Several Players Looking to Improve Draft Stock at Chicago
By Justin Young
Every year during the Pre Draft Camp at Moody Bible College a handful of players improve their stock. Some improve it so much, they find themselves in the lottery. Here is a look at the potential draft day newsmakers.
Brian Brown, Ohio State - At worst, Brown could play himself into a free agent or a training camp invitee. He has worked out with Denver.
Udonis Haslem, Florida - Haslem has a lot to prove to the NBA since skipping on Portsmouth. His long arms and knack for the rebound will be his best asset. Danny Fortson has a job because of that. Haslem could be a bargain in the second round.
Jason Jennings, Arkansas State - Jennings controls his own destiny. With fellow Sun Belt player Chris Marcus returning to school, Jennings finds himself higher on the depth charts at the center position. He will need to show his athleticism that he displayed while working out for Memphis. If so, he could be somewhere in mid first round. Centers tend to jump the most after these types of workouts.
Aaron McGhee, Oklahoma - If he can continue the success he had at Portsmouth, McGhee could find himself in the mid to upper second round. He isn’t as tall as typical power forwards but he has heart, good defense and nice range on his shot.
Smush Parker, Fordham - If he can prove he isn’t all playground and can actually run a NBA team, Parker’s stock will rise dramatically. Teams either love him or hate him. He needs to make teams become believers. Jamal Tinsley has transformed the Rucker park game into a true floor leader. Hopefully Parker took notice.
Rolan Roberts, Southern Illinois - Roberts is another Portsmouth stud, a 6-6 power forward stud. He has nice hops and an aggressive game. But his size will make people think twice. Think Malik Rose.
J.R. Bremer, St. Bonaventure - Bremer, the big time scoring combo guard, is hot. During his senior campaign he lit it up. He averaged 24.6 points per game. He can penetrate, he’s aggressive, he can see the floor. Plus he always played big against bigger opponents. Bremer has impressed every team he was worked out for so far. Those teams are Chicago, Memphis, Washington and Miami. All of those teams would take him high in the second round. But if he can put together a very solid Chicago performance, we could be talking about a first rounder here.
Chris Christopherson, Oregon - What you see is what you get with Christopherson. He is an unathletic big man. That’s about it. Being 7-2 is his meal ticket. Ryan Humphrey, Notre Dame - Apparently Humphrey’s stock is at an all time high right now. The knock against him is his inconsistency. But right now he is playing his best basketball. His ceiling could be the top of the second round at best.
Tito Maddox, Fresno State - This will be the first time teams and the rest of the basketball world will be seeing Maddox in a long time. He needs Chicago probably more than anybody else. If things didn’t get complicated while he was at Fresno State, we could be talking about a lottery pick in 2003. But life isn’t always perfect. Maddox is a very versatile point guard who sees the floor well, he rebounds better than his competition and he can light it up when needed. But he is rusty. Playing against ABA competition and private workouts can only get a player so far. This will be a test for him. If he can shake it all off and play like he used to, Maddox will be a first rounder.
Jobey Thomas, UNC-Charlotte - Thomas is a long shot to be drafted but it is good exposure for him. He ranks right up there with the draft’s best perimeter shooters. If a team is looking for a deep threat and that only, Thomas could be drafted. Free agency is the likely route for him though. Depending on his performance, he could be a late second rounder.
Vincent Yarbrough, Tennessee - Yarbrough is tough to figure out. Either he’s hot or he’s nowhere to be seen. But his game is that way too. If he shows his explosiveness that he has, then he could explode into the twenties of the draft. If not, back to the second round he goes again.
Matt Barnes, UCLA - His name began to surface at the end of the season regarding the draft. Now he has been working out with a couple of NBA teams. Barnes is one of those guys that is a jack of all trades but not a master of any. He is the ultimate role player. Barnes is a scrappy player who plays with heart. If a coach or team is looking for a good player who brings energy off the bench, Barnes is your guy. These type of players get noticed at Chicago.
Steve Logan, Cincinnati - Here is Logan’s chance to move up the charts. He is a great scorer; there isn’t a worry about that. But the question about his game is his ability to run the team and be a pass first point guard. Looking at this team he is on for the camp, Logan will be able to involve a lot of his teammates and shine thus moving himself up in the draft.
Chris Massie, Memphis - When Massie declared for the draft, everyone scratched their heads. He doesn’t possess anything special offensively or defensively but he is 6-10, 250. Teams in the Western Conference are always looking for bodies to throw at Shaq. He is almost 25 years old, which may keep teams away from him.
Byron Mouton, Maryland - Mouton is still a long shot to be drafted however he did fair well during limited time at Portsmouth. He has a nice pedigree with winning a national championship. He has adapted to being a role player instead of a primary scorer. He brings leadership, maturity and great defense to a team. That alone puts himself above the underclassmen tagged with upside.
Luke Recker, Iowa - Every team needs a bench player who can shoot from outside. Recker is that kind of player. His stock will remain the same regardless of his performance at Chicago. Second round is his spot.
