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Day 4

June 9, 2003 Columns No Comments

Chicago Pre-Draft Camp – Day 4 Dispatch

by Jed Tai

CHICAGO – On the fourth and last full day of the NBA Pre-Draft Camp in Chicago, the
action was still fast in furious as players tried their best to impress the
ones on hand in their last real opportunity to impress the scouts, coaches, and
general managers still in attendance.

While drills started off the day once again with more shooting practices and
scrimmages, it was the games that most of the personnel on hand were interested

In the first game, Team 3 built an early lead and never let up as they knocked
off a previously undefeated Team 2, 81-70. Jason Keep (San Diego) finished the
camp strong, posting up strong and picking up several garbage baskets in
scoring 15 points and grabbing seven rebounds. Stephane Pelle (Colorado) who
previously had been fairly anonymous during the camp, picked up a double-double
with his hustle, scoring 10 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. Hollis Price
(Oklahoma) found his previously unfound stroke from the outside by hitting
5-for-7 from the field for 11 points. Jameer Nelson (St. Joseph’s) completed
an outstanding camp where he now has the tough decision whether or not to stay
in the draft. Nelson shot 4-for-6 from the field in scoring eight points while
dishing out seven assists to only two turnovers. Keith Bogans (Kentucky)
didn’t shoot the ball as well as he has this week (3-for-9) but still had
another solid game with eight points and four rebounds.

Team 2 was led for the third straight game by Troy Bell (Boston College) with
17 points including a perfect 8-for-8 from the line, but only had two assists.
Rick Anderson (Arizona) found his touch, scoring 10 points while sinking two
threes. Uche Msonwu-Amadi (Wyoming) got extremely physical on the glass,
grabbing 14 boards (seven offensive) while also scoring six points. James
(Miami (FL)) may have only scored five points, but completed the camp
fully exhibiting a soft shooting touch from the outside. Travis Hansen
(Brigham Young) didn’t shoot so well – only 2-for-13 – but still worked hard in
other ways on the court, grabbing seven boards, dishing out three assists, and
grabbing three steals.

In the second game, Team 6 fought back from a four point halftime deficit to
surpass Team 1, 81-72, and finish the camp with a perfect 3-0 record. Jerry
(Minnesota) who had largely been invisible before, got plenty of touches
in the paint, shooting 7-for-11 from the field in scoring 15 points while
grabbing six rebounds and blocking two shots. Carl English (Hawaii) continued
to shoot well from the outside, hitting two threes and scoring 13 points.
Jermaine Boyette (Weber State) didn’t fare so well from the field (2-for-7),
but distributed the ball well (eight assists) and was a ballhawk on defense
(three steals) while also scoring 10 points. Ugonna Onyekwe (Pennsylvania) has
been one of the top athletes at the camp, and finally got some offense going,
scoring 7 points on 3-for-4 shooting.

For Team 1, Wayne Wallace (Virginia Union) continued to impress those who had
never heard of him before. Wallace posted a double-double of 14 points and 11
rebounds while blocking two shots. Doug Wrenn (Washington) finally scored his
first points of the camp, and did so in a big way, converting on 13 points.
Brandon Hunter (Ohio University) couldn’t quite convert on his strong drives to
the hoop, but still scored seven points and grabbed nine rebounds. Justin
(Florida), the ultimate team player all four years in college, was
unselfish to a fault as usual, dishing out seven assists against zero turnovers
without scoring a single point. Marquis Estill (Kentucky) showed some hustle
inside with six points and eight rebounds.

In the final game of the camp, Team 4 ran past Team 5, 102-85. Dahntay Jones
(Duke) led the way for Team 4 with 17 points, finally showing some outside
touch that had been missing earlier in the tournament. Matt Bonner (Florida)
didn’t hit any long range shots in this game, but played well, almost posting a
double-double with 14 points and nine rebounds. Will McDonald (South Florida)
was able to convert on some moves in the post in scoring 13 points and grabbing
eight boards. Marquis Daniels (Auburn), who once again played the point with
Brandin Knight out, had a good outing for the second straight night with 12
points and five assists. Josh Powell (North Carolina State) finally showed
some of the good play he had on the first day with nine points and seven
rebounds. Willie Green (Detroit) with 12 points, Matt Carroll (Notre Dame)
with 10 points rounded out the players who scored in double figures. James
(Central Park Christian (AL) HS) had been the team’s high scorer prior to
this game, but had a very quiet night with only two points and three rebounds.

