NCAA BK

BURLISON: Pre-draft camp winners and losers

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Frank Burlison

 
   
 

CHICAGO

Three days of auditions for 65 guys hoping to do a lot of celebrating on the evening of June 26 — NBA draft night, by the way — came to a close when the pre-draft camp wrapped up Friday night at the Moody Bible Institute. A hefty percentage — maybe one-half to one-third — of the league's coaches, general managers, personnel directors and scouts had bailed out before the final games were played Friday. And that's a shame, because they missed a couple of sizzling performances that no doubt enhanced the stock of two players — to the point in which and Ronald Murray are now considered fringe first-round possibilities. Here's a rundown on the big winners, the potential losers and some others who remained at status quo during the Wednesday-Friday event:

Big winners

  • (Tennessee) One of those maddeningly inconsistent college players of the past four seasons, the 6-5 1/2, recently turned 21-year-old, struggled with his jumper (six-for-20 from the field) in the first two games and didn't do much to make anyone think he was anything but a late second-round pick, at best. But on Friday afternoon he looked polished, smooth and explosive, knocking in 10 of 14 shots (including two of three 3-pointers) to go with nine rebounds, three assists and three steals. If he can continue that kind of high-energy performance over the next couple of weeks of individual workouts, he'll have a lot of teams reshuffling their two-guard ratings. He would now seem to be securely upper second-round — with the possibility of sneaking into the final few picks of the first round.
    BURLISON'S BREAKDOWN
    Take a look back at more of the reports delivered by Frank Burlison during the Chicago pre-draft camp:


  • Ronald Murray (Shaw University) The former Philadelphia prep star spent two seasons playing for an obscure Division II program in Raleigh, N.C. He played well during a couple of individual workouts for teams who tried to low-key his potential but the secret was exposed during the Chicago workouts. His combination of size, strength, quickness and jump-shooting ability among point guards may be second only to Jay Williams in this draft pool. He still makes a lot of fundamental mistakes, but some team will be willing to overlook those rough edges and pick him somewhere early in the second round, at worst.
  • (Valparaiso) A lot of scouts had an image of him as being just a "catch-and-shoot" 6-7 small forward for the past four seasons at Valpo. But Barton demonstrated a well-rounded slashing/driving game in camp, and a deceptive first step that led to a couple of resounding dunks in traffic. He's one of the better passing forwards in the draft pool and shoots NBA 3-pointers very comfortably. He'll be drafted by the midpoint of the second round at the latest.
  • (Oregon) He'll always be considered ponderous, but his lack of end line-to-end line speed, and lateral quickness, won't be enough to keep him off some NBA roster for a long time to come. Christoffersen (measured at just a tad under 7-1 in stocking feet) has a well-rounded variety of low-post moves, can shoot with either hand and has a remarkably soft touch up to 12 feet away. Can he be as good as some day? Absolutely ...
  • (Notre Dame) At times, some observers might have gotten a little too excited because of his eye-popping explosiveness (he was easily the best frontcourt runner/jumper in the camp). He's still a very undersized power forward prospect (he was measured and weighed at 6-6, 223 pounds) whose passing, dribbling and jump-shooting skills will need to come a long way before he can ever play too far away from the lane on the NBA level. But, after being considered a late second-round possibility pre-Chicago, he's now in the very early second-round, and possibly late first-round, stratosphere.

    Might be hurting

  • Freddie Jones (Oregon) Despite suffering from a strained right rotator cuff he picked up the week before during a workout, Jones wanted to demonstrate that he wasn't afraid to prove he belonged in the first round. It was a decision that could leave him with painful consequences. Some scouts were surprised when he was measured at 6-2 1/4 instead of his listed 6-4. They wouldn't have been if they'd ever stood next to him during the season. The aching right shoulder left him reluctant to take jump shots — and he wasn't real accurate when he was finally forced to take them in scrimmages. He's still an elite-level NBA athlete (at 218 pounds), with the kind of vertical explosiveness seen in the likes of Vince Carter. But if he doesn't convince at least one team that he also has an NBA-class jump shot, he will slip into the second round.
  • Lenny Cooke (No college basketball) The New York City playground legend injured a toe on his left foot in the first session of workouts and only played (briefly) in his team's final game on Friday night. At 6-5 1/2, he's going to have to play guard on the NBA level — and he didn't demonstrate enough backcourt skills during his limited participation over the three days to make a convincing enough argument that he should be even a late second-round pick. He's going to have to play himself into the draft during any individual workouts he can line up.
  • (Southern ) Like Freddie Jones, he's a very strong two guard with a lot of explosiveness and the kind of quickness that could help make him a solid defender on the NBA level. But, also like Jones, scouts left the camp wondering about the reliability of his jump shot. If he alleviates those concerns during individual workouts, though, he'll have a solid chance of hearing his name called.
  • Kei Madison (Okaloosa-Walton, Fla., JC) He was one of the better runner/jumpers among forwards in the camp but didn't demonstrate nearly the overall polish nor feel for the game that scouts hoped they'd see. He could still be drafted very late in the second round, but things will get very crowded with college and non-U.S. prospects by then, meaning he may have to try to make a team's roster via the free-agent approach.
  • (Michigan State) He'll be drafted somewhere but it's more likely going to be very late in the second round instead of the first round — which, most feel, should have been the only reason he would leave State after his sophomore season. He said, though, that he is committed to staying in the draft even if he doesn't get first-round feedback from teams.

    Status quo

  • (Cincinnati) Logan played very well in two games in Chicago (he skipped the final game Friday) — probably better than any other point guard prospect in attendance. The size issue (he's just 5-10) isn't going to go away and that, ultimately, could be the issue that keeps anyone from tabbing him in the first round. But I'd hate to be another point guard matched against him in a team's individual workouts over the next couple of weeks. This is one competitive, no-nonsense basketball player.
  • (Wake Forest) He didn't produce the scoring numbers of and and obviously doesn't have the eye-catching athleticism of . But he did demonstrate the kind of overall skill that most scouts who'd seen a lot of him already knew about. He was an early second-round pick going into Chicago and left it with the same status.
  • (Arkansas State) He was looked upon as a possible late first/early second-round pick before Wednesday and left the camp Saturday morning with the same reputation. Some scouts were surprised that he was as fluid and as quick off of his feet as he demonstrated during drills and games here. But he still needs to demonstrate a lot of aggressiveness and low-post strength in order to convince someone needing a true center to snap him up somewhere in the first round.
  • (Fresno State) The 6-3 Maddox, who didn't play any organized basketball last season, showed that he can penetrate with the ball and get to the rim as well or better than anyone in this draft pool — Jay Williams excluded. But most scouts who saw him during the 2000-01 season in Fresno already knew that. What he still has to convince them, via individual workouts, is that he can be at least a mild jump-shooting threat in order to merit being picked somewhere in the second round. And, during Chicago, he seemed to avoid taking jump shots at all costs — something scouts were quick to take notice of. Frank Burlsion can be reached at his e-mail address: fburlison@foxsports.com.
  • Tagged: Nets, Raptors, Vince Carter, Memphis, Maryland, Tennessee, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Valparaiso, Fresno State

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