Tamar Slay, Marshall - At 6-9, Slay makes for a tempting prospect at shooting guard. His name has quietly moved out of many draft conversations of late but after Chicago, they could be back and bigger. He is a great scorer and has good range. Remember Trenton Hassell out of last year’s draft? Slay could be like him. Small school, big time scorer and ready for quality playing time in the NBA. Chicago could be Slay’s stepping stone.
Lenny Cooke, Every high school in America - This will be the biggest test for Cooke to date. The days of playing summer AAU ball and high school all star games are in the past. He will be playing with the big buys with even bigger boys watching. The buzz has been somewhat non-existent surrounding Cooke so far. That may be because he didn’t play in the McDonald’s All American game or even his senior season in high school. Chicago is an introductory period for the entire league.
Reggie Evans, Iowa - Think Popeye Jones. All rebounds, all the time. Teams know what they are getting with him. Thus his stock won’t increase too dramatically with a good performance at Chicago. Regardless, he will be a decent pro with his rebounding skills and aggressiveness in the paint.
Randy Holcomb, San Diego State - ESPN believes Holcomb could be one of the players who benefits the most from Chicago. Holcomb is an athletic slashing small forward who has a nice above the rim game. According to Andy Katz, that is just the thing that makes coaches get all giddy about during these types of events. Guess we’ll see if he’s right come draft night.
Predrag Savovic, Hawaii - Savovic has benefited from coming inland from Hawaii. He was always known as a good outside shooter. Now teams are seeing what all the hype was about. His range is very NBA ready. Looking at the team he will be playing with, Savovic will have plenty of opportunity to show off his best asset.
Darius Songalia, Wake Forest - Songalia is a likely choice to play himself into the first round. He is a warrior under the basket, he has good moves in the post, his outside touch is decent, he plays nice defense and he has played ACC basketball for four years. Those are all things NBA teams seem to like. If the hype finds a player from this camp, it should be Songalia. Watch for his stock to improve.
Marcus Taylor, Michigan State - Hopefully Chicago will teach Taylor a tough life lesson. He needs to go back to school. If his performance is any less than what teams are wanting from him, he should heed the advice a la Jason Gardner and return to school. Taylor is a good kid from a good family. There shouldn’t be any question that he won’t take into consideration the feedback regarding his game.
Robert Archibald, Illinois - Again, with the draft being very weak at the draft position, guys like Archibald will have a good chance of hearing their name on draft night. Archibald isn’t a great center but he isn’t average either. Several teams have worked him out privately as well. Centers generally make a bigger splash at Chicago more than any other position.
Lee Benson, Brown Mackie JC - See Chris Massie then tack on four more years. Benson is a risk. His past will always haunt him regardless of the fact that he says he has grown up and learned a lesson. Teams who are rebuilding will most likely pass. Teams like San Antonio, the Lakers, Dallas, and other veteran heavy teams could gamble on him. Certainly a good performance will increase his chances of a good draft position. Right now, it is on the bubble.
Andy Ellis, Texas Tech - See Archibald. Ellis can actually play both spots. He will most likely fall into a power forward position because of his athleticism for a big man. Don’t expect too much from him though.
Freddie Jones, Oregon - Without question, Jones is the most athletic player in Chicago. Several teams, particularly those in the mid first round, will watch him. Also consider the lack of quality shooting guards in the draft as well. That boosts his stock dramatically. Jones has always been a first round type of player but he has the potential to jump into the teens. Keep in eye on him.
Uche Okafor, Missouri - Much like Tito Maddox, Okafor has been missing in action for the last year due to NCAA violations. Okafor was once compared to Theo Ratliff if that sparks your memory. Okafor is a project. He hasn’t played competitive basketball for too long and sitting out last year didn’t help matters. In a draft that lacks quality centers, Okafor is a tempting project.
Jannero Pargo, Arkansas - Pargo has quietly made his name known to the NBA. He has always had great range on his shot and while at Arkansas he never played point guard full time. While at Portsmouth he impressed scouts with his court vision and was dropping assists like crazy.
Lonny Baxter, Maryland - A tremendous career at Maryland surely won’t go unnoticed neither will his workhouse game either. Young teams like Memphis and the Clippers will be paying particular attention to guys like Baxter. They need a winning player on their team. Baxter is coachable as well. Throw in an above average camp and he will benefit.
Lynn Greer, Temple - Did Greer ever sit on minute on the bench during his career? He goes full speed all the time. Greer makes those around him play better. He reminds me a lot of Earl Watson. Watson, if you remember, floated beneath the draft radar last year and came into Seattle and contributed right away. Greer will be the same way.
John Salmons, Miami - 6-7 point guards don’t come around very often. That has struck interest in a lot of teams who are looking to add some quality depth to their backcourt. Salmons is a good candidate for walking away from Chicago as a wanted commodity.
Sylvere Bryan, Tampa - Bryan is a long shot to be drafted but he has been working out privately for the Hawks and the Grizzlies. Both are in need of a rebounder and defensive presence. Bryan is just that. Chicago is a nice platform for him. Since he played at Division II Tampa, he doesn’t get that much exposure. This is a place where he could play himself into the draft.
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