Team 5 was paced by Aloysius Anagonye (Michigan State) who has never been known
for his offense, but battled hard underneath for 18 points on 7-for-9 shooting
and would have had more if it weren’t for 4-for-9 shooting from the line. He
also grabbed eight rebounds. Tommy Smith (Arizona State), he of the
inside-outside game that NBA teams like, had a solid game with 16 points and
five rebounds. Robert Jackson (Marquette) continued to impress, using the lane
as his personal playground, scoring 11 points on 5-for-7 shooting and grabbing
five boards. Michal Ignerski (Mississippi State) chipped in with nine points
and three rebounds.

With this game, the pre-draft camp concluded. A more detailed look at all the
players who participated will be upcoming.

But as good as all the games were, the biggest event of the day wasn’t at Moody
Bible Institute. It was the individual workout of 7-5 Pavel Podkolzine
(Italy-Russia) held in the early afternoon at a nearby health club. With about
a hundred onlookers present, including all the top general managers in the
league (Jerry West, Mitch Kupchak, Ernie Grunfeld – you name him, he was there)
– Podkolzine went through a series of drills to showcase his skills.

He definitely impressed.

The 18-year old Russian shot a variety of 12-15 foot jumpers, showed off some
post-up moves, and ran some full-court fast breaks, finishing with pull-ups and
alley-oop dunks. He showed good mobility – especially for a person his size _
strong moves in the paint, and a soft touch from the perimeter with a nice
looking shooting form. Unlike what you might expect from a person 7-5, he was
not a stick nor was he ploddingly slow. In many ways, his body and the way he
moved reminded this observer of a typical 6-7 European player — except
Podkolzine is almost a foot taller.

Prior to the pre-draft camp, there was discussion that Podkolzine was a
“possible” lottery pick. You can take that “possible” out of the equation now.
After the workout, the buzz was that Podkolzine was easily a Top Ten pick,
with a chance to be as high as the Top Five. Sure, the workout didn’t show
anything Podkolzine’s camp didn’t want people to see (i.e. he didn’t do any
drills involving lateral movement). But you can’t teach height, so be sure to
watch the wires closely what teams may consider drafting this center with
seemingly limitless potential.

(By the way, in case you were wondering, Podkolzine does know some English, but
it is limited. It seems he hears key words and makes assumptions on what the
question asks. For instance, he was asked once who was the best player he ever
played against. His answer? “Best Player? MJ of course!” When asked again,
he said “Best Player Now? Tracy McGrady”. No matter. He’ll let his play on
the floor do the talking.

After the Podkolzine workout, many of the onlookers took taxis to another
workout at another gym to check out Malick Badiane (Senegal-Germany) who, along
with Ryan Randle(Maryland), went through a series of drills. Badiane, who has
an impressive frame that could still get stronger, shot some jumpers, showed
off some post moves, and ran some fast break drills. The general consensus?
Badiane is still raw, but long and athletic. In fact, in many of the shooting
and post move drills, Randle arguably performed better. But Badiane has the
classic “upside” that NBA execs are looking for, so if he remains in the draft,
be sure that his name will be called on draft night.

On Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, the rest of the pre-draft camp will turn into
a combine, which will be closed to all media and regular NBA personnel. On
Saturday, a press conference will also be held for many of the top draft
prospects who were excused from participating from the pre-draft camp,
including Darko Milicic (Yugoslavia), T.J. Ford (Texas), and Chris Bosh
(Georgia Tech). A separate press conference will be held for LeBron James (St.
Vincent-St. Mary (OH) HS) on Sunday. Before you go jumping to any conclusions,
the reason James will be having a separate conference is that he will be
missing the regular Saturday press conference. Why? He’s graduating from high
school on Saturday.

Note: Attendance on Friday was much more sparse than it had been on previous
days. Although the camp is only four days, it’s a long and full four days and
no doubt many NBA executives were tired and wanted to fly back home. A number
probably also headed down to San Antonio to join the NBA Finals party.
Nevertheless, those who did stay got a treat with the Podkolzine workout and
the last three games of camp.


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