though, that the 190 high school players or the 19 camp counselors were not on display during the first day of practice.
Actually, the auditions were already under way -- for the NBA scouts.
"We had 16 teams watching the camp counselors' games this morning," said former college coach George Raveling, now the director of Nike's All-America Camp. "Not one time since I've been involved with this camp have we had a single problem with an NBA scout."
Still, the invasion of NBA scouts to summer camps, designed for high school players, is relatively new. While some have shown up at past Nike camps, the practice did not become commonplace until 1999.
Over the next four days, Nike officials expect all 29 NBA teams to attend this camp for the third straight year, albeit incognito.
"You know this morning only two guys had anything on that said what team they were with," Raveling said, smiling. "It was almost as if they were embarrassed to be here."
The mission, however, is no embarrassment.
Each is looking for the next Ray Allen, the next Vince Carter, the next Kevin Garnett -- all of whom attended the Nike camp while in high school.
A year ago, the NBA scouts found three high school players at Nike- - Tyson Chandler, Eddy Curry and DeSagana Diop -- all of whom were lottery picks in last month's NBA Draft.
Now the focus is on players such as Shavlik Randolph, a senior from Raleigh, N.C., and Amare Stoudemire, a senior from Orlando, Fla., who first caught the attention of scouts at last year's camp.
"He was not a household name here last year, he was just another kid," Raveling said of Stoudemire. "Some kids come here and find out 'I'm as good as I thought I was.' Some kids come here and find out 'I'm not as good as I thought I was.' And some kids come here and find out 'I'm better than I thought I was."'
The scouts are looking for more, though.
On Friday, the NBA scouts spent most of the afternoon watching the camp counselors, who are college players, running through drills and playing pickup games.
"We come in here to see where they are and what they're doing," said Keith Smart, a scout for the Cleveland Cavaliers. "We don't want to be caught in the dark. If somebody wants some information on a player we want to have it."
The camp is not all about playing basketball.
Each high school athlete attends classes in subjects such as conflict resolution and interviewing skills and college finances and team building.
Each athlete receives advice in how to attain better grades and writing resumes.
And each student hopes to put on his best performance for the college coaches, who will be in full force Sunday when the summer recruiting period officially opens.
One subject Nike counselors don't address, though, is what future avenue the players chart.
"That's not our role," Raveling said. "We'd be accused of giving information to kids about whether they should go pro or whether they should go to college, and that's not our role."
But the subject is a hot topic these days, in the hotel rooms.
"A couple of us joke around a lot," said Jarrett Jack, a prospect from Fort Washington, Md. "A lot of guys want to know where we're going to college and most of the people here are like 'What college? I'm not going to college, I'm going to the NBA."'
The matter is more serious for the counselors, many of whom also hope to impress the NBA scouts.
But Raveling does not believe things will change anytime soon.
"I don't know, I'm probably as interested as everybody else to see where it all goes," he said. "Twenty years from now, we might realize this is the start of an evolution."
July 9, 2001
Hitting the Lottery as a Junior?
By IRA BERKOW
ACKENSACK, N.J. — A STELLAR array of basketball cognoscenti that included scouts from almost every N.B.A. team and college coaches — pads and pencils at the ready, projected mental insights awhirl — flocked yesterday to see some 220 of the best high school players in the world showcased at Fairleigh Dickinson's Rothman Athletic Center. One player in particular, however, caught much of their attention.
He is a 16-year-old from St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in Akron, Ohio, who will be a junior in the fall. Many of the gathered connoisseurs believed that the lad, LeBron James, a 6-foot-7, 210-pound point guard, shooting guard and small forward — sometimes he plays as if he is all three in one, a kind of hoops Swiss Army knife — would have been taken in the first round of the most recent N.B.A. draft, possibly a lottery pick.
Hey, it was one thing for three of the first four picks in the draft to be high school seniors, for the first time ever, and four of the first eight — but a high school sophomore potentially going pro? "And next year," said Sonny Vaccaro, founder and director of the Adidas ABCD four-day camp, which began yesterday, "LeBron could surely go in the lottery. He'll be bigger, stronger and smarter."
O.K., still, a high school junior making the jump? Got to be kidding? No?
Tom Konchalski, who evaluates high school players for his respected H.S.B.I. Report, said: "LeBron isn't an extraterrestrial athlete, but he has a tremendous feel for the game. He sees situations two passes ahead of the play. He's been compared to Vince Carter and Tracy McGrady. But I think he has a better feel for the game than they do."
He meant than they did when they were James's age, right? "No, I mean right now," Konchalski said. "I doubt seriously if he's going to college."
So LeBron James, in a yellow uniform and wearing No. 155, his hair tufted out and his pants baggy, began one of the four games going on at once, after the first round of four games had been completed. There were marvelous players on the courts, including 6-6 Lenny Cooke of Old Tappan, N.J., and 6-8 Carmelo Anthony of Baltimore, but none except James made first team all- America last season as chosen by USA Today, the first underclassman named to the first team in the 18 years that such authoritative selections have been made.
He tried his first shot, a 3-pointer from the top of the key, and it swished. His next shot was a 3-pointer from the corner. Swish. There was a fast-break dunk, a clever pass for a basket, a missed jump shot, then he snared a rebound and stuffed it with both hands behind his head.
"Wow," one of the other players in the stands said. "Wow," said nearly everyone else.
James's mother, Gloria, watched her only child play. She is an enthusiastic fan of LeBron.
"What I want for LeBron is his happiness," said Gloria, who has worked in accounting and sales but is now unemployed. "He loves basketball. But I would like to see him graduate with his class from high school, at least. But we'll make a decision when the time comes. He's a level- headed boy. He's never given me a lick of problems. He's mannerable and respectful."
LeBron James, a solid B student, said that he wasn't sure what he planned to do. "College is important," he said, "you can't play basketball all your life. You should prepare for something else, too." To be safe, his mother said she was taking out an insurance policy on him.
Kwame Brown, the No. 1 pick by the Washington Wizards last month, received a $12 million contract for three years. "That's a lot of money," James said. "But we've struggled this long, a couple more years won't make that much difference."
Billy Donovan, head coach at Florida, had signed Brown to attend his university. "And he wanted to go to college," Donovan said. "But he made a decision that he thought was best for him, and his family. I can't fault him for that. "
Ernie Grunfeld, general manager of the Milwaukee Bucks, was in attendance, primarily, he said, because his 6-6 son, Danny, who will be a senior, was playing — he's a good player but not a pro prospect, yet. "I wish all the kids would go to college first," Grunfeld said. "But I also don't think you should prevent someone from trying to earn a living. I just hope the kids who do skip college have the emotional and physical maturity to succeed."
Among the players, 6-7 Demetris Nichols from Barrington, R.I., who will be a junior, dreams about an N.B.A. future, like many of his peers, but is also realistic. "We talk more about college than the pros," he said. He also thought there was substance in the talk that Kobe Bryant gave to the group Saturday night. Bryant, the Lakers' star, jumped from high school to the pros. "Kobe said: `Go to college. You have something to fall back on. If you break a leg, then where are you?' " Nichols said.
But Kobe — who, like Brown, is an alumnus of this camp — didn't go to college. "He's good," Nichols replied, with emphasis. He added that he has to be careful: "Everybody wants a piece of you. If somebody tells me I should go pro, I'm going to make sure he knows basketball."
From appearances, that could be somebody like LeBron James, counsel also to himself.
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