NCAA BK

BURLISON: Kapono trying to prove himself again

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Frank Burlison

 
   
 

CHICAGO

He was a McDonald¿s All-America as a high school senior, a four-time All-Pac-10 Conference selection and the third leading scorer in the history of a storied program . But, while some players whose college resumes could be printed on the back of a business card are less than a month away from NBA draft lotto land, was one of the 66 wannabes who spent 1 ½ hours on the floor Tuesday night at the Moody Bible Institute. He¿s one of the players who showed up in Chicago for the annual rite of passage known as the NBA¿s Pre-Draft Camp. Pull on a jersey and lace up the high tops, gents, and let¿s see what you can do as 200-plus representatives of NBA franchises take a look . . . Should one of the most accomplished players ever at have to resort to participating in this glorified cattle call to demonstrate that he¿s worthy of being one of the 58 players whose names get called from the podium in Madison Square Garden? Kapono wasn¿t quibbling after Session I. Nor was he backtracking in an effort to imagine a way things might have worked out differently. He could have been among the group of about 15 or so other college players who are reasonably sure enough that they are first-round locks and don¿t have to be here. ¿That¿s always been the story of my career,¿ he said, shrugging. ¿I¿ve always had to prove I belong, because I¿ve never been a spectacular player, a guy who might be a great leaper and considered to have great upside. I¿ve never been one of the locks.¿ The rap on the 6-foot-7 Kapono¿s otherwise impressive array of offensive skills is that they don¿t include the ability to create a shot via his own one-on-one skills. As for the question about his being quick enough laterally to guard quality opponents . . . it¿s one Kapono has been aware of since he enrolled a ninth grader at Artesia High in the Los Angeles suburb of Lakewood. That rap, and that question, are why Kapono will be here through the final session Friday night, along with the rest of the guys with so much to prove in front of the GMs, coaches, personnel directors and scouts. ¿Sure, you can sense that everyone here feels the urgency of this week,¿ he said. ¿There is a lot riding, a lot at stake for us. I¿m sure guys are going to be pressing, because they know their careers are on the line here. But, as time goes by, hopefully everyone will calm down.¿ And Kapono is nothing if not calm about what he has to do this week to demonstrate there¿s a bit more to his game than just launching jump shots. ¿Obviously, each guy isn¿t going to get 20 shots per game and we¿re not going to run the most fluid sets on every possession,¿ he said. ¿So, you¿ve got to try to find some way to shine, no matter how subtle. I¿m out there trying to set screens, rebound and defend.¿ Kapono worked out for several NBA teams after his freshman season and, after some scintillating shooting performances the buzz was that he could possibly be chosen in the first round. But he elected to return to , as he did after his sophomore and junior seasons. Some would suggest that he missed a wonderful opportunity in not turning pro three years ago, and that his stock as a professional was only slashed over the past three seasons under now-former coach Steve Lavin. But Kapono isn¿t one of those doing that suggesting. ¿I have no regrets; I¿m happy with the way things he went,¿ he said. ¿People say ¿Well, now you¿re going to have to prove yourself (here).¿ But they¿ve said the same thing about ever since I started playing basketball.¿

Harrick sighting

Jim Harrick, whose four-stop career as a college coach in all likelihood came to end following his March ¿retirement¿ in the wake of the Tony Cole-sparked scandal at the University of Georgia, was among those watching. He said that he and his wife, Sally, are -bound again. They¿ll move into a house in the South Orange County town of Rancho Santa Margarita July 1, where they¿ll be closer to their children and grandchildren. As for where coaching will take him next, well ... there¿s always the NBA, right? ¿I¿ve got no irons in the fire right now, Frankie,¿ he said, in that drawl that never left him, even though he moved from his native state to in the early 1960s. ¿I¿m going to try to talk to a few people here,¿ he said. ¿But look a lot of these guys here tonight; a lot of them are hunting for jobs.¿

Camp notes

  • Forward , dropping in jumpers from near the 3-point line and showing a bit more athleticism than some scouts realized he possessed, was the most impressive of the Arizona trio here that included forward and guard .
  • It was easy to see why 6-5 BYU guard was such a hit with scouts during the Portsmouth Invitational in early April. He¿s got a quick and tight release, with plenty of range, on his jump shot and he¿s more than quick and strong enough to defend quality offensive players. He¿s got a chance to play himself into the first round. That, by the way, may be one of the Top 10 most uttered comments here this week.
  • James Lang was the only one of the six high school seniors in the draft playing here. The 6-10, 300-pound (plus) Lang (Birmingham, Ala.) was matched briefly against 6-10, 280 (University of San Diego) briefly in a scrimmage situation. It definitely wasn¿t a thing of finesse.
  • NBA folks may wonder some about his jump shot and decision making but guard was as impressive athletically as anyone Monday night.
  • The best jump shooter? It was no contest — of . If his play this week convinces at least one NBA club that he can be at least an adequate man-to-man defender, he could sneak into the bottom of the first round. Excuse me! I mean he may play himself into the first round.. Frank Burlison can be reached at his e-mail address: fburlison@foxsports.com.
  • Tagged: Arizona, UCLA, Southern California, California, Virginia, Mississippi State, Creighton, West Virginia, San Diego, Brigham Young

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