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Centers
1. Yao Ming, 7-6, 296, China: Easily the most intriguing, and possibly dominating, big man in years ... Rockets have done everything possible to make this pick ... Big question is availability; Asian Games are in October, and coach Rudy Tomjanovich prefers his players to be in his training camp at that time ... Great athleticism for his size as well as enviable passing and shooting skills ... On basketball alone, a no-brainer ... Will likely make NBA history as the first foreign-born non-collegian to be the No. 1 pick.

2. Curtis Borchardt, 7-0, 230, Stanford: Played only one full season for Stanford because of foot woes, which still are a concern ... Is he going to be anything more than Joel Przybilla or even one of the Collins twins? ... Reputed to be excellent shot blocker ... Will get points for his size and potential, which is what all drafts are about these days ... Once thought to be a top 10 pick, he could go as high as 7 or on the fringes of the lottery.

3. Dan Gadzuric, 6-11, 240, UCLA: He had been rumored to be coming out early since his last year at Governor Dummer, but stayed in Westwood for four years ... Must have made a big impression; ESPN omitted him in its list of centers available for the draft ... Had 26 points in Bruins' upset of Cincinnati in the NCAAs ... Averaged 7-plus rebounds, and only one other Bruin, Jelani McCoy, blocked more shots ... Alas, the Bruins didn't keep track of blocks until 1979, long after Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bill Walton ... Probably will go late first round.

4. Lazaros Papadopoulos, 6-11, 240, Greece: Who, you say? Unless your home page is telebasket.com, you probably have no idea who this guy is ... Best described as a ''futures'' candidate in that whoever picks him will tell him to keep enjoying the retsina and souvlaki for a couple more years ... Probably too promising to go in the second round and could be taken in a run of foreign-born players in the mid-to-late first round.

5. Jason Jennings, 7-0, 250, Arkansas State: The reigning Sun Belt Conference Defensive Player of the Year ... Averaged 14.6 points, 6.6 rebounds and 3.4 blocks last season ... Played well in Chicago pre-draft camp after declining to participate in Portsmouth ... Think of Mark Blount ... Can score around the basket and has size ... Probably a late first-rounder or early second.

Others: Jamal Sampson, California; Nenad Krstic, Yugoslavia; Robert Archibald, Illinois.

POWER FORWARDS


1. Drew Gooden, 6-10, 230, Kansas: Coming off a terrific season for the Jayhawks (19.8 points, 11.4 rebounds) ... Draws some comparisons to legendary Jayhawk Danny Manning and is the only KU player other than Manning to have 1,500 points, 900 rebounds, 100 blocks, and 100 steals in his career ... Versatile, athletic ... Developed a decent outside shot last season ... Top five pick.

2. Nikoloz Tskitishvili, 7-0, 225, Republic of Georgia: Gee, can you imagine Johnny Most with this guy? ... He is tall, green, and, apparently, enormously promising and gifted because he played very little this past season for Benetton Treviso ... Joined the team in January and averaged less than 13 minutes a game ... Deemed to be quicker, more athletic than Dirk Nowitzki but not as bulky ... Probably a top five pick.

3. Chris Wilcox, 6-10, 221, Maryland: The folks at Madison Square Garden will go nuts if this guy slips to No. 7 and the Knicks take him ... Athletic power forward for the NCAA champs who has improved his stock with workouts ... Excellent leaper whom Knicks envision as a counterpart to the oft-injured Marcus Camby ... May not last that long.

4. Maybyner ''Nene'' Hilario, 6-11, 260, Brazil: Another powerful kid with an enormous upside who has been impressive in workouts ... Came out of nowhere this year to become a lottery lock and possibly a top six pick ... Showcased his skills for US eyes at last year's Goodwill Games, and Jermaine O'Neal probably remembers a few that Nene sent back ... Only 19, he is still under contract to his club team in Brazil, but that is not expected to be a concern ... A sure sign that he's rising: Teams are trying to trade up to draft him.

5. Amare Stoudemire, 6-10, 245, Cypress Creek (Fla.) HS: This year's best (some might say only) high school prospect ... Made a vanity commitment to Memphis but never seriously considered going there ... Has been working in Florida with strength/nutrition coaches as well as basketball guys ... Said to be a gym rat who, of course, has oodles of potential ... May go in late lottery; Danny Ainge thinks he's the sleeper of the draft.

Others: Marcus Haislip, Tennessee; Melvin Ely, Fresno State; Carlos Boozer, Duke.

SMALL FORWARDS


1. Mike Dunleavy, 6-9, 220, Duke: Should be one of three Dukies to go in the first round; two should go in the top three ... And they lost to Indiana? ... Has everything that pro people like: size, unselfishness, excellent bloodlines, and proper preparation time at Duke ... Could also be seen as a larger-than-normal shooting guard but likely will be a small forward with the ability to go inside or outside ... Most feel he won't get past Golden State at No. 3, but if Yao decides to stay in China, he could well go No. 1 overall ... Son of longtime NBA player and coach Mike Dunleavy.

2. Caron Butler, 6-7, 235, UConn: Decided to test the waters after two years at UConn ... Will turn 22 in March, so he's been around and is older than some seniors ... Has jail time and fatherhood on his resume ... Big-time player for the Huskies who started all 34 games and scored 32 points in NCAA tournament loss to eventual champion Maryland ... Will join Ray Allen, Donyell Marshall, and Rip Hamilton as UConn lottery picks.

