June 19, 2008
Charlotte's preparation for the 2008 NBA Draft continued Thursday at the Presbyterian Hospital Training Center at Time Warner Cable Arena with UCLA's Russell Westbrook, Ohio State's Kosta Koufos, Massachusetts' Gary Forbes, Tennessee's Chris Lofton, Temple's Mark Tyndale and FMP Zeleznik's Predrag Samardziski (Serbia) all participating in draft workouts with the Bobcats.
Russell Westbrook is an early entry candidate for the 2008 NBA Draft and is projected to go in the top ten in our consensus mock draft. As a sophomore at UCLA, he was named the Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year and earned Third Team All-Pac-10 honors. Westbrook led UCLA in assists (4.3 apg) and ranked third in scoring (12.7 ppg). During the 2007-08 season, he set the school's single season record for minutes played after logging 1,318 minutes.
Kosta Koufos is also an early entry candidate for the 2008 NBA Draft and is projected to be a first round selection. Following his freshman season at Ohio State, he was named Third Team All-Big Ten and was selected as a member of the league's All-Freshman Team. He finished the season ranked second in the Big Ten in blocked shots (1.8 bpg), fifth in scoring (14.4 ppg) and rebounding (6.7 rpg) and seventh in field goal percentage (.508). A dual citizen of the United States and Greece, Koufos' season total of 534 points ranks as the second best all-time mark for a freshman in Ohio State history.
Gary Forbes was named the Atlantic 10 Player of the Year and to the All-Atlantic 10 First Team after averaging 20.3 points as a senior at Massachusetts in 2007-08. Forbes began his career at Virginia before transferring to Masschusetts. In just two seasons at UMass, he tallied 1,128 points to rank 28th all-time on the school's leaderboard. He joins Julius Erving as the only players in school history to score 1,000 points in two seasons. In 2007-08 he posted 698 points, the second-best single-season mark in UMass history, trailing only Erving.
Chris Lofton finished his collegiate career at Tennessee as the SEC's all-time leader (3rd all-time in NCAA history) in 3-point field goals made with 431. Named a Consensus Second Team All-American his junior and senior seasons, the 6-2 guard ranks fourth in Tennessee history in scoring (2,131 points), fifth in free throw shooting percentage (.842), second in 3-point shooting percentage (.422) and third in steals (193). A three-time First Team All-SEC member, Lofton led the team in scoring (15.5 ppg) and paced the SEC in free throw percentage (.842) in his senior season and was named to the Wooden Award All-America Team. As a junior, he earned conference Player of the Year honors.
Mark Tyndale finished his career at Temple as the only player to rank among the all-time top 20 scorers and rebounders and top 10 assists and steals leaders. Following his senior season he was selected as a Second Team All-Atlantic 10 member after leading the team in rebounding (7.2 rpg), assists (4.2 apg), steals (1.6 spg) and minutes played (37.4 mpg, ranked first in A-10). Tyndale was also the second leading scorer for the Owls squad, averaging 15.9 points.
Predrag Samardziski was originally an early entry candidate for the 2005 NBA Draft before withdrawing his name from consideration. He began his pro career with Partizan Belgrade, playing for its junior team during the 2000-01 season. He played with Partizan through the 2005-06 season before moving to FMP Zeleznik (Serbia), where he has been ever since. In 2007-08, he was averaging 10.9 points and 5.1 rebounds through nine games in Serbian SuperLeague regular season play. He also averaged 10.2 points and 6.3 rebounds in Adriatic League play.
Bobcats Head Coach Larry Brown, Westbrook and Koufos all spoke with the media following the workout.
(On todayís workout consisting of both guards and big men)
It was good. Obviously in the NBA, you play guards, forwards and centers at the same time. We could put them into some situations that were typical of what you might find in the NBA, a lot of pick and rolls and post situations. That was fun.
(On Russell Westbrook)
Heís a young kid that just gets better and better. Heís real athletic and explosive. Heís got a chance. Like all of them, he wants to learn and get better. You have to look and see if a kid has the capacity to learn. Heís going to get better. Certainly he has a big upside.
(On if he has high expectations for point guards coming in)
We have a pretty good point guard already here. I think if you look, most coaches are tough on point guards because they are an extension of the coach when they play. I hope itís not tough. I hope itís that you are trying to coach them to make them better and thatís the way they perceive it.
