ORLANDO, Fla., June 6 -- The venue has changed, with warm Florida breezes taking the place of cool Chicago winds, but the climate for the 2006 NBA Pre-Draft Camp – making its debut in Orlando this week – remains the same.

Some players will look to catch lightning in a bottle. In 2005, Walsh University’s Robert Whaley, whose other collegiate stops along the way included Barton County Community College and Cincinnati, played well in Chicago and was drafted in the second round (51st) by the Utah Jazz.


Luther Head pushed himself into the first round with a solid '05 camp.
Bill Baptist/NBAE/Getty Images
Others will hope to find a gentle gust that propels them into the first round. Luther Head and David Lee were viewed as solid second-round selections heading into last year’s camp. A strong showing landed both in the first round – Head (24th) to the Houston Rockets and Lee (30th) to the New York Knicks.

Eleven players who suited up in Chicago last year heard their names called on draft night. Jason Maxiell (26th to Detroit) joined Head and Lee in the first round.

There are 16 collegiate underclassmen scheduled to play this week. Some, like Texas’ Daniel Gibson, Cal State Fullerton’s Bobby Brown, and Arizona’s Mustafa Shakur, have yet to hire agents and are here to measure interest. Others, such as Iowa State’s Curtis Stinson and Will Blalock, and San Diego State Marcus Slaughter, have already secured representation and will roll the draft dice on June 28.

Marquette’s Steve Novak, Washington’s Bobby Jones and Notre Dame’s Chris Quinn headline the field of 24 players who graduated from the first pre-draft stop in Portsmouth. Novak is considered one of the best pure shooters in the draft. Jones is a rangy defender in the mold of Bruce Bowen. Quinn, with a solid package of shooting and playmaking skills, could be this year’s Travis Diener, who parlayed a strong showing in Chicago into being drafted in the second round (38th) by Orlando.

As per usual, many of this year’s top prospects are here only for the physical portion of the camp. The consensus top prospects – LSU’s Tyrus Thomas, Texas’ LaMarcus Aldridge, Gonzaga’s Adam Morrison and Washington’s Brandon Roy – will undergo physical testing, while relying on individual workouts to determine their place in the draft. Benetton Treviso’s Andrea Bargnani is still playing games in Europe.

Several borderline first-round prospects – Connecticut’s Josh Boone, Arizona’s Hassan Adams, Villanova’s Kyle Lowry and West Virginia’s Mike Gansey, won’t participate at all, hoping their overall body of work will lead to success on draft night.

It’s a risky proposition. Last year, Alabama’s Kennedy Winston and Kentucky’s Randolph Morris turned down an invitation to play and wound up going undrafted. Morris did not hire an agent and was allowed to return to school.

Pittsburgh’s Carl Krauser, Notre Dame’s Torin Francis, Wake Forest’s Eric Williams, La Salle’s Steven Smith and George Washington’s Pops Mensah-Bonsu make up the repeat-offender contingent. All participated in 2005 and opted to return to college.

Here are some players to keep an eye on this week:

Steven Smith, La Salle: Smith is back for another go-round, having tested the waters last year in Chicago. Smith played exceptionally well, and generated solid buzz before ultimately deciding to return to school for his senior season. Given the depth of this year’s draft, it’s hard to say if Smith made the right decision. He would most certainly have been drafted in the upper part of the second round in 2005. He’ll need another strong showing to solidify the same type of spot this year.

Craig Smith, Boston College: Despite earning All-America Third Team honors from The Associated Press this past season, and being one of the more decorated collegians in recent memory, Smith has yet to generate significant buzz in the months leading up to the draft, thanks in large part to a wrist injury suffered at the end of the season. Though he lacks ideal height (6-7) to play the four in the NBA, Smith is a true workhouse who finds ways to get it done.

James Augustine, Illinois: Augustine is precisely the type of big man that can have success in this type of setting. He doesn’t need the ball to be effective. He’ll run the floor, fill the lanes, crash the boards and keep people honest with an improving jumpshot. Given the need for size and the NBA, and the fact that Augustine runs like a small forward and has a toughness scouts love, he should have a solid week and could sneak into the first round on June 28.

Kenny Adeleke, Hartford: A bit of an unknown on the national stage, Adeleke spent three seasons at Hofstra before finishing up at Hartford. This past season, he was one of only two players (Nick Fazekas) to average at least 20 points and 10 rebounds. Adeleke played to strong reviews in Portsmouth, posting two strong games before suffering an elbow injury. He showed enough to earn an invite to Orlando. He’s considered a poor man’s Zach Randolph, in that he’s lefty and is very tough inside.

Darius Washington, Memphis: Recent reports have Washington staying in the draft regardless of how he plays this week, despite not being viewed as a first-round pick. More of a scorer than a distributor, he’ll need to show more point guard skills to improve his stock. Teammates Rodney Carney and Shawne Williams are here as well, but will only take part in the physical testing.

Gerry McNamara, Syracuse: There’s no disputing his toughness and penchant for making big shots. He’s also an excellent teammate. He has many of the qualities teams look for in a backup point guard. There are concerns about his quickness and ability to guard people at the NBA level. McNamara didn’t play in Portsmouth, so this is an important week. In a recent workout for the Denver Nuggets, McNamara, according to himself, bombed. He gets another chance to prove he belongs