NBA Scout<br>Analyzes the Cowboys

John Shumate, a former NBA player and the former SMU coach, is now a scout for the NBA's Phoenix Suns. He attended the Cowboys' game against Washington State last Saturday night, and I had the privilege to sit next to him on press row. At halftime I asked him for a few minutes of his time, and he obliged. What follows is my conversation with Shumate.

Go Pokes: Are you here looking at one player or specific players tonight?
Shumate: I'm a college evaluator. It's not that you come and look at any one specific guy, but what we try to do is get an overview of the teams playing and to see what talent is here and what's available, and how well they've been evaluated. For example, we've heard reputations (on some of these players), so is it a true reputation? Is it a fair assessment? (We) try to narrow it down so that when it comes draft time, we know who we like and who we don't like.

Go Pokes: What do you think of John Lucas?
Shumate: He's like his dad. He shoots better than his dad (laughing). I played against his dad in the NBA. He's very talented. The negative is he's small. On our level, that counts as one point against him. But he's very talented, he's very smart and has a wonderful feel for the game. He's quick. He can really shoot and a lot of little guys can't shoot. He does everything. He's very, very, very, very good.

Go Pokes: How much will his size hurt his draft status?
Shumate: I can't say how much it's going to hurt him, but I know that a lot of people like bigger guards. Because in the NBA little, smaller guys get beat up. They have to defend, that's a negative as far as the defensive end; it's a negative as far as helping out rebounding. But then is he good enough at the other end to compensate for that, to say "You know what, I can live with his negatives because he's so good at the other end." That's what a person has to evaluate and determine for themselves.

Go Pokes: Although he only played sparingly because of foul trouble in the first half, what did you think of Joey Graham?
Shumate: He's very talented. The question for me with him is where will he play on the next level? He's 6-7, he's got the size, the body of a 2 (off guard) or 3 (small forward) guy, but does he create like a 2-3 guy? Can he shoot the ball? Can he put it on the floor and if he doesn't have his shot create something for someone else? Is he offensive minded? Can he defend? And he can defend. He works extremely hard on both ends of the floor. And he rebounds, that's a big plus. It's just does he have the offensive skills enough at that 2-3 spot to accommodate a team?

Go Pokes: Are there any other Oklahoma State players who impressed you?
Shumate: The kid (JamesOn) Curry has ... just the little bit I saw of him I think that he's a very talented young kid. He's quick. He's got a little pizzazz to him, and I think coach Sutton will take that out over time, and just kind of settle him down. He looks like he's very, very talented. I think he had committed to the University of North Carolina, and just the fact that he committed there, obviously he's a talented player, which he showed. He's very quick. It looks like he has nice rotation on the ball (when he shoots), and he can get into the lane. He's got a little bit of stuff to his game that I think he needs to get out so that he's all substance and not a lot of flash.

Go Pokes: What about Ivan McFarlin?
Shumate: Again, we're talking about size. He's basically a block guy, a 4-guy. But on our level, he would be considered on the small side and undersized. But then you need to decide, does he do the things he needs to do well enough that you can live with him being a little undersized? The one thing you know about all of coach Sutton's guys is that they play hard, they have such great attitudes out on the floor, they do all the things that you want a player at their respective positions to do. It's just for our level are they talented at those respective positions to warrant you spending the time or draft pick on you?

Go Pokes: Finally, what do you think of this OSU team?
Shumate: I just happened to come and see one of the great halves that they played. I've coached against coach Sutton, and he and James Dickey are good friends of mine. They play hard, like always; they defend greatly, like always. They rough you up, they are very physical. They execute. Coach Sutton is a great coach, and it shows tonight. I think that as wide as the lead is, it could probably have been a little wider.

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