(On these players coming into the NBA as backups)
All these kids coming into the NBA in this stage in their careers are looking at being backups, unless they go to a terrible team. Itís generally understood that the first or second player in the Draft might start. They donít want to stay as backups. I look at Russell (Westbrook) and Kosta (Koufos) and all these kids, they are just trying to make a roster and improve themselves and hopefully someday play. I havenít seen anybody that weíve had in here that I can say is going to be a starter right now. If youíre drafted nine, I would hope somewhere down the road they would be a starter and a major contributor. Iíve seen a lot of those kids so far. Weíve had 15 or 20 that have gone through here that I think have a chance to be a starter in the NBA, but maybe not right off the bat.
(On Kosta Koufos)
Heís long, he can shoot the ball and he coachable. Heís real young. I think heís 19. Obviously heís been well coached. Thad (Motta) does a great job. He has a lot of skills. With big people able to step out on the perimeter, it opens the game up. He has that ability. Not all the big guys that weíve seen are as comfortable shooting deep like he is. I like to think when you are 7-0 it would be nice if you were down closer to the goal. That would make me feel better. Heís going to be fine.
(On if the workouts ever seem to blend together)
We have film on everybody. We film these workouts, so you can go back and look which is really a good thing. I would hope that we have done our homework and have a pretty good feel for these guys prior to them coming. My main goal is to teach them and make them feel like we tried to help them because like I said, we canít draft them all.
(On the workout)
It was great. It was exciting. Coach Brown did a lot of teaching and helped us out on a lot of little things that we will have to go through throughout the game, so it was good.
(On his draft status)
I donít know. Iím just trying to continue to work hard and go to the best situation possible.
(On where he has worked out so far)
Seattle, New York, the Clippers, Sacramento, Portland and the Bobcats.
(On how this workout was different)
They all do about the same thing, but with this one, they do a lot more teaching. Coach Brown made sure we did all the drills the right way and we werenít just going out there and doing things.
(On how being a good defensive player will benefit him in the NBA)
It benefits me a lot. I take pride in playing defense. Itís something I take personal when I go on the floor, playing defense.
(On what he knows about the Bobcats)
I know a lot. I know itís a young team. I think I would fit real well. Itís a good team on the rise.
(On how the workout process has gone)
This is my last one. Itís been tiring and exciting all at once, but itís been great. Itís been the best time of my life, so I canít complain. Itís a great process. Itís an exciting time in my life. Iím just trying to go out everyday and live my life and just be happy. Next week is coming real soon, so Iím just trying to prepare for that.
(On if he expects to be drafted in the top 10)
I hope so. Thatís the plan, but you never know. People can trade up. It all depends on how things go. Hopefully everything stays solid and Iíll be all right. Iíve been trying my best to be in the best situation possible. Hopefully everything goes well.
(On if he would have any problems coming in as a backup)
Not at all. This is just like starting college all over. You have to come in and work for your minutes. Youíre not just going to come in and just be given playing time. You have to come and work for it and try to get on the floor as much as possible.
(On if he has any concerns about Coach Brownís high expectations for his point guards)
It helps me. I have no problem with that. Heís trying to help me out. Heís not trying to hurt my game.
(On his suit for the Draft)
Itís already picked out and already ready.
(On the workout)
We worked hard. Coach Brown is a tremendous coach and he taught us well. We got a lot of drills in and we were very competitive today.
(On the other places he has worked out)
Off the top of my head, Toronto, Seattle, New Jersey, New York, Indiana, Minnesota.
(On how this workout was different)
(It was) a lot of learning. Coach Brown definitely knows the game of basketball. Itís an honor to learn from a coach like Coach Brown.
(On his draft status)
Iím not worried where Iím projected. Iím just here working hard and God has blessed me with the opportunity, so Iím just going to make the best of it. I feel very confident about myself. Iím just here to work hard and have fun.
(On how this workout was different with both guards and big men)
It was faster paced. It was very fun today. We got after it today.
(On what he can bring to a team)
(I can bring) being versatile. I have an inside-outside game that causes mismatch problems. If thereís a smaller guy I can post them up and bigger guys I take them out and dribble past them.
(On what Coach Brown taught them today)
(He taught us) certain ways to position your feet and spot up and play defensively in the post. I learned a lot today.
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