Prospects work out for Pacers
Ekpe Udoh of Baylor and Hassan Whiteside of Marshall are hearing similar messages from their critics: get stronger and show more offensive skill.
Even if they don't, both slender, athletic post players stand a good chance of being taken in the first round of the NBA draft June 24 because of their potential. How highly they are selected might depend on how much growth they show during pre-draft workouts.
Udoh and Whiteside joined Derrick Caracter (UTEP), Daniel Orton (Kentucky), Lance Stephenson (Cincinnati) and Chris Kramer (Purdue) in a workout for the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday.
Whiteside, who led the nation in blocked shots as a freshman before declaring for the draft, helped Marshall finish with a 24-10 record last season. He plans to work out for the teams selecting between No. 4 and No. 13. The Pacers are slotted to pick 10th.
Udoh set the Big 12 single-season record for blocks and helped the Bears reach the Elite Eight in the NCAA tournament last season.
Whiteside and Udoh often were matched up during 3-on-3 play Tuesday. Udoh had the most impressive finish, a two-handed power jam that got praise from other players. Whiteside's length and ability to rise above the competition stood out.
Whiteside averaged 13.1 points, 7.2 rebounds and 5.4 blocks last season. He wants to show that he's more than a dynamic weakside defender.
``I just really want to show that I'm physical, that I can play against bigger guys,'' he said. ``I'm a slimmer guy. I'm more than just a defensive player. I'm an all-around player. I can rebound and score.''
Whiteside showed touch near the basket on Tuesday and stepped out beyond the top of the key to swish a jumper.
``I'm just bringing bigger guys away from the post, pick and pop, just showing my all-around game, showing I can play the four, a little bit of the five,'' he said.
Whiteside said he was 205 pounds when he started school at Marshall, but now is 230 after losing 10 pounds while conditioning during draft preparation. He says putting the weight back on won't be a problem for him.
Udoh, a 6-10 center, averaged 13.9 points, 9.8 rebounds and 3.7 blocks in one season with the Bears. He believes he's made the necessary adjustments to be ready for the NBA.
``I'm versatile,'' he said. ``Ballhandling and passing are what I've really worked on. I think I can come in and do that as well. But I want to come in and be a terror on defense, first.''
Udoh played two years at Michigan before sitting out a year after transferring.
``After going through a tough year, I just thought it better suited for me to part ways with Michigan,'' he said. ``Baylor chose me and it paid off.''
Udoh said his postseason play helped draw attention. He had 18 points, 10 rebounds, six assists and five blocks in a regional final loss to Duke.
``I think it helped it enormously,'' he said. ``Allowing a lot of people to watch the game on that stage was a plus.''
Udoh, who said he weighs 237 pounds, knows he needs to bulk up to take his stock a step further.
``They probably know as well as anybody that as soon as I get picked, and even now, I've got to work hard in the weight room.''
Whiteside was impressed with Udoh.
``He's pretty good,'' Whiteside said. ``I can see why they put him in the lottery.''