NOEL RUNS, JUMPS TO NUMBER 1
* ... He's not faster than a speeding bullet, he might not be more powerful than a locomotive and maybe he's not able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. But high-flying North Carolina senior David Noel had a super performance working out for the NBA about 10 days ago and was rated as the top athlete among the 81 players there based on the athletic drills used at the NBA Pre-Draft Camp in suburban Orlando, Fla.
Noel showed up at 6-6 (with sneakers on; 6-4.5 w/out), 223 pounds and 6.1 percent body fat. In five "Athleticism Tests" the NBA puts draft prospects through, Noel logged a high-score of 310.7689 that was 21.4667 better than runner-up Ronnie Brewer (Arkansas). Running, jumping and agility were tested by measuring vertical jumps (no-step and maximum), counting bench presses of 185 pounds and timing of lane agility drills and 3/4-court sprints.
Noel jumped 34.5" and 38.5" for fourth and ninth. He pressed 185 pounds 20 times for sixth-best, his lane drill of 10.54 put him in fourth-place and he sprinted in 3.07 seconds to miss first-place by one-hundreth of a second (.01) to Rodney Carney (Memphis).
Opinions vary on what purpose the testing serves in evaluating players. The test was reportedly designed to evaluate how difficult it might be for a college player to transition to the NBA style of play. An NBA scout quoted by DraftExpress.com stated, "It's not really something we take into our war room and make decisions off of. It's more something to use as another small part of the complicated puzzle that ends up telling [us] what we'd hope is the entire picture."
* ... Chris Ekstrand, basketball writer and former NBA Draft Guide editor, covered the Orlando camp for SI.com and told Inside Carolina that Noel "played competently" at camp, but "did not stand out as much as he did" at Portsmouth, Va.
"I don't expect him to be drafted, but that doesn't mean he can't make a team," Ekstrand commented to IC on Noel. "Also, I could be wrong and someone could draft him in the second-round. He's a great athlete, so you never know."
Basketball writer Frank Burlison of the Long Beach Press Telegram passed along via e-mail to IC the following: "Not a lot of "buzz" about Noel. He's looked upon as a tweener, although they love his athletic ability. My guess is he doesn't get drafted (maybe late), but gets a lot of summer-team invitations."
Eckstrand also added, "So many teams are using their second-round picks to take either Europeans they can keep in Europe for a few years (and retain their rights) or on big guys they can develop by using the D-League. Medium-sized players who are not outstanding scorers are one category of player that often gets overlooked in the second-round."
Noel in Orlando: 3 games (2-1), 58 minutes, 8-16 FG, 2-4 FT, 18 points, 7 rebounds, 11 assists, 2 steals, 7 turnovers
* ... As the build-up continues torward the 2006 NBA Draft on June 28, the Green Bay Press-Gazette reports that Noel is among seven players that will workout for the Milwaukee Bucks this week.
Noel will be in Milwaukee on Tuesday with Indiana's Marco Killingsworth and Nevada-Las Vegas' Louis Amundson. The Bucks only have a second-round pick on draft day, No. 39 overall.
JORDAN JOINS BOB'S 'CATS
* ... After becoming the second-largest individual shareholder of the Charlotte Bobcats last week, Michael Jordan is back in the NBA as a co-owner and was named the managing member of basketball operations of the team.
Jordan's first bit of business will be getting ready for the June 28 NBA Draft with head coach and general manager Bernie Bickerstaff.
"When I put Michael and Bernie together, they got into it right away. Over the next several days, Bernie will be doing a download on Michael of all the intelligence that he's gathered about what the team needs, what the pick situation looks like, what has been the result of the workouts they've had, any possible trade deals lurking out there – they're into it now," stated majority-owner Bob Johnson on Jordan's role in the upcoming draft process.
"Michael has a tremendous amount of confidence in Bernie's insight, and Bernie has a lot of confidence in the advice Michael is going to bring to him. Absolutely, he is going to be fully briefed and ready to aid Bernie in making the best decisions possible when it comes to the draft."
