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Karl enjoys impressive debut
by Marc Narducci / May 31, 2007

The first game at this year’s NBA pre-draft camp provided a heartwarming story. Less than two months after undergoing a seven-hour operation to remove cancerous lymph nodes, 6-foot-5 Boise State guard Coby Karl was showcasing his ability to NBA scouts.

And there is plenty of ability, including a basketball IQ that is off the charts.

The son of Denver Nuggets coach George Karl ran the point, shot well, got plenty of teammates involved and showed no effects of two cancer operations over the past 14 months.

“It felt great to be out there,” Karl said after scoring 11 points, including 3 of 4 from beyond the arc as his Team 6 beat Team 5, 106-84.

What was most impressive about Karl is how quickly and accurately he shot the three-pointer. Karl releases his shot as quickly as anybody in the camp. He is also very skilled on the fast break, a master at making the long pass. It was no accident that he had six assists and just one turnover.

Coby Karl says that he was feeling good physically. While he is far from a sure bet to get drafted, there is no doubt that he deserves to be in some NBA camp. His father, beaming with pride, didn’t want to get too high over a truly impressive opening performance.

“I want him to understand this is the beginning of the process,” George Karl said. “If he has a good Orlando does that make him make the NBA? Hell no. If he has a bad Orlando that wouldn’t keep him out of the NBA.”

And if he continues to play like he did in his debut game?

“He has the intangibles of the game; the knack of getting the ball to the right people,” George Karl said. “He wants to make the team go more than being a one-on-one player and those things sometimes don’t come out when you throw 10 players on the court together. They came out a little today.”

More than a little.

Whether Coby Karl made the NBA or not, there is no denying that he had a strong debut that was as inspiring as it was impressive.

Other observations after the first day of games:

- Ohio State 6-4 freshman guard Daequan Cook, who hasn’t hired an agent, says he is likely to keep his name in the NBA draft. Players who don’t have an agent have until June 18 to pull out. “More than likely I will stay,” said Cook, who added that he had a workout scheduled with the Phoenix Suns next week. Cook had six points in his first game, shooting 3 for 10 and he was pressing, evidenced by his eight turnovers. Still, he is among the select few at the camp with potential first-round talent. “I see myself as a first-rounder,” he said.

- Maryland guard DJ Strawberry has a versatile game that includes everything but a reliable jump shot. For a shooting guard, that may not be the best situation. Strawberry had five points (2 for 7) three rebounds and four assists, while playing strong defense.

- Pitt 7-0 center Aaron Gray had 15 points and nine rebounds, but despite those solid statistics, wasn’t as dominating as a potential first round pick should be at this camp.

- Ryvon Covile, a 6-9, 250-pound center from Detroit Mercy showed strong play inside, a nice turnaround jumper and jump hook and ran the court extremely well. He finished with 19 points (8 for 11 shooting) and six rebounds.

- Syracuse 6-7 swingman Demetris Nichols, who averaged 18.9 points as a senior, demonstrated great long-range shooting. He was 7 for 9 from the field, including 4 of 5 from beyond the arc, and was hitting treys with a hand in his face. He also displayed quickness on defense.

- One of the quickest player was 5-11 Virginia junior Sean Singletary, who continually blew by defenders. Singletary shot just 3 for 10 from the field, but his perimeter game isn’t a concern. His size will work against him. Singletary hasn’t hired an agent and could still return for his senior year.

- Avis Wyatt, a 6-11 forward-center from Virginia State, had one of the best motors, continually beating his man down the floor. He also showed decent touch on his jumper and that he belonged with the players from much bigger schools. “It’s real special to compete against guys you see on TV,” he said. “I was told I would need to run the floor and play defense, and that is what I tried to do.”

- James Mays, a 6-9 junior from Clemson, who hasn’t hired an agent, was jumping out of the building, while also nailing short jumpers. He finished with 13 points (6 of 9 shooting) and nine rebounds.

- Another junior who hasn’t signed with an agent is 6-5 shooting guard Marcellus Kemp of Nevada. Kemp had 11 points (5 of 10 shooting) and was adept at the pull-up jumper. “I felt very comfortable out there,” he said.

- Florida point guard Taurean Green had a solid performance, with 11 points on 4 for 5 shooting, three assists and two turnovers.

- Arizona 6-3 senior Mustafa Shakur was matched against the 6-foot Green in an interesting battle. Shakur had 12 points (3 for 6 from the field, 6 for six from the line), 2 assists and two turnovers. “I wanted to work on my change of speed,” Shakur said. “One thing people wanted to see if I could defensively pressure smaller guards.”

Even in a weak year for point guards, it appears as if Shakur and Green will be second-round picks.

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

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