Odum, McAdoo Highlight Pacers' First Pre-Draft Workouts

by Wheat Hotchkiss
Pacers.com Writer/Editor

The Pacers hosted their first pre-draft workouts open to the media on Thursday afternoon at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, inviting six players to work out in front of the Pacers’ coaching staff, executives, and scouts.

The six players in attendance: guards Keith Appling (Michigan State), Andre Dawkins (Duke), Jake Odum (Indiana State), and Scottie Wilbekin (Florida); as well as forwards James Michael McAdoo (North Carolina) and Ronald Roberts (St. Joseph’s). In the brief portion of the workout open to the media, head coach Frank Vogel directed players in some competitive 3-on-3 work before the prospects did some light shooting work.

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The Pacers own the 57th overall selection in the 2014 NBA Draft, to be held June 26 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn (Indiana traded its first round pick to Phoenix last summer in the deal for Luis Scola).

Each of the prospects participating in Thursday’s workout likely projects as a mid-second round pick or later. Still, there is good value to be found in the latter portions of the draft. Manu Ginobili actually went 57th overall in the 1999 NBA Draft, and has arguably had the best career of anyone in his draft class (Richard Hamilton and Shawn Marion would be two possible exceptions).

Closer to home, the Pacers drafted Lance Stephenson 40th overall in 2010. In his third and fourth years in the league