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Despite no-shows, pre-draft camp still beneficial
by Marc Narducci / May 30, 2007

During the first night of the NBA pre-draft camp at the Disney Wide World of Sports Complex, the players ran drills and scrimmaged without keeping score. The next three days they will play for keeps. But even without and official score, the defensive intensity was first rate.

The offense?

That’s another question as playes consistently had trouble hitting open jump shots.

The buzz around the camp is that there is very little buzz, at least from the standpoint of attracting potential first-round picks.

A year ago just two players who attended the camp were selected in the first round: Renaldo Balkman, who went No. 20 to New York and Jordan Farmar, the 26th selection by the Los Angeles Lakers.

It appears as if there won’t be more than that number from this year’s camp.

The NBA decision-makers are resigned to the fact that any prospect who feels he will be a first-round pick is bypassing the camp. This year, a number of players who will end up in the second round also decided not to show up, probably because they have a higher opinion of their draft status than NBA general managers.

“We’re in an era where individual team workouts are the predominant tool for postseason evaluations,” Boston Celtics general manager Chris Wallace said. “That is the way it is and has been going on for a number of years and I don’t think anything will radically change that.”

Another NBA executive called this year’s pre-draft camp “a weak group. Too many players have decided not to come.”

Of course, the NBA had hoped for the opposite when it instituted a rule this season that teams couldn’t conduct individual workouts until June 5.

That hasn’t been a deterrent, especially since it gives teams enough time before the June 28 draft. Some teams might even conduct double-sessions, taking advantage of every last day.

So with that as a backdrop, those evaluating the talent realize that there will be few if any future stars but it is still a beneficial gathering.

This has been akin to Major League Baseball’s Winter Meetings. Virtually all the top NBA decision makers are here, including Michael Jordan, who is in charge of shaping the Charlotte Bobcats.

Teams will be talking to one another, setting the groundwork for what could be a busy draft day of trades.

“I think there will be a significant number of teams looking to make a deal,” Wallace said. “I wouldn’t be surprised to see things radically altered due to trades, the night of the draft.”

Even though they didn’t keep score on Tuesday, one person who stood out was somebody who is used to performing in big-game settings – point guard Taurean Green of two-time defending NCAA champion Florida..
While his three more publicized teammates – Al Horford, Joakim Noah and Corey Brewer – should be gone by the first 10 picks in the draft, there are many who questioned Green’s decision to bypass his senior season.

At Florida, his statistics weren’t overwhelming, although he did average 13.3 points in each of the last two seasons. As a junior, he averaged 3.7 assists and 2.7 turnovers, but he knew how to run a team and get everybody involved in the offense. For all its high-profile players, Florida truly played like a team and much of that success goes to Green, the floor general.

Green did the same thing in his first night at the pre-draft camp. He was in total control and looked the most relaxed of all the players on the court.

“I tried to run the team, get guys the ball and hit open jump shot and play defense,” Green said.

Most of all, he didn’t looked awed at being part of what could be an intimidating situation, with many of the NBA decision-makers in attendance.

“I think I show a lot of confidence and you can’t be scared,” Green said. “You can’t come here and be nervous and play. You have one shot . One shot and have to show your stuff.”

Green showed his in the first day.

Here is the list of participants in the pre-draft camp.

Mohamed Abukar, 6-10 F, San Diego State
Mario Boggan, 6-7 F. Oklahoma State
Craig Bradshaw, 6-10 F-C, Winthrop
Aaron Brooks, 6-0 G, Oregon
Bobby Brown, 6-1 G, Cal-State Fullerton
Russell Carter, 6-4 G, Notre Dame
Coleman Collins, 6-8 F, Virginia Tech
Daequan Cook, 6-4 G, Ohio State
Ryvon Covile, 6-9 C, Detroit-Mercy
Jermareo Davidson, 6-10 F, Alabama
Justin Doellman,, 6-9 F, Xavier
Zabian Dowdell, 6-2 G, Virginia Tech
Jared Dudley, 6-7 F, Boston College
Rashaun Freeman, 6-9 F, Massachusetts
Aaron Gray, 7-0 C, Pittsburgh
Caleb Green, 6-8 F, Oral Roberts
Taurean Green, 6-0 G, Florida
Brandon Heath, 6-3 G, San Diego State
Herbert Hill, 6-10 F, Providence
Quinton Hosley, 6-6 G-F, Fresno State
James Hughes, 6-11 F-C, Northern Illinois
Jeremy Hunt, 6-5 G, Memphis
Ekene Ibekwe, 6-8 F, Maryland
Dominic James, 5-11 G, Marquette
Trey Johnson, 6-5 G, Jackson State
Joseph Jones, 6-9 F, Texas A&M
Rashad Jones-Jennings, 6-8 F, Arkansas-Little-Rock
Jared Jordan, 6-2 G, Marist
Coby Karl, 6-5 G, Boise State
Antanas Kavaliauskas, 6-10 F, Texas A&M
Marcellus Kemp, 6-5 G, Nevada
Carl Landry, 6-7 F, Purdue
Stephane Lasme, 6-8 F, Massachusetts
Marko Lekic, 6-10 F-C, Vojvodina (Serbia)
Ron Lewis, 6-4 G, Ohio State
Cartier Martin, 6-8 G-F, Kansas State
James Mays, 6-9 F, Clemson
Dominic McGuire, 6-7 F, Fresno State
Sammy Mejia, 6-6 G-F, DePaul
Brad Newley, 6-6 G, Townsville Crocodiles (Australia)
Demetrius Nichols, 6-7 F, Syracuse
Ivan Radenovic, 6-10 F, Arizona
JR Reynolds, 6-2 G, Virginia
Chris Richard, 6-9 C, Florida
Dustin Salisbery, 6-5 G, Temple
Blake Schilb, 6-7 G, Loyola-Chicago
Renaldas Seibutis, 6-5 G, Maroussi (Greece)
Ramon Sessions, 6-3 G, Nevada
Mustafa Shakur, 6-3 G, Arizona
Sean Singletary, 5-11 G, Virginia
DJ Strawberry, 6-4 G, Maryland
Curtis Sumpter, 6-7 F, Villanova
Sun Yue, 6-9 G-F, Beijing Aoshen (ABA)
Jamaal Tatum, 6-2 G, Southern Illinois
Reyshawn Terry, 6-7 G, North Carolina
Anthony Tolliver, 6-9 F-C, Creighton
Ali Traore, 6-10 C, Le Havre (France)
Kyle Visser, 6-11 C, Wake Forest
Darryl Watkins, 6-11 C, Syracuse
Major Wingate, 6-10 F-C Tofas Bursa (Turkey)
DaShaun Wood, 5-11 G, Wright State
Avis Wyatt, 6-11 F, Virginia State

Marc Narducci covers the NBA for the Philadelphia Inquirer and is a regular contributor to HoopsHype.com

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