Pre-Draft Camp: Day 1 | Marty Blake: Inside Camp

ORLANDO, Fla., May 29, 2007 — It was a decision that caught many people off guard. It could develop into a dilemma for a team looking for a young, yet talented, off guard.

Freshman Daequan Cook announced his presence with authority this past season at Ohio State, scoring 20 points in six of his first 13 collegiate games. He eventually faded into the background, as Greg Oden got healthy, Mike Conley Jr. got rolling and Ron Lewis got clutch.

That didn’t stop Cook from tossing his name into this year’s draft pool, hoping to generate first-round interest. Whether a team is willing to spend a first-round pick on a largely unproven player at this stage remains to be seen. He didn’t hire an agent, leaving him the option to swim back to Ohio State if he doesn’t like what he’s hearing over the next few weeks.

All four Ohio State players are here in Orlando this week; Oden and Conley Jr. as part of the “physical only” group of top prospects, while Lewis and Cook will play in the camp, which officially began Tuesday evening with a spirited drill session. Game action gets underway Wednesday and continues through Friday.

Here are some observations from Tuesday’s session:

Fasten Your Seatbelts — Speed will be a major factor this week. This year’s camp is filled with fast guards. They include Virginia’s Sean Singletary, Wright State’s Dashaun Wood, Marquette’s Dominic James, Southern Illinois’ Jamaal Tatum and Oregon’s Aaron Brooks. Hopefully speed doesn’t come at the expense of sound decision making.

Body by Draft — To a man, the level of conditioning appears high. Each year you can always point to a few players who didn’t get the pre-draft memo about eliminating Big Mac’s from the diet. Last year, Paul Millsap showed up woefully out of shape, carrying an extra 15 pounds. It cost him on draft night, as he slipped to Utah in the second round (47th overall). Millsap eventually shed the weight and became the player many felt he could be. Players were noticeably cut and really getting after it.

Trey Ready to Serve — Jackson State’s Trey Johnson is a little shorter than his listed height (6-5), but has a strong build and good shooting mechanics. Unlike his first name suggests, Johnson’s comfort zone is more in the 20-foot range, where he’s able to catch and get it off quick. Johnson is solidly in the second round, with a chance to play his way into the back end of the first.

Shades of Gray — Pittsburgh’s Aaron Gray is clearly in the best shape of his life, having lost about 15 pounds. It appears to have added to his mobility. Like Johnson, Gray is a likely second-round pick. His combination of size and strong character could very well translate into a long NBA career.

The Jordan Rules — Marist’s Jared Jordan took some heat for not playing at the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament, given the level of competition he faced in college. Jordan comes as advertised, in that, he can flat-out pass the basketball. He has the rare ability to see the play before it actually develops. Though not in the same class athletically with many of the smaller guards in camp, Jordan isn’t slow-footed and plays quicker than his athleticism would suggest. He has a chance to really stand out this week.

Reynolds Rolling — Virginia’s J.R. Reynolds looked sharp in Tuesday’s session, making shots and handling the ball well. He basically showed a nice polish to his game that has intrigued scouts. With combo guards once again becoming all the rage in the NBA, it’s not a stretch to see Reynolds making a roster next season.

From Greece with Game — Lithuanian native Renaldas Seibutis, who played on loan for Maroussi in Greece this season, appears for real. He showed good athleticism, knowledge of the game and a competent perimeter stroke. Seibutis is already well regarded by NBA teams, and should cement his place in the draft with a solid showing this week.

A Pair of Bulldogs — Fresno State’s Quinton Hosley and Dominic McGuire are both here this week. Hosley is a senior. McGuire is a junior, but reports claim he’s already hired an agent and will stay in the draft. Both are hard to define in a drill setting. Their strengths are more likely to show in actual games, with their ability to make athletic and unorthodox plays. Think Renaldo Balkman light.