3. Jared Jeffries, 6-10, 215, Indiana: Turning pro after leading the Hoosiers to the NCAA title game ... Pros are said to love the kid's upside, and we know he must be somewhat fundamentally sound to have been recruited by Bobby Knight ... Thin in college, has reportedly bulked up by some 20 pounds since declaring for the draft ... Often compared to Danny Manning, only more athletic ... Unlikely to still be around after No. 10.

4. Qyntel Woods, 6-9, 230, NE Mississippi JC: This year's Kedrick Brown with one notable difference: He doesn't have powerful Arn Tellem to make sure he goes where Tellem wants him to go ... Still, he is all potential, which is what you might expect from a Juco ... Athletic, occasionally compared to Tracy McGrady, but his Juco team had a disappointing finish to its season ... Could well be on the board for Pat Riley to peruse at No. 10, although he seems to be sliding ever so slightly.

5. Bostjan Nachbar, 6-8, 220, Slovenia: Best available Slovenian ... Excellent shooter who played at Benetto Treviso last season ... Think Hedo Turkoglu, only a little bigger ... Declared early for the draft last year (he turns 22 next month) and then withdrew his name when he discovered he probably wouldn't be a first-rounder ... Likely to go in the top 15 as another example of the NBA's newfound fascination for all things European.

Others: Tayshaun Prince, Kentucky; Chris Jeffries, Fresno State; Predrag Savovic, Hawaii.

SHOOTING GUARDS


1. Kareem Rush, 6-6, 218, Missouri: Best of a not-so-great group of ''2 men'' ... Almost came out last year, but returned to Mizzou for his junior season ... Lefthander with excellent range ... Think Jalen Rose, pre-pig ... Averaged 19.8 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 2.5 assists a game for the Tigers ... You hear the word ''smooth'' when people discuss his game ... Look for him to go somewhere in the teens.

2. Jiri Welsch, 6-6, 205, Czech Republic: Another Euroslinger ... Averaged almost 17 points and shot better than 50 percent from the field last season playing for Union Olimpija ... Needs to work on his long-distance shooting and his agility and defense ... Pacers said to covet him at 14 - and may allow him to stay overseas for another year.

3. Frederick Jones, 6-4, 210, Oregon: One of the better players to have suited up for the Ducks, finishing in the top 10 in eight categories ... Of course, in this day and age, it helps staying four years ... Athletic scorer (only Terrell Brandon scored more at OU) whose stock may have slipped because of a shoulder injury ... Still, should go in the 20s, and whoever gets him will likely be very happy they did.

4. Rod Grizzard, 6-8, 205, Alabama: One of those guys who should have stayed for his senior season in college and probably would have if he didn't think he'd be a lock for the first round ... Can score, but isn't the best percentage shooter ... Athletic (who isn't?) and not beyond playing defense, a plus for anyone ... May eventually move to small forward in the NBA, where he'll need to improve on his 3-point shooting ... Broken leg in spring set him back a little and kept him out of workouts ... Could go in the 20s.

5. John Salmons, 6-7, 200, Miami: A late riser in the process ... Played four years at Miami and established a reputation for versatility; some predraft lists have him slotted with the point guards ... If you're looking for a pure position player, he's probably not your guy, but teams like guys who can play more than one ... Third in school history in steals and assists.

Others: Casey Jacobsen, Stanford; Roger Mason, Virginia; Luke Recker, Iowa.

POINT GUARDS


1. Jay Williams, 6-2, 195, Duke: Arguably the best college player last season and destined to be one of the top two picks ... OK, he needs to work on his free throw shooting; anything else? ... Teams don't like idea of trying to contain him on a Bulls team with Jalen Rose and Tyson Chandler as options ... Won two straight College Player of the Year awards, first to do so since Ralph Sampson ... Technically an early-entry candidate but hit the books enough to get his degree, which also speaks to his dedication and determination ... Should be a top pro.

2. Dajuan Wagner, 6-2, 200 Memphis: Is listed as a point guard but probably is just a guard-guard because he can also score like a 2-man ... Would have been a top 10 pick coming out of high school last year, but decided to do a p.g. year at Memphis for John Calipari ... Once scored 100 points in a high school game ... Tough, durable, and can finish what he starts ... May have to tone down his game a bit in the big leagues, but that shouldn't stop him from falling out of the top 10.

3. Dan Dickau, 6-0, 170, Gonzaga: Might be best available senior ... Earned All-America honors at Gonzaga, something his more illustrious and Hall of Fame-bound predecessor (John Stockton) did not do ... Good shooter, excellent playmaker, tough ... Draws more comparisons to Steve Nash than to Stockton; that's still pretty good ... The Warriors (who are said to have traded for the 16th pick) could take him in the middle of the first round. He won't stick around much longer than that.

4. Frank Williams, 6-3, 205, Illinois: Second-best Williams available ... May actually go ahead of Dickau because he has a size advantage and played against tougher competition in college ... Still, did not improve his stock after toying with coming out last year ... Call it the Junior Slump, but came out anyway ... Said to be an excellent defender, and he was the Big Ten's Player of the Year - in 2001 ... Should go in the teens to either the Warriors or Magic.

5. Juan Dixon, 6-3, 164, Maryland: The most outstanding player of the Final Four doesn't translate into draft success ... Just ask Tony Delk ... Still, a guy who had big games and made big plays at big times for the NCAA champs is hard to overlook ... He probably isn't your Central Casting point guard, which means his size may work against him ... But that's what teams see in him now ... Also has excellent leadership skills, which could be enough to vault him into the first round.

Others: Tito Maddix, UCLA; Smush Parker, Fordham; Ron Murray, Shaw.
 
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