Famutimi Rolls Dice In Draft Tonight

FAYETTEVILLE -- The cover of the latest ESPN The Magazine calls the 2005 NBA Draft a "crapshoot."

Former Razorback Olu Famutimi rolls this dice tonight, hoping for anything but snake-eyes along with dozens of other underclassman with questionable qualifications who make this draft one of the most bizarre ever.

Famutimi's declaration for the NBA Draft following his sophomore season was a head-scratcher on May 14 and his decision to leave his name in the draft pool last Tuesday was more than an eyebrow-raiser.

He was the team's fourth-leading scorer (9.4 points per game) last season who never lived up to his hype as a McDonald's All-American.

His decision to go for the pros surprised Arkansas coach Stan Heath, who said for the previous month he was almost positive Famutimi would return to school for his junior season.

Now Famutimi must hope he's one of the last 60 players drafted tonight and if not, begin pursuing free agent options, summer league ball or even shopping himself overseas.

Heath said Monday Famutimi had not yet signed with an agent.

Famutimi worked out for the Utah Jazz last Tuesday and the Atlanta Hawks later in the week. He's also worked out for the Los Angeles Clippers and the Phoenix Suns. Heath said he also believed Famutimi may have worked out for the Philadelphia 76ers.

"He said he had some good workouts for some teams who liked him," Heath said. "But nothing specific. He feels like there is some potential."

"Potential" is the word most used to describe Famutimi, a 6-foot-5 small forward who averaged 25 points and 14 rebounds as a senior in Flint, Mich., and entertained thoughts of going straight to the NBA out of high school before tearing his anterior cruciate ligament late in the season.

He played his freshman year and averaged 7.2 points per game but shot just 35 percent from the floor and had little of the explosiveness or aggression that made him a highly sought-after prospect.

His shooting, scoring and rebounding improved this season and he was making more than 40 percent of his 3-pointers for most of the season before slumping along with the rest of the Razorbacks as they finished 1-5 and Heath passed on a possible bid to the NIT citing emotional and physical weariness on his team.

While his shooting improved, he still was reluctant to take the ball to the basket and only dunked in fast break, alley-oop situations to give a glimpse of the athleticism for which he was known.

His ball-handling and passing didn't improve as he consistently settled for 3-pointers and had 10 assists in 17 Southeastern Conference games.

Famutimi hasn't been available for comment, but Heath has said Famutimi believes he must capitalize on his reputation from high school while he still can.

Junior Razorback captain Ronnie Brewer, a good friend and former roommate of Famutimi, said he knew he had things to work on in his game but preferred to improve them while pursuing the NBA instead of another year at Arkansas.

"He felt we were going to be good with or without him," Brewer said last week. "He didn't feel this was the best situation for him."

Famutimi isn't listed on many draft lists, wasn't invited to the NBA's Predraft Camp in Chicago and Heath said last week he hasn't heard from any teams interested in him.

Arkansas lost Al Jefferson before he ever enrolled at Fayetteville last summer when the Prentiss, Miss., forward declared for the draft and went with the 15th pick to the Boston Celtics, where he had a successful rookie season.

"I wasn't sure Al Jefferson was ready and he had a great rookie season.," Heath said. "I think (Famutimi's) got improvement to make. The word potential fits him. If some team looks at him as a guy down the road that can improve and get better, the possibility exists.

"But he's got work to do and one thing about him, he is a hard worker."

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