Duke’s Irving skipping on-court tests at combine

Duke point guard Kyrie Irving brushes off suggestions that he

might be the Cleveland Cavaliers’ latest savior.

The consensus No. 1 prospect in next month’s NBA draft is aware

of comparisons with LeBron James, whose controversial departure

last year for the Miami Heat sent the Cavs into a tailspin.

”The comparisons will come regardless,” said Irving, who

played 11 games as a Duke freshman and then declared for the 2011

draft. ”That’s something I’m prepared for. As for right now, I

just want to contribute to whatever team I go to.”

Cleveland, which had the NBA’s top record in 2010 and

second-worst mark this year, gets the first shot at Irving in the

June 23 draft after winning the No. 1 pick in Tuesday’s NBA

lottery.

Ironically, it’s James who has served as Irving’s role

model.

”He’s definitely filling like a big brother role in my life,

just giving me advice,” Irving said. ”When I was going through

the three-month stretch when I was hurt he was talking to me every

single week telling me to keep the faith. That was really special

to me to have someone in the NBA already giving me advice – what

things to do and what not to do.”

Irving was in Chicago on Thursday for the NBA Combine. He will

have pre-draft medical evaluations but won’t participate in

closed-door drills.

”I’m just going doing medical here – MRI and I did height and

weight today,” Irving said. ”I’m still working out around here

(privately) but I’m not doing anything at the combine.”

Irving, who averaged 17.5 points in an abbreviated Blue Devils

season, missed 26 games with a toe injury.

”It was a trying part of my life,” he said. ”I’ve never been

through something like that, never had an injury like that. It was

a learning experience and I’m glad I moved on from that.”

He returned in time for the NCAA tournament and played in three

games as the Blue Devils reached the Sweet 16.

”The foot’s good,” he said. ”I’m 100 percent healthy. It was

a more serious case of turf toe. I tore some ligaments in my toe

and we cast it for three months.

”I have to wear a protective shank in my shoe at all times, but

that’s the only thing. It’s not a hindrance at all. It’s just a

precaution.”

Irving said he wouldn’t have entered the draft if his recovery

wasn’t complete.

”I truly believe I wouldn’t have come out if I only played

eight games,” he said. ”I came back for the NCAA tournament

(because) one, I was ready and two, I just wanted to stop all the

questions whether I was healthy and whether this toe injury was

going to be a lingering effect on my career.”

Irving has been working out for two hours every day and is

focused on ”getting in the best shape possible,” agent Jeffrey

Weschler said.” He’s looking forward to visiting teams before the

June 23 draft.

The two-day combine concludes on Friday.

AP Sports Writer Tom Withers in Cleveland and AP freelance

writer Jack McCarthy in Chicago contributed to this report.