Hill Out to Climb NBA Mountain
Posted Jun 8 2006 1:59PM
2006 NBA Pre-Draft Camp
ORLANDO, Fla., June 8 -- The simple solution was to approach the player in question and hear it straight from the horse’s mouth. Unfortunately for the camp official in search of correct pronunciation of Tedric Hill’s first name, he was already on the floor, about halfway through his first game.
For the record, it’s pronounced Ted-rick.
At the precise moment the conversation regarding Hill’s first name was taking place, Gerry McNamara hit the first of a string of three-pointers. There were no pronunciations needed in his case. Having scored 2,000-plus points at Syracuse, helping the Orange to a National Championship in 2003, there probably wasn’t a person at the Milk House Center unfamiliar with Gerry-Mac.
Such a juxtaposition of contrasts is what always makes the NBA Pre-Draft camp so interesting. McNamara could probably run for Governor in two states – New York and Pennsylvania.
Hill’s campaign for NBA acceptance has taken place at the grass roots level. He originally signed with Alabama State out of high school for the 2002-03 school year, but left the team before the season started. He then returned home to Montgomery, where he worked hanging drywall while living in a one-room residence with his mother, brother and sister. He was discovered playing in the evenings at a local recreation center and was recommended to Gulf Coast Community College head coach Jim Hatfield.
This past season, he played 14 games at Gulf Coast CC before being declared academically ineligible.
Hill scored 14 points, grabbed seven rebounds and had three steals as Team Four defeated Team 3 in Wednesday’s nightcap, 91-78. At first glance, it’s not hard to see why Hill is currently garnering interest. Listed at 6-10, Hill is an impressive run-jump athlete for his size. What makes him a bit more intriguing is the makings of some, albeit raw, offensive skills. He has decent range on his jumpshot and was able to create some shots for himself. He’ll be an interesting player to watch the rest of the week.
As for McNamara, his first made three-pointer ignited a strong overall performance. He finished with a team-high 16 points, going 4-for-6 from downtown. McNamara has his share of fans and detractors. Some scouts love his toughness and big shot ability. Others question his size and speed, and whether he can handle the physical demands of the NBA. He’s squarely on the bubble as to whether he hears his name called on draft night.
Another player in this particular game who could hear his name called on draft night is South Carolina’s Renaldo Balkman. He only scored eight points, but showed eye-popping athleticism, gliding up and down the floor and exploding around the basket.
Balkman is a junior, and it remains to be seen if he’ll keep his name in the draft. If he continues to play like he did Wednesday, there’s a good chance some team would take a flier on him in the second round.
Arizona’s Mustafa Shakur led Team Three with 13 points, to go along with five assists. Shakur is in a similar boat. Only a junior, he’s here to gauge interest. His release point on his jumpshot is extremely low and his body needs serious work, but Shakur has a pretty good handle on how to play the point. Another season in college could make a difference, although he’s said to be leaning toward staying in the draft.
Illinois James Augustine added 11 points and a game-high 11 rebounds for Team Three. He was one of the more talked about players heading into the camp, and it’s not hard to see why. At 6-10, he runs like a small forward and finds ways to score near the basket. With a little more polish, Augustine could be on the verge of a long career in the NBA.
Team Six 80, Team Five 76
In the most entertaining game of the day, Maryland’s Nik Caner-Medley scored a team-high 22 points as Team Six rallied late to defeat Team Five.
Caner-Medley scored in a variety of ways, driving to the basket and also finding his range from the perimeter. He didn’t play at the Portsmouth Invitational, placing increased value on how he performs this week. So far, so good.
Oklahoma’s Taj Gray added 10 points for Team Six. Like Caner-Medley, Gray opted not to play in Portsmouth. He began the season as a potential late-first to early second-round pick, but has seen his stock dip in recent months. Gray was very active around the basket and didn’t shy away from contact. A strong performance this week, coupled with an impressive body of work at Oklahoma could land Gray in the later part of the second round.
Team Five was ignited by nine points and a game-high 14 rebounds from Hartford’s Kenny Adeleke, not much of a surprise considering Adeleke finished second in the nation this past season in rebounding. Adeleke is coming off a strong performance in Portsmouth and has supposedly acquitted himself quite well in workouts. He excels around the basket, outworking taller opponents.
San Diego State’s Marcus Slaughter shook off an ankle injury to tally 11 points, six rebounds and four steals. He’s an obvious tweener given his size (6-8) and lack of a jumpshot. He’s a very good rebounder in traffic, with a frame that should be able to carry some extra weight. Slaughter declared for the draft in 2005, and is in the draft this year for good.
Team One 73, Team Two 72
In another entertaining contest, Ohio State’s Terence Dials scored 13 points and Villanova’s Allan Ray added 12 to help Team One to victory.
Though he’s built like a point guard, Ray is clearly being evaluated for his ability to play shooting guard in the pros. There’s no questioning his ability to shoot and put points on the board. More under-sized shooting guards are making the NBA these days, which could work in his favor. Ray will be watched closely the rest of the week.
Marquette’s Steve Novak added 11 points for Team One. Novak is what he is. Leave him open and he’s going to shoot a high percentage from deep. Teams in need of outside shooting will have to consider him in the middle of the second round.
One player who shouldn’t sweat too hard on draft night, provided he keeps his name in the draft, is UCLA’s Jordan Farmar. After looking extremely impressive in the morning drill session, Farmar did an excellent job of controlling tempo and getting others involved. Some teams have him ranked as the second-best point guard prospect in the draft and it’s not a stretch to see him being picked in the 14-20 range when it’s all said and done.
Memphis’ Darius Washington led Team Two with 14 points. Unfortunately, he only dished out one assist, which gives a good indication of the player he is and where his stock is at. Washington has good speed and can score the ball, but he struggles in the point guard role. At this stage, he’s not a good enough shooter to convince teams he can play off the ball. Washington is a sophomore and has the option to return to school, though recent reports suggest he’s in the draft for good.