NCAA title game players headline NBA predraft camp Print
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Tuesday, 29 May 2007 19:34
NBA Headline News

 ORLANDO (STATS) - Even though Taurean Green played a big role in turning Joakim Noah, Al Horford and Corey Brewer into soon-to-be millionaires, his former Florida teammates won't be doing much to return the favor this week.
Not even when they finally get to Orlando, where the Gators point guard is doing his best to make a strong impression at the NBA predraft camp.
"I talk to those guys every other day," Green said of the trio that helped make him a two-time NCAA champion. "I mess around with them, saying, 'I'm out here working hard while you guys are sitting out, watching TV.' They're in a great situation. Unfortunately, I'm in a different situation."
While Green was among 62 NBA hopefuls who opened play at the camp Tuesday night, all projected lottery picks - including Noah, Horford and Brewer - stayed away and are unlikely to show up until Thursday to undergo physicals.
A who's who of the league was on hand at the camp's opening despite players only going through two hours of drills, though there was a bit of full-court competition. Among those in attendance were coaches Avery Johnson, Maurice Cheeks and Byron Scott, general managers Mitch Kupchak, Bryan Colangelo and Bernie Bickerstaff, and former players Moses Malone, Danny Manning and Popeye Jones.
They're all here to see if anyone on the floor is worthy enough to take a chance on with a draft pick.
Green hopes to show that he is. To have any shot at climbing into the first round - thus clinching a guaranteed contract worth millions - he will likely need to be a dominant figure this week. As good as he was as the floor general for a Florida team that won back-to-back titles, his decision to join his teammates in leaving school early has been questioned.
It made plenty of sense for Noah, Horford and Brewer, all of whom are expected to be lottery picks. Green, though, could fall deep into the second round.
First-day whispers at the camp from some league personnel included how Green might not be NBA-ready, and how he could have benefited from staying in school with a chance to emerge as a superstar for the Gators.
"I talked it over with coach (Billy) Donovan, talked it over with my family, we felt it was time to come out," said Green, who averaged 13.3 points as a sophomore and a junior, but saw his assist average dip by one to 3.7 last season.
"I can get guys the ball, get guys in their spots. ... People think I can't play defense, that's something I wanna come out here and prove. I can run a team, I'm a leader, I'm a winner. I'll do whatever it takes to get the win for any team."
Ohio State guard Ron Lewis finds himself in a somewhat similar situation.
Overshadowed all season by freshmen Greg Oden and Mike Conley Jr., who both will be in Orlando for their physicals Thursday, Lewis came alive in the NCAA tournament to solidify his status as a draft-worthy talent. Maybe no player in the tourney was better through the first four rounds as he averaged 21.7 points and made 12 3-pointers, including one with two seconds left that sent Ohio State's second-round game against Xavier to overtime.
But, at 6-foot-4, Lewis is a bit undersized for a shooting guard and can be a very streaky shooter. In fact, he is seen by many as the fourth-best pro prospect on that Buckeyes squad. Teammate Daquean Cook is also in Orlando, and is one of the highest-rated players in attendance.
Lewis got off to a shaky start, as he was off with his jumpers and often careless with the basketball. But he got better as the night wore on and feels confident going into the rest of the camp as scrimmage games become the focus.
team basketball.
"That's the way the team wins, that's the way you get noticed."
Others trying to get noticed include Boston College star Jared Dudley, who, as he noted, may be the only former player of the year from a major conference at the camp.
"I think this week is critical ... to kinda get my name out there," said Dudley, who may have a shot to climb into the first round. "In a way, I'm kind of playing with a chip on my shoulder, you know, having to come down here, so I'm hoping to show my talents."
One player to do just that on Day One was DaShaun Wood, a 5-foot-11 point guard from Wright State who will give himself a great shot at being drafted if his solid play keeps up.
Wood looked very smooth running the offense in drills Tuesday night, throwing crisp on-target passes and knocking down his fair share of outside shots. He averaged 19.6 points as a senior, including 27 in the Horizon League tournament title game to lead Wright State over a ranked Butler team.
Tuesday was only the beginning, however, of what should be a demanding week for Wood and so many players battling for a spot among the 60 to be selected on June 28 at Madison Square Garden.
"It's real physical out there, you can't come with jitters, it's only gonna make it worse," Wood said. "You gotta go out there real confident and try to make plays. ... Everybody's fighting for the same thing. You gotta treat each possession, each game, each practice like it's your last."
Because for many, come Friday it just might be.
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Justin Einhorn is a senior editor for STATS and will be in Orlando covering the NBA predraft camp all week. He can be reached at jeinhornstats.com.

 

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