NCAA BK

BURLISON notes: Star players sit out pre-draft camp

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Frank Burlison

 
   
 

CHICAGO

The NBA's pre-draft camp — delayed, courtesy Mother Nature, by about 14 hours — finally got under way Wednesday morning at Moody Bible Institute, seemingly in front of about every head coach and general manager whose teams weren't playing in Los Angeles later Wednesday night.

The most noteworthy thing about the first morning of workouts and the first scrimmage was the list of players who declined offers to spend a week in Chicago in front of as many as 10 representatives from every NBA franchise.

(Maryland), (Kentucky), (Stanford), Roger Mason (Virginia) and (UCLA), all considered probable — but anything but certain — first-round picks, were among those the NBA representatives would have loved to take an up-close look at in workouts and games, which run through Friday night.

Jacobsen — a 6-foot-6 junior who, if he were to return to , would have had to miss one game for each "game" he played here — and Mason (suffering from a sore shoulder), had solid reasons for skipping the camp.

But Dixon, Prince and Gadzuric could have gone a long way toward cementing first-round status on June 26 with strong performances here.

Their respective agents obviously feel confident they can convince teams of their first-round worthiness during their individual workouts — and might also think that status could get a bit shaky with sub-par performances over the three days here.

The 6-foot-10 Gadzuric seemingly had the most to gain by participating here.

Remember, Steven Hunter — then a 6-10 sophomore from whom most scouts had projected as a late second-round pick, at best — played himself into the No. 15 pick (by Orlando) a year ago by wowing clubs with his innate athletic ability, if still unrefined basketball skills.

And there is no post player here who has anything like the quickness and running and jumping ability of Gadzuric, who is still — even after four seasons at — lacking considerably in the polish department.

General managers and personnel directors were also perplexed as to why the representatives of DeAngelo Collins and Jamal Sampson — who, between them, have exactly one season of college experience — don't have their clients in camp.

The 6-9 Collins (a McDonald's All-American at Inglewood High in ) and the 6-11 Sampson (who played as a freshman at Cal this past season and was a longtime traveling team teammate of Chicago's Tyson Chandler) are considered late- and early-second-round candidates, respectively, right now.

But, again, in a camp minus a lot of quality players their size, they might have played themselves into the first round with impressive performances.

Surefire first-rounders

Only two athletes on the 65-player roster — guard Freddie Jones and State center — are considered "near definite" first-round picks.

Jones, who helped lead the Ducks to their first conference title since 1939 this season, played for the first time Wednesday since straining his right rotator cuff during a May 28 workout with the Grizzlies.

Despite the injury — and the fact that he's got more of a shot at the first round than some of the players who passed on the chance to come here — Jones said he didn't hesitate about playing in front of the hordes of NBA types this week.

Asked if he wasn't afraid of hurting his stock — especially with the sore shoulder that noticeably affected his jump shot Wednesday morning — Jones smiled.

"I've got confidence in my ability to perform here," he said. "I'm not afraid — it's basketball. I'm not going to back down."

Jennings impressed with his quickness and running ability, as well as his shooting and passing skills.

Now that of has withdrawn from the draft pool, Jennings should be the third "true" center chosen on June, following Yao Ming of China and of (assuming he stays in the draft).

The 6-10 of will be chosen before Jennings but is considered both a center and power forward candidate by most scouts.

Camp notes

  • Along with Freddie Jones, the most "high-profile" college players in camp include consensus All-America guard of (FOXSports.com's Player of the Year), power forward (of national champion ), forward (Oklahoma), forward (Notre Dame), sophomore guard (Michigan State), guard (Temple) and swingman (Syracuse).

  • Junior-college forwards Lee Benson and Kei Madison both played pretty well Wednesday morning in their "debuts" in action against major-college talent. Both could be mid- to late-second-round choices.

    Benson, a 1992 graduate of Dunbar High in , , was released last August after eight years of incarceration in penal institutions.

    BURLISON'S BREAKDOWN
    Take a look back at more of the reports delivered by Frank Burlison during the Chicago pre-draft camp:


  • Lenny Cooke, a 6-6, 20-year-old former New York City prep star who was ineligible to play on the high school level this past season, appeared to suffer a sprained left ankle during morning workouts.

  • Ronald Murray, a 6-3 and very strong (about 205 pounds) point guard from Shaw College (an NAIA school in Raleigh, N.C.), played well at times during the first game Wednesday. Frank Burlison can be reached at his e-mail address, fburlison@foxsports.com.
  • Tagged: Memphis, DePaul, Cincinnati, Oregon, UCLA, Stanford, Southern California, California, Michigan State, Western Kentucky, Arkansas State, Maryland, Arkansas, Kentucky, Ohio, Temple, Notre Dame, Syracuse, Oklahoma, Fresno State

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