NBA

BURLISON: Ely on Yao; plus true draft heights revealed

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Frank Burlison

 
   
 
can offer a lot of perspective on the 2002 NBA draft:
  • He's one of the few players in this draft who's actually guarded China's Yao Ming, the 7-foot-5, 21-year-old who more than likely will be the first name read at the podium in Madison Square Garden on June 26.
  • And he's one of a vanishing breed — a possible lottery selection who actually played four years of college basketball at . Most college players' exposure to Ming has come through television footage of his May "workout" for NBA teams in Chicago, or late-night highlights of China's game with the USA during the 2000 Summer Olympics. Ely, though, has seen him face to face. In fact, he's played again him — face to breastbone. The 6-foot-9 (without shoes, as measured by the NBA Saturday in Chicago) Ely hooked up against Ming during the World University Games in China last August. And Ming blocked an Ely shot attempt in the final seconds that would have won the gold medal for the U.S. "He's definitely a presence, especially defensively," Ely said, smiling. "He can actually move (well) and that surprised me. He's not 7-6 (Ming was measured at 7-5 by the NBA in May) and a stiff." Ely believes that Ming will be a defensive presence immediately in the NBA. His offensive effectiveness, at least immediately, remains to be seen. "Everyone from overseas needs to get used to this (NBA) game," Ely said. "Everyone says he's going to be the one to 'calm' Shaq down but that's a myth." However another myth, Ely believes, is Ming is more likely to end up "another Shawn ," a center of massive proportion who hasn't been anything but a backup in the league. "That's not a fair comparison at all," Ely said. "(How good he will be) is totally up to him as far as how hard he wants to work, because he certainly has the talent. When I was out there again him, he seemed to be playing hard." Ming also seems to have a pretty advanced hoops sense of humor. "I was head-butting the hell out of (his) collarbone (while trying to guard him)," Ely said, laughing. "I was just putting my head in the middle of his chest, trying to push him out (of the lane). The ref said 'stop' and I said 'I don't know about this 'stop' — he's too big!' And he (Ming) just looked down at me and started laughing." Like everyone else, Ely is anxious to see just how Ming fares against Shaq and every other big man who's going to take their pops. "He's going to be a nice player," Ely said. "I can't wait to see him (in the NBA)." And Ely can't wait to see another guy in an NBA uniform, too. That would be himself. Draft scuttlebutt has him being chosen anywhere from No. 13 (by Milwaukee) to No. 21 (by ). Ely prefers not to get hung up on those kinds of details right now. "This whole process is so drawn out," Ely said. "I just want a job. I want to go out and play." He's considered easily the most polished of all of the post players in the draft pool, especially on the offensive end. And he should be, Ely believes. After all, he spent five years at , the first as an ineligible freshman. "I pride myself on that (his polish) but that's what spending five years in college will do," he said. "I guess I'm one of a dying breed — a guy who stayed in college for the full load." Bypassing an opportunity at the 2001 draft "was the best thing I could have done. I went from probably going early in the second round to, hopefully, the lottery," he said, smiling. And that's certainly worth sticking around college for five years, right?

    Real height

    The NBA released the list of the various measurements (height with and without shoes on, weight, wingspan and one-arm reach with shoes on) and, as expected, most players came up shorter than where they were listed in college. For example, Dajuan — listed at 6-3 at — measured 6-0¾ in socks. Jason (aka "Jay") Williams was 6-2 at but the NBA found him to be 6-0¼. (Kansas) and Amare Stoudemire (Cypress Creek High in Orlando, Fla.) have been listed at 6-10 but measured, at 6-8¾ and 6-8½, respectively. Do you think Mike Dunleavy's going to be a 6-10 point guard in the NBA some day? If so, he's going to have to grow a couple of inches — the soon-to-be top five pick or senior topped out at 6-8 in socks. , listed at 7-0 at , measured at 6-10¾. Of course, the bottom line isn't the matter of a fudged inch or two or three — it's how well you can play, right? Frank Burlison can be reached at his email address: fburlison@foxsports.com.
  • Tagged: Memphis, Duke, Wagner, Fresno State

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