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Dudley out to disprove skeptics
by Marc Narducci / June 1, 2007

He is a high profile player who hasn’t been afraid to put his basketball reputation on the line at the NBA’s pre-draft camp at Disney’s Wide World of Sports. Then again Jared Dudley of Boston College really had no other choice.

Despite enjoying a decorated career that included being named the MVP of the Atlantic Coast Conference as a senior, Dudley has earned all the respect of a mid-major wannabe. So while many other players who he outperformed are sitting out this camp, Dudley continues to show that there should be a place for him in the NBA.

Listed at 6-foot-7, he is considered the classic tweener at the next level, not quite quick enough to play small forward and not big enough for the power forward spot. Yet Dudley is one of those players who produces. It might not always look conventional, but he’s not afraid to get floor burns and he goes after rebounds with typical ferocity. And now, Dudley is starting to become more comfortable with his jump shot.

In his second game at the pre-draft camp, Dudley scored 13 points and had eight rebounds in just over 19 minutes. He shot 5 for 7 from the field, added a steal and demonstrated his usual toughness inside. That was an improved performance over his first game, when he scored seven points on 2 of 3 shooting from the field. Dudley had just one rebound that first game, so he turned up the aggressive meter in his second outing.

Dudley knows that there are plenty of skeptics to win over and he’s up to the task of converting the doubters.

“I don’t get angry, but it’s sometimes frustrating that I have to keep proving myself,” Dudley said. “I’m probably the only player of the year who is out here.”

Dudley even knows the perceived weaknesses in his game.

“People say my weakness is my lateral quickness,” he said. “I have dropped 12 pounds and feel I am moving well.”

That would put Dudley at about 213 pounds and he never looked like he needed to lose weight even more he did. And he doesn’t buy the theory that a tweener can’t play in the NBA.

“I feel I can be a three who can rebound as well as a four,” he said. “I’ve improved my shooting and felt I shot the ball well this year.”

He also doesn’t have unrealistic NBA visions.

“I feel I could be a good role player in the league,” he said.

There will be individual workouts to further scrutinize his game. While Dudley doesn’t look like a sure thing, it probably wouldn’t be a bad idea to take a chance on him. Anybody with his heart, drive and determination, could find a place in the NBA. And he will continue to carry the giant chip on his shoulder in order to prove that his dominance in the high-powered ACC was no fluke.

Other observations from the pre-draft camp

- Wake Forest 6-11 center Kyle Visser, while not the most nimble player, showed good toughness and nice touch around the basket. He shot 5 for 5 from the field for 11 points, while adding four rebounds. It was an improved effort over his first game, where he scored seven points.

- A player who had a fine bounce-back game was Trey Johnson, a 6-5 shooting guard from Jackson State. After scoring four points in his first game (shooting 1 for 5), Johnson responded with a solid effort. He totaled a game-high 16 points (6 for 14 from the field) and scored in a variety of ways (long jumper off the dribble, pull-up 16-footer, driving layup in traffic). “I want to show that I’m versatile and not just a mid-major gunner,” said Johnson, who also took home the best quote of the day.

- After a subpar first game that included eight turnovers, Ohio State 6-4 freshman shooting guard Daequan Cook showed improvement. Cook had eight points (4 for 9 shooting) and didn’t turn the ball over in more than 19 minutes. Said one NBA executive, “He has first-round talent, but he has to show consistency.”

- For the second straight game, Syracuse 6-8 swingman Demetris Nichols shot the ball extremely well. Nichols scored 17 points, hitting 6 of 7 from the field and 3 of 4 from beyond the arc. In the two games, he has shot 13 of 16 from the field and 7 of 9 from three-point range. He’s been the MVP of the first two days.

- Pitt’s Aaron Gray has averaged 15.5 points in his first two games. When it was suggested that Gray isn’t as dominant as he should be, an NBA exec said, “It’s hard for anybody to dominate here. The players are in and out every five minutes.” Fair point, but it would still be risky to call him a sure-fire late first-rounder.

- DePaul 6-6 guard Sammy Mejia showed more aggressiveness offensively with 14 points (7 for 12 shooting).

- Marist 6-foot-2 point guard Jared Jordan is the best pure passer in this camp. Then again, this shouldn’t be surprising since he led the NCAA in assists, averaging 8.7. In his second game, he had eight points, seven assists and no turnovers. Jordan won’t blow by defenders, but he is one of the most intelligent guards not only in the camp, but in the draft class. It was a much better performance for Jordan, who had five assists and three turnovers in his first game and appeared to be forcing the issue. He is another player who should be in some NBA camp if he doesn’t get drafted.

- Arizona 6-3 point guard Mustafa Shakur might not excel at one thing, but he does a lot well. Shakur had 14 points (2 for 7 from the field, (2 for 7 from the field, 10 of 12 from the foul line) and added seven assists. He also was guilty of forcing passes, finishing with four turnovers. Shakur is a confident player. “My main goal was to run the team and I think I have been able to do that here,” Shakur said.

- Streak-shooting 6-4 Ohio State shooting guard Ron Lewis was off his mark. Lewis, who never lack confidence, hit just 3 of 14 shots while scoring nine points. He was 1 of 4 from beyond the arc. As a person who has made his share of big shots, Lewis has to shoot well to earn a spot in the NBA.

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

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