Burlison on the NBA Camp

Apparently some players didn't buy into the concept that a good way to demonstrate you should be a first-round NBA draft selection is to play in front of 300 or so NBA employees for four days in Orlando. Also, was Jordan Farmar the best player at the camp?

I wonder how many first-round wannabes who end up as late second-round choices – or, gasp, not selected at all – on June 28, will kick themselves, and/or their inner-circle of advisors, for not accepting an invitation to play in the NBA Pre-Draft Camp in Orlando?

 

I can understand passing on the opportunity to play in front of 300 or so representatives of NBA teams for four days if your name is LaMarcus Aldridge, Tyrus Thomas, Brandon Roy, Marcus Williams, Randy Foye, Shelden Williams, Rudy Gay, Adam Morrison or J.J. Redick.

 

They're locked and loaded as lottery (top 14) selections on draft night, with only the approximate moment they're shaking hands with David Stern still to be determined over the course of some "individual" workouts and some head-scratching by NBA decision makers.

 

And if you've received a "guarantee" by a general manager for his team's spot in the first round and you've got representation with the kind of juice who can make that promise stick, I can understand why you might have gone ahead and said "thanks, but no thanks" when the NBA came calling.

 

But if no one who has his paychecks signed by any of the 30 NBA CEOs has told you in convincing terms that you're going to be tabbed in the first round – and your health is of the tip top variety – what is to lose by demonstrating, in 5-on-5 conditions that the NBA doesn't permit its teams during "individual" workouts, to the gathered masses that you're first-round worthy?

 

There I go being logical again . . .

 

BOUNCING AROUND THE COUNTRY:

*The prevailing opinion of NBA-employed decision makers (or decision shapers) on hand in Orlando is that the two players who did the most to help their professional stock were UNLV forward Louis Amundson and Rice swingman Morris Almond.

 

The 6-foot-8 Amundson went into the Pre-Draft Camp more as "a guy we might want to play on our summer team" than "a guy we might want to draft in the second round" by NBA types.

 

After his high-energy, high-flying performance over four days in Florida, Amundson seems firmly planted in the latter category.

 

The 6-6 Almond led Conference USA in scoring (21.9 points per game) last season as a junior and had already generated a nice buzz based on his performances in several workouts prior to arriving in Orlando.

 

His ability to score with relative ease (without "hunting" too many shots) over four days and his prototypical shooting-guard dimensions impressed most everyone.

 

"I don't think he'd be a first-round pick (on June 28), so it would be best for him to go back to school (for his senior season)," said a Director of Scouting for a franchise in the Western Conference.

 

"But he's now a guy that everyone will go out of their way to see a lot next season. He'll be looked upon as a possible first-round pick (in 2007)."

 

If he returns to Rice, Almond will be rated a lot higher up on the list of the nation's top shooting guards in all of the preseason magazines than he would have if he hadn't made the trek to Orlando.

 

And, oh, yeah: The Owls (12-16) would make a lot more impact on the Conference USA race with Almond still around, as well.

 

*The Friday announcement that 6-11 Nick Fazekas would return to Nevada for his senior season had been anticipated by NBA scouts for a couple of weeks.

 

He couldn't land the first-round "guarantee" that he and his family sought as a condition for keeping his name in the draft pool.

 

His return keeps Mark Fox's program in solid shape for another Western Athletic Conference title and a fourth consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament next March.

 

*Not surprisingly, sophomores Jordan Farmar (UCLA) and Darius Washington (Memphis) were the consensus choices as the two best point guard prospects in Orlando.

 

Farmar didn't jump shoot nearly as well as some had anticipated he would (they should have checked his .411, overall, and .333, on 3's, shooting percentages from last season beforehand) and left town with his NBA stock about the same as it was before he left Southern California: He's a "fringe-first rounder".

 

He isn't expected to receive the first-round assurances from a team that he said he would need, upon declaring for the draft, in order to keep his name in the draft pool beyond the June 18 deadline to withdraw and return to college.

 

Washington seemed to embrace more of a "true" point-guard's role in Orlando than he had demonstrated through the high school traveling team and camp circuit, and in two seasons at Memphis.

 

He was looked upon as a "fringe second round-type" before last week but seemed to do enough to convince someone to pick him in the second round. He is considered more likely than Farmar to bypass his junior season.

 

*The University of Connecticut coaching staff and players are going to have to spend a lot of the summer and fall just getting to recognize one another.

 

With 6-8 forward Gavin Edwards (Gilbert, Ariz.) signing scholarship papers with the program last week, the Huskies freshman class now numbers eight.

 

And, of course, there is expected to be another "newcomer" on Coach Jim Calhoun's roster in the person of guard A.J. Price, sidelined for health reasons as a freshman and for disciplinary issues last season.

 

The hunch here is that Calhoun's next team will exceed expectations to the same degree that his most recent one failed to perform as well as it had been anticipated to do.



 

Inducted into the USBWA Hall of Fame in April, 2005, Frank Burlison is Scout.com's national basketball expert and is also a columnist for the Long Beach (Calif.) Press-Telegram. He can be reached at frank.burlison@presstelegram.com. Read more of Burlison's pieces at www.frankhoops.com


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