Where Will They Go?

If you're like me, you've been browsing around the internet the past several weeks taking a look at various predictions for this Wednesday's NBA Draft. While nobody knows for sure where Mountaineer stars Mike Gansey and Kevin Pittsnogle will end up, I'll go out on a limb and make those predictions.

Let's take a look at Gansey first. When Gansey was leaving high school five years ago, you'd be hard pressed to find anyone who thought his name would someday be part of a conversation about the NBA Draft. That, in and of itself, is a testament to the work ethic displayed by the Olmstead Falls, Oh. native.

Gansey has drawn comparisons to former Utah Jazz guard Jeff Hornacek because of his outside shooting ability, and all out hustle. He's also been compared to current NBA veteran Jon Barry in that regard. The good news for Gansey is both of those players had/have had long, and relatively successful careers.

His ability to rebound the ball, particularly in traffic, is a testament to his "leave it all on the floor" mentality. In an interview I conducted with Celtics GM Chris Wallace in February, he raved about Gansey's "it" factor for coming up big.

All of these are reasons why Mike will hear his name called on Wednesday night, but there are some questions as well. What position will he play? Can he keep his legs for an 82 game season? The recent news that Mike sprained an ankle while working out and thus will not workout again before the draft won't hurt his draft stock, but it won't help it either.

Gansey will fit best with an NBA team that runs a structured, more deliberate offense. He's at his best when he spots up, and has others to create his shot for him. His ability to provide energy on both ends of the court will be a big plus for whichever team gets him.

The prediction: 2nd round, 45th pick overall to the Indiana Pacers.


Pittsnogle, like Gansey, has come a long way since his freshman season. The Martinsburg native came to WVU with many people questioning whether or not he could even play in the Big East. Those same people held their breath after last season when Pittsnogle declared himself eligible for the NBA Draft, but ultimately came back to WVU for his senior season and again led the Mountaineers to the NCAA Tournament.

Some say that Kevin isn't fit for the NBA because he's "just a shooter." What they fail to mention is that his overall game has improved every year, and that physically he is much stronger than he was even last year. They also knock his "lack of inside scoring presence" while again leaving out that the NBA isn't exactly filled with inside players who are bringing back memories of Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, or even Shaq in his prime. Kevin's inside game developed to the point this year where when his outside shots weren't falling, he could go down low and still get his points. While he wasn't putting up breathtaking numbers in the paint, he did improve that facet of his game by leaps and bounds in just a year.

His passing ability, especially given his size, is also a big plus. He'll create matchup problems on the perimeter by making opponents respect his shot, but also respect his ability to find open teammates.

His weakness is still his defensive ability in the post. That, just like his inside game, has improved over time, but he must continue to improve his defense if he wants to stick in the NBA for a long time. He'll come into the NBA as "instant offense" off the bench. How long he stays depends on the other end of the court.

Pittsnogle would fit best with a team in which everyone on the floor is a threat to score. He won't have to carry the load, but he will be expected to make a couple of shots. A team with a great point guard, and a good supporting cast would be the ideal situation for Kevin, and adding him to a team like that would improve that team as well.

The prediction: 1st round, 27th pick, Phoenix Suns.

So there you have it. Maybe Wednesday night will roll around and I'll be completely wrong. Maybe I'll hit them both on the head. Maybe I'll get one right and one wrong. Really, who knows? The only thing I know for sure is that this coming week will be very special for two former Mountaineers, and as a result, special for the program.

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