CHICAGO, JUNE 7, 2005 -- The city of Chicago was, for all intents and purposes, discovered in 1673 when Father Jacques Marquette, a French-born missionary of the Jesuit Order and Louis Jolliet, a Canadian explorer and mapmaker, traversed what is now Chicago on their way to explore the Mississippi River.

This was to be the city’s original “testing of the waters.”

These days, Chicago is home to a somewhat different procedure for critical evaluation -- the NBA’s annual Pre-Draft Camp, in which several would be college All-Americans seek to find out just how calm and inviting, or cold and treacherous their professional waters may be.

Beno Udrih parlayed his Chicago experience into a first round draft selection in 2004.
Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE/Getty Images
In 2004, Providence’s Ryan Gomes and Mississippi State’s Lawrence Roberts, two First Team All-Americans, cast their lines in Chicago, only to discover the fish weren’t biting in the first round.

Headlining the list of high profile underclassmen who will actually suit up for more than physical testing this week is Dee Brown of Illinois.

Brown, a Second Team All-American in 2004-05, who helped lead the Fighting Illini to the NCAA Championship game, is looking to gauge how he fits in this year’s draft pool.

As a senior at Proviso East High School in the Chicago suburbs, Brown passed and ran for over 1,800 yards and 16 touchdowns as the team’s quarterback, leading to recruiting overtures from Florida State and Nebraska.

He’ll reprise the role of quarterback (point guard) this week, a position filled mostly by Deron Williams the past three seasons. Brown has stated publicly that he’s looking to play his way into the first round, but won’t necessarily withdraw if he’s unable to secure a guarantee.

In 2004, only three Chicago participants -- Delonte West (24), Tony Allen (25) and Beno Udrih (28) -- snuck into the first round. Of the three, Udrih clearly made the most of his time in the Windy City, while West and Allen relied more on prior reputation.

There are 22 underclassmen expected to participate in the camp. Some, like Florida’s Anthony Roberson, West Virginia’s Kevin Pittsnogle and San Diego State’s Marcus Slaughter, are here to measure interest and will likely go back to school if the waters prove choppy. Others such as Kentucky’s Kelenna Azubuike, Maryland’s John Gilchrist and Indiana’s Bracey Wright, have already hired agents, meaning the eligibility ship has sailed.

North Carolina’s Jawad Williams, Cincinnati’s Jason Maxiell and Kentucky’s Chuck Hayes headline the field of 19 players who graduated from the first pre-draft stop in Portsmouth.

Maxiell was truly a man among boys at the PIT, and it will be interesting to see how he fares against enhanced competition.

Louis Williams, Brandon Rush and C.J. Miles make up this year’s high school contingent. Miles has said publicly that he’ll honor his commitment to Texas if he’s unable to generate serious buzz. Williams, a player most feel would benefit greatly from experience at the collegiate level, will remain in the draft no matter how he performs. Rush’s status is unclear due to questions concerning academics.

Here are some other players to keep an eye on this week.

Luther Head, Illinois – The senior member of Illinois’ fabled guard trio, Head had a terrific senior campaign, leading the team in scoring (15.9 ppg) and earning Second Team All-America honors. With Deron Williams and Dee Brown assuming the majority of the ball-handling duties, Head played mostly off the ball. He’ll have the chance this week to demonstrate his ability to run the point.

Rawle Marshall, Oakland – Though he flew somewhat under the radar playing in the Mid-Continent Conference, Marshall has been on the mind of scouts who are intrigued with his athleticism and ability to play multiple positions. He was also a premier defender at the collegiate level. According to various reports, he’s been helping his stock with strong workouts.

Ronny Turiaf, Gonzaga – Turiaf flirted with the idea of entering the 2004 draft but opted for another season in college. The word of late is that Turiaf is failing to distinguish himself in workouts, meaning he could use a strong performance here this week. His mix of size, strength and feistiness around the basket should serve him well.

Daryl Dorsey Dorsey spent two seasons at Brevard Community College in Florida, then tried to enroll at Southern Indiana in September of 2004 before deciding to sign a professional contract with the Las Vegas Rattlers of the American Basketball Association. He’s currently playing for the Rome Gladiators of the World Basketball Association. Since he renounced his eligibility and signed a professional contract, he’s in the draft as an “also eligible” player.

John Gilchrist, Maryland – As a sophomore in 2003-04, Gilchrist looked like one of the top players in the ACC and a sure-first first-round selection when he decided to make himself available for the draft. A disappointing junior season, coupled with reports of an attitude problem, has damaged his stock in recent weeks. On talent alone, Gilchrist should be one of the top players in camp this week. Whether he plays like it is another question.