Draft status, an early look

Good news for Rick Anderson and the rest of the Arizona draft hopefuls. Anderson, along with Luke Walton, Jason Gardner and Ndudi Ebi, are among the 129 players featured in the NBA Draft Media Guide. It is still early, but here are some draft projections for the players with Arizona ties.

A lot more will be revealed after the Chicago Pre-Draft camp and individual workouts, but already there is plenty known about these players. The prospects are already starting to fit into a slot.

The Draft Guide is a good guess at who will likely be drafted, but isn't a surefire list of prospects. Players like Jamison Brewer, Maurice Jeffers and Mario Kasun have all been selected without being in the guide. The fact that Anderson and Gardener are in the Draft Guide are encouraging signs, but of the 129 players listed, just 58 players will be selected.

Anderson has the toughest road. While the 6-9 forward played well at Portsmouth, he didn't do enough to show that he isn't a "tweener". Anderson still lacks the bulk to play the four in the NBA, but doesn't have the quickness to be an NBA three. Scouts like the fact he can play both positions, but are worried about whether he can do either effectively.

Anderson has already hired an agent that has a lot of ties overseas, and that appears to be his most likely destination. Anderson will probably not be drafted, but should get a shot in the summer pro league he could get chance at getting an invite to an NBA camp.

The NBA people we talked to indicated his best chance is to make an impression now and go overseas to further develop his game and size. At 6-9, with a good outside shot, Anderson could still become a legitimate power forward. At this time being drafted looks like a longshot.

NBA people are mixed on Jason Gardner. Some feel with a good showing in Chicago he could sneak into the second round. Others feel that no matter what he won't be picked because of his size.

The NBA is getting away from traditional, smaller point guards. Teams either want to go without a true point guard or go with a bigger point guard in the Jason Kidd mold. At 5-10, Gardner has a lot to prove.

One knock on Gardner is that he is not a consistent scorer. Despite leading the Cats in scoring the past two seasons, scouts question whether he can get his shot off against the bigger NBA guards. They also worry about his streakiness, which was apparent all season. Defense is another big question. Despite being a very quick player, Gardner has never been aa standout defender.

However, Gardner is a great leader, tenacious competitor and as tough as they come. His quickness and experience will also get him a look. Chris Monter of the Monter Draft Report does not have him among the top point guards in the draft, but one expert feels Gardner has the makeup to be a great backup point guard.

Gardner will have to do a lot to move into the draft. He has to excel at Chicago and wow somebody when he visits teams. More than likely Gardner will go undrafted, but get a shot in the preseason to make a squad.

Of the three seniors, Luke Walton has the best shot of being drafted. Walton has impressed scouts with his versatility and uncanny floor sense, but like Anderson, he is seen as a bit of a tweener. He's better suited on the perimeter, but his quickness is a question. He has also battled injuries most of his Wildcat career. His father's history of injuries has not helped the situation much either.

NBA people are torn over where Walton could go. Some feel a good team will snag him late in the first, while some feel he is destined to be a late second-round selection. All agree that Chicago will be vital for him. If he can show he is injury free and that his shot is consistent, then he could move up. If the offense is off and the ankle still hampers him, then he could find himself waiting around on draft day.

Odds are Walton will be on an NBA roster next year. His versatility and pedigree will certainly be intriguing to a lot of teams, especially a successful team looking for a solid role player.

The player with the best chance of being drafted hasn't even donned a Wildcat uniform yet. High schooler Ndudi Ebi seems like a lock to be picked and with a great workout could find himself in the Lottery. As of now most NBA observers feel he is a fringe first rounder and more likely a second rounder. NBA GMs have soured a bit on high schoolers, but the success of Amare Stoudemire last season may have owners once again looking for prep help.

In Chicago Ebi has to prove he has a position and that he is not too thin for the NBA. The pros covet height and at 6-9, with great instincts, Ebi has people intrigued. Most likely he projects as an NBA three down the line and his draft status depends a lot on how long a team may be willing to wait for him to develop.

Ebi still has until June to decide whether he will remain in the draft or enroll at Arizona.

A former Cat could also hear his name called. Ruben Douglas, who transferred to New Mexico, is also a fringe second rounder.

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