Jordan is also an investor in deals outside of basketball with Johnson's RLJ Companies, a company that invests in hotel real estate, private equity, a hedge fund venture, a number of operations in the Caribbean involved in video gaming and a possible business investment in Charlotte, called Rollover Systems.
"I'm excited to join Bob, and invest alongside one of the most astute businessmen I know," Jordan said in a statement, according to Associated Press. "I am also looking forward to providing my advice, where needed, to Bobcats management in order to put the best possible team on the court."
GEORGIA OPTIMISTIC ABOUT WILLIAMS
* ... Basketball fans in the Republic of Georgia are expected to be optimistic about their country's EuroBasket Division B Qualifying Round schedule in September, according to PA Sport at fibaeurope.com. Afterall, Zaza Pachulia of the Atlanta Hawks is one of two current NBA players from Georgia on the national team roster. Nikolas Tskitishvili of the Phoenix Suns is the other.
And then there's also NBA and now international veteran Shammond Williams. Pachulia and Williams become good friends while playing for Orlando in the NBA.
That led to Williams being considered for addition to the national team of Georgia, a former Soviet republic with a population of just over 4.5 million people.
"In Georgia, we didn't have playmakers, they were either too young or too old," Georgian Basketball Federation General Secretary Merab Ratishvili explained to PA Sport. "We started thinking about adding players according to FIBA Europe and Georgia basketball regulations."
Williams, the point guard for Winterthur FC Barcelona in Spain in 2005-06 after playing the previous season in Russia, seemed to be a good fit, so the Georgian Basketball Federation worked with a Parliament member in the drafting of a letter for Georgian President Saakashvili.
President Mikheil Saakashvili then became directly involved in providing the required dual citizenship to Williams.
"President Saakashvili had only one question and that was 'Is this player good?'" said Ratishvili. The answer has proven to be a resounding yes as Williams' first game with the national team indicated.
Georgia was playing against Russia in a nationally televised friendly game in Italy and Williams scored 25 points to the delight of Georgian fans. "Immediately after that, he became a crowd favorite," recalled Ratishvili.
Williams and Team Georgia fell short in Division B qualifying games in 2005, finishing with a record of 4-2 and in second-place in their group. "We didn't have our entire unit for the entire summer training, including the NBA players," said Ratishvili.
"It wasn't good for our team cohesion that we were practicing with one group of players and then when games started, a completely new unit was in."
But this summer could be different as the complete roster is scheduled to take part in training in August well before Georgia's Division B games begin in September. "We think that could make a difference," said Ratishvili. "Our goal this year is to reach Division A and then to eventually play in Poland for EuroBasket 2009."
If it happens, chalk up assists to the point guard from North Carolina and to the country's head of state who helped bring in the playmaker.
MCCANTS MAKES CHARITY APPEARANCE
* ... The Orange County Register noted the appearance of former Tar Heel star Rashad McCants last week at the 21st Sports Spectacular dinner and silent auction to benefit the Cedars-Sinai Medical Genetics Institute that diagnoses, prevents and treats children with birth defects. The charity event was held at the Century Plaza Hyatt Regency in Century City, California.
It was a humbling exercise for the athletes making the trip down the 50-yard stretch of plush red carpet, the story goes. The pen-waving autograph seekers competed for spots along the velvet ropes. The showbiz-familiar photographers addressed the athletes with questions from behind a barricade. The most popular question being -- "What's your name?"
"I'm Rashad McCants. M-C-C-A-N-T-S!" the Minnesota Timberwolves guard said to the E! entertainment channel reporter, according to the O.C. Register gossip columnist.
Former Atlanta Falcons running back Jamal Anderson ("Me? I'm Jamal. Ja-mal. AN-DER-SON!") and Los Angeles Lakers rookie Devin Green ("Devin Green. With the Lakers. I'm a rookie. In the NBA. Basketball.") were also included in the article as athletes that went unrecognized amongst the big-name Hollywood celebs.