May 27, 2008
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Delegates from the state of Florida will be seated come June 26. Unfortunately for Hillary Clinton, they'll be parked in NBA Draft war rooms around the country, and the results will have no bearing on her bid to earn the Democratic nomination this summer.
Instead, votes will be cast for someone like Jared Dudley. Largely viewed as a second round pick heading into last year's NBA Pre-Draft Camp in Orlando, Dudley capped an impressive showing by becoming the 22nd overall selection by the Charlotte Bobcats.
Daequan Cook (21st) and Aaron Brooks (26th) joined Dudley in the first round after playing last year, while Gabe Pruitt, Marcus Williams, Glen Davis, Nick Fazekas and Derrick Byars all declined invitations and subsequently drifted into the second round. Byars was cut in training camp, and didn't play a single minute in the NBA this season.
Auditioning for the roles of Dudley, Cook and Brooks this season are North Carolina's Wayne Ellington and Ty Lawson, New Mexico's J.R. Giddens, California's DeVon Hardin and USC's Davon Jefferson, players with first-round ability, if not probability, based on available slots.
Kansas State's Bill Walker, Cal's Ryan Anderson and Western Kentucky's Courtney Lee will hope they've done enough at the grass roots level to earn a spot in the first round without playing this week.
Ellington, Lawson and Jefferson highlight the list of 16 early entry candidates scheduled to play. Jefferson is rumored to have already hired an agent. Ellington and Lawson, both sophomores, will gauge interest from NBA teams at the conclusion of the pre-draft process before making decisions about their future. Early entry candidates have until June 16 to withdraw from the draft, provided they haven't secured representation.
Pat Calathes of St. Joseph's, Ohio State's Jamar Butler and Gary Forbes of UMass headline the field of 24 players who graduated from the first pre-draft stop in Portsmouth, Va. Calathes, who was arguably the most impressive player at the PIT, is 6-10 and can handle and pass like a guard. Butler, the MVP of the PIT, is an efficient point guard who can score and distribute. Forbes is a slasher with a good overall skill-set.
Clemson's James Mayes, Texas A&M's Joseph Jones, Virginia's Sean Singletary and Keith Brumbaugh of Hillsborough (Fla.) Community College are back for a second go-round in Orlando. Mays, Jones and Singletary all competed last year before returning to school. Brumbaugh actually played in the 2005 camp in Chicago as a senior in high school before re-surfacing this past season at the junior college level.
Vladimir Golubovic of Serbia is the lone international player in the field who played overseas last season.
Twenty players who played here last year wound up getting drafted. Carl Landry, who also played in Portsmouth last season, earned NBA All-Rookie Second Team honors as a member of the Houston Rockets this season.
The NBA's ban on all individual workouts with teams prior to June 3 once again gives this year's camp added significance. Here are some players to keep an eye on this week:
Lester Hudson, Tennessee-Martin – Early reports had Hudson skipping this year's camp, as his name continued to appear in the first round of several notable mock drafts. Hudson wisely chose to participate, and will look to expand his small-school profile. He's said to be an explosive combo guard with excellent range, who plays bigger than his listed height (6-3). Only a junior, Hudson has the option to return to school, though he turns 24 in August.
Jeremy Pargo, Gonzaga – The brother of Jannero Pargo of the New Orleans Hornets, Jeremy is a physical guard with improving point skills, having played both guard spots during his tenure at Gonzaga. He could probably use another year of seasoning at the college level, although many felt the same way about Nevada's Ramon Sessions last year. Sessions played extremely well here, kept his name in the draft and did well this season, despite going late in the second round (56th overall to Milwaukee).
Danny Green, North Carolina – Like Ellington and Lawson, Green is here to gauge interest. Unlike his teammates, Green is a junior, so the move makes sense under current rules that allow players to test the waters once during their college careers. After two pedestrian seasons at UNC, Green emerged in the role of sixth man this season, averaging 11.5 points in budgeted minutes. He's a solid all-around performer with a good feel for the game.
Trent Plaisted, BYU – Plaisted's name has also appeared frequently in mock drafts this season, but as the draft picture continues to develop, Plaisted is taking nothing for granted and will look to cement his place in the draft with a strong showing this week. Only a junior, the word is he's in the draft for good. Plaisted has the ability, at 6-11, to face the basket and knock down shots.
Shan Foster, Vanderbilt – The reigning SEC Player of the Year had a terrific senior campaign for the Commodores, averaging better than 20 points and earning All-America Second Team honors from The Associated Press. A terrific deep shooter with good size for the two-guard position, Foster will look to stand out, especially in shooting drills.
Richard Hendrix, Alabama – Another junior with nothing to lose by submitting his name, Hendrix is probably on the first-round bubble, and would need a strong performance to keep his name in the draft. Though slightly under-sized, Hendrix is a bull around the basket with good hands and a soft touch. The success of guys like Carl Landry and Paul Millsap bodes well for a player like Hendrix.