Draft Day For Hodge

Last year, Julius Hodge decided to not enter the NBA Draft and instead return to NC State for his senior season. Tonight he will begin his professional career as Hodge is expected to be selected in the first round of the 2005 NBA Draft.

Last year, Julius Hodge decided to not enter the NBA Draft and instead return to NC State for his senior season. Tonight he will begin his professional career as Hodge is expected to be selected in the first round of the 2005 NBA Draft.

Hodge has seen his draft stock rise this spring after turning in several outstanding workouts for NBA teams. Following his senior season, the 6-foot-7, 205-pound guard was considered a mid-to-late second-round pick, but he now projects as a first-round selection with most mock drafts having him being chosen between 17-30.

Last month Pack Pride did an exclusive interview with Hodge and he talked openly about the draft process.

"It's definitely been a great experience so far," Hodge told Pack Pride. "I've been fortunate to have great workouts at the present time, and hopefully I'll continue to do so. It's just been a dream come true because it's what I've put all this hard work in for, and I want to continue working hard up until the final day."

When asked what teams he would prefer to be selected by, Hodge didn't want to say too much but he did suggest a couple of pro teams that had caught his attention.

"Every coach wants a guy who plays with passion, is a winner and refuses to lose," Hodge said. "I play hard and left a good impression everywhere I went so it doesn't matter to me. Any team would be great, the Knicks would be a dream, but an organization like Indiana would be great to play for too.

"I just hope to have the opportunity to play in the NBA because that's always been a dream of mine."

After tonight, Hodge will know where his professional career begins. He could end up a Memphis Grizzlie, as reports suggest Memphis GM Jerry West is intrigued by his versatility. Maybe the Pacers choose him with the No. 17 pick, team President Larry Bird did attend a number of Wolfpack games last season. Some scouts are saying he won't get past the Denver Nuggets, who own the No. 20 and No. 22 picks respectively. Hodge might be a Detroit Piston after tonight or a Seattle Supersonic. Don't forget the New York Knicks own the final pick in the first round, the No. 30 selection. Hodge, who grew up in the Bronx and always dreamed of being a Knick, might not be available at that time but if he is it would be tough for the Knicks to not select the former Wolfpack star.

However, should Hodge slip into the second round of tonight's draft, his contract would not be guaranteed and he will have to compete for a spot on that team's roster. Only 15 of last year's 30 second-round picks made an NBA team and just 15 of the 29 second-round picks from the 2002 draft have ever played a minute in the league, according to Chris Monter of Monter Draft News.

The two-round draft begins at 7:30 p.m. EDT at the Theater at Madison Square Garden and is televised on ESPN.


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