Orlando Day 1: The Height of the Matter
Posted May 28 2008 9:43AM
The results likely won't be available until the weekend, giving Richard Hendrix approximately four days to dispel any myths regarding his height, or lack thereof. Cue the Mission Impossible theme music ...
When the NBA does finally get around to publishing the results of physical testing and measurements here at the Pre-Draft Camp in Orlando, Hendrix will almost certainly measure smaller than the 6-9 he was occasionally listed at over the past three years at Alabama. Quite possibly three inches smaller.
The question is, should anybody really care all that much? At the beginning of Tuesday's drill session, Stevie Wonder could see Hendrix looked a bit on the short side in person for those who only saw him on television this past season. Stevie Wonder could also see a really strong kid with a pair of hands to die for.
Size matters in the NBA, and it's for this reason someone like Patrick O'Bryant gets picked in the lottery each year. It's also the reason Paul Millsap and Carl Landry get picked in the second round, yet manage to make an impact based on their ability to play the game without being the ideal height.
Hendrix, who flirted with entering the draft as a senior in high school, has turned in three extremely productive seasons in the talent-rich SEC. He knows how to carve out space, has a nice touch around the basket, and doesn't shy away from contact. And those hands gobble up every ball in sight.
Hendrix is one of several players on the first-round bubble this week, hoping to make a big splash. He has the option to return to school if he doesn't like what he's hearing.
Game action begins Wednesday and continues through Friday. Here are some observations from Tuesday's session:
Mirror Image – North Carolina's Ty Lawson and Tennessee-Martin's Lester Hudson look very much alike, right on down to the gray sneakers each was wearing Tuesday night. Hudson is a few inches taller, but both pack a good deal of size and strength into a relatively short frame. Both also have a real chance to stand out this week, based on their ability to make plays for others. Lawson is a true lead guard who has a knack for running the break. Hudson was billed as more of combo guard, but definitely showed the ability to play the one. This year's field is fairly devoid of pass-first point guards.
Draft-day Steele? – It was somewhat of a surprise seeing Ronald Steele's name on the invite list, given that he red-shirted this past season and played hurt in 2006-07. You have to go all the way back to 2005-06 to remember one of the more talented lead guards in the country. Steele is testing the waters, but more so trying to re-introduce himself to scouts that heaped such praise on him in the past. Steele is also one of only a few true point guards in the field, and should help the overall quality of play in the camp.
Not in Kansas Anymore – Darnell Jackson and Sasha Kaun flew under the radar this past season at Kansas, with Brandon Rush, Mario Chalmers and Darrell Arthur grabbing the spotlight. Each has a chance to play in the NBA. Kaun is the bigger of the two, and is able to impact a game with his toughness and energy. He's also very efficient, not playing beyond his talent. Jackson was a late-bloomer, but has a pretty solid post game to go with an athletic and live body.
Ready, Aim, Fire – There may be a dearth of point guards this year, but there are shooters aplenty in this year's field. Vanderbilt's Shan Foster, Dayton's Brian Roberts, Mike Taylor (D-League, Iowa State) and Michigan State's Drew Neitzel are a few of the better shooters in this year's field. There are also some guys who shouldn't be shooting quite as much. Count UAB's Robert Vaden, UMass' Gary Forbes, Virginia Tech's Deron Washington and Keith Brumbaugh of Hillsborough (Fla.) CC as those who weren't shy Tuesday night in terms of getting shots up.
What You See is What You Get – Joey Dorsey of Memphis could probably hand out media credentials this week instead of playing, and he'd still get drafted somewhere in the 30s or 40s and make an NBA team next year. As long as GM's and scouts got a good look at his body and watched a few of the 867 games he played in over the past four years, Dorsey is pretty much a sure thing. He's not going to wow anybody with his skills, but you could throw him in an NBA game tomorrow and he'd throttle some people, while showing a surprisingly good idea of how to play.
Subway, Eat Fresh – Happens every year. Guys spend most of their college careers carrying extra weight, then miraculously get in shape for the biggest job audition of their lives. Oregon's Malik Hairston has shed at least 15 pounds from his normal playing weight the past four years and has a noticeable bounce in his step. Texas A&M's Joseph Jones struggled in Portsmouth this year, showing up 15 pounds overweight. Those 15 pounds have vanished, and Jones will try to re-write the script which had him on the verge of missing this camp (he was a late addition) and not getting drafted.