For the last 35 years, Marty Blake has been identifying top college and international talent as the NBA’s Director of Scouting. A former general manager of the St. Louis and Atlanta Hawks in the 1950s and ’60s, Marty will be sharing thoughts and observations from the road as he crisscrosses the country identifying top collegiate talent throughout the season leading up to the 2006 NBA Draft in June.
HELLO MICKEY! HELLO MINNIE!
The annual National Basketball Pre-Draft camp will be held this year at the Disney World Resort at Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
This will mark a departure from previous camps which were previously held at several venues in Chicago, Ill.
This year the Pre-Draft event will celebrate its 25th anniversary.
The new site will be the Milkhouse Gym at Disney’s Wide World of Sports Complex.
Numerous sporting events are held at the complex each year including a preseason NCAA Division II basketball tournament.
Gold and tennis tournaments are also staged here.
The complex is also the spring training home of the Atlanta Braves.
The Pre-Draft camp was originally conceived by Joe Alexson, then the Director of Basketball Operation of the NBA; Matt Winick, now the Vice President of Operations for the league, and myself.
Chicago was suggested as a site since it would probably have a number of facilities that might be utilized and it was a central location eliminating any unusually long trips for players and NBA teams.
But it was Alexson who was the guiding force behind the original camp idea and who combined with Winick to do most of the early prep planning.
Jerry Colangelo, then the GM of the Phoenix Suns, was also head of the NBA Competition and Rules Committee. He made a number of contacts with the National Association of Basketball Coaches and other organizations on behalf of the proposed camp.
Bob Luksta, a former Loyola University of New Orleans head coach who lived in Chicago and who was a regional scout for the Orlando Magic, visited several sites for us and eventually Alexon and Winick arranged for the inaugural event to be held at the practice gym of the University of Illinois at Chicago, known then as Illinois-Chicago Circle.
The first camp was held in the first week of June in 1982, starting on June 4 and continuing for four days.
A total of 48 players were invited to that first camp divided into six teams.
NBA assistant coaches George Irvine, Frank Hamblen, Mike Schuler, Dave Harshman, Brendan Suhr, Pete Babcock, Bob Weiss, Don Chaney, John Wetzel, Jim Lynam, Mo McHone and Phil Johnson coached the 48-top rated eligible collegians who were selected by a vote of the then 23 teams.
Many of the players who participated in this first camp went on not only to play in the NBA but to hold coaching and executive positions in the league. Others went on to successful careers as college coaches.
Some of the better known players who participated in the inaugural camp were Mike Sanders, Rod Higgins, Audie Norris, Jerry Eaves, Paul Pressey, Rory White, Vince Taylor, Kevin Magee and Darren Tillis.
Here’s an interesting sidebar to the first camp.
When a last-minute replacement was needed at a guard, Tex Winter, then the head coach at Long Beach State, advised us that one of his graduating seniors lived one mile and a half from the gym.
A quick call to that player’s home included an invitation to “come on down” and participate in the camp.
The player readily accepted and his play in the event saw him being selected in the NBA Draft later that year.
His name was Craig Hodges and he went on to play 10 years in the NBA and establish himself as one of the league’s great three-point shot makers.
Winter, of course, has become famous as the inventor of the triangle offense, which the Los Angeles Lakers used so successfully in their run to their NBA crowns.
Twenty-four players who attended the first Pre-Draft camp made the NBA the following season.
Keith Edmonson of Purdue played so well in this camp that he rose from a projected third-round pick to the 10th player selected in the first round.
Southern California’s Dwight Anderson, who pulled out of the camp, leaving an opening for Hodges, fell from certain first-round status to the second round because he didn’t attend the camp.
Among the campers the second year were Mike Davis, now head coach at Alabama-Birmingham; Bobby Hansen; Michael Holton; Sidney Lowe, a former NBA head coach, now head man at North Carolina State; Dirk Minniefield; Roy Hinson; Granville Waiters; Scooter McCray; Greg Kite; Mark West, now Assistant General Manager of the Phoenix Suns; Craig Ehlo and Jon Sunvold.
The 1984 camp supplied Danny Young; Ben Coleman; Tony Costner; Jerome Kersey, who played nearly 20 years in the NBA; Kevin Willis, who earned a high pick of the Atlanta Hawks that year by his play there; and future Hall of Famer John Stockton.
In 1992, the team moved into an ideal facility on the campus of Moody Bible Institute in downtown Chicago.
In later years, the Moody gym was to open up their facilities to NBA and WNBA squads, international teams passing through Chicago and sundry and other court units including the US Olympic and World Games teams.
The camp schedule consists of drills and instruction by NBA coaches and other personnel and complete statistics are kept regarding all phases of their respective games.
Even the “bigs” are given an opportunity to take part in drills which are usually reserved for smaller players.
Complete physicals were added for all players shortly after the inaugural year with the NBA setting up a comprehensive medical center at the headquarters hotel.
Trainers and medical staff from all NBA teams attend the camp and are part of the examination program.
Through the years the Pre-Draft camp proved a great showcase for many players who would go on to NBA stardom.
After the turn of the century, international players were invited and several have attended each year.
Here’s the summary of past years of some of the players who have gone on to play in the NBA.
1986 – Greg Dreiling; Kevin Duckworth; Tim Kempton; Larry Krystkowiak, now the head coach at the University of Montana; Jim Les, head man at Bradley; Dennis Rodman; Scott Skiles, now head man with the Chicago Bulls; Otis Smith, the General Manager of the Orlando Magic; and Milt Wagner.
1987 – Tyrone Bogues; Chris Dudley; Doug Lee; Scottie Pippen, like Stockton a member of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History; Tommy Amaker, now head coach at Michigan and Andy Kennedy, the new head coach at Ole Miss.
1988 – Andrew Lang; Anthony Mason; Tim Legler, now a successful TV analyst; Tito Horford; Vinny Del Negro; Vernon Maxwell; Grant Long and Tom Tolbert.
1989 – Mookie Blaylock, Chuckie Brown, Chris Childs, and Jeff Lebo.
1990 – Greg Foster; Keith Atkins; Mike Mitchell; Elden Campbell; Lane Blanks, now an executive with the Cleveland Cavaliers; Irving Thomas, now a scout with the Los Angeles Lakers and Kevin Pritchard, now Director of Player Personnel for the Portland Trailblazers.
And here are some of the others from 1990 thru last year, many of whom are still active players:
Malik Allen (2000), Tony Allen (2004), Gilbert Arenas (2001), Trevor Ariza (2004), Chuckie Atkins (1996), Rafer Alston (1998), Vin Baker (1992), Eddie Basden (2005), Brandon Bass (2004), Lonnie Baxter (2002), Charlie Bell (2001), Matt Bonner (2003), Primoz Brezec (2000), P.J. Brown (1993), Rick Brunson (1995), Jackie Butler (2004), Matt Carroll (2003), Anthony Carter (1998), Sam Cassell (1992), Doug Christie (1993), Speedy Claxton (2000), Jamal Crawford (2000), Marquis Daniels (2003), Travis Diener (2005), Todd Day (1993), Juan Dixon (2002), Chris Duhon (2004), Howard Eisley (1994), Harold Ellis (now an assistant coach with the Atlanta Hawks), Maurice Evans (2001), Reggie Evans (2002), Sherrod Ford (2005), Jeff Foster (1999), Matt Geiger (1993), Ryan Gomes (2004), Brian Grant (1994), Adrian Griffin (1995), Othella Harrington (1996), Jason Hart (2000), Udonis Haslem (2002), Trenton Hassell (2001), Chuck Hayes (2005), Eddie House (2000), Fred Hoiberg (1995), Lindsey Hunter (1992), Stephen Hunter (2001), Bobby Jackson (1997), Stephen Jackson (1997), Jerome James (1998), Marko Jaric (2000), Dahntay Jones (2003), Eddie Jones (1994), Fred Jones (2002), James Jones (2003), Popeye Jones (1993), Kyle Korver (2003), David Lee (2005), Tyron Lue (1998), Mark Madsen (2000), Jamaal Magloire (1999), Jason Maxiell (2005), Rawle Marshall (2005), Aaron McKie (1994), Sam Mitchell (1994), Sean Marks (1998), Brad Miller (1998), Lamont Murray (1994), Ronald Murray (2002), Eduardo Najera (2000), Jameer Nelson (2003), Charles Outlaw (1992), Jannero Pargo (2002), Smush Parker (2002), Ruben Patterson (1998), Eric Piatkowski (1994), Scot Pollard (1997), Ronnie Price (2005), Tayshaun Prince (2002), Vitaly Potapenko (1996), Theo Ratliff (1995), Michael Redd (2000), Jalen Rose (1994), Malik Rose (1996), John Salmons (2002), Luke Schenscher (2005), Pape Sow (2004), Brian Scalabrine (2001), Bobby Simmons (2001), Brian Skinner (1998), Eric Snow (1995), Latrell Sprewell (1993), Salim Stoudamire (2005), Kenny Thomas (1999), Ronnie Turiaf (2005), Beno Udrih (2004), Luke Walton (2003), Earl Watson (2001), Bonzi Wells (1998), Delonte West (2004), Robert Whaley (2005), Mo Williams (2003) and Bracey Wright (2005).
And the above is not a total list.
This year’s camp is shaping up as the best one in many years. Maybe Mickey and Minnie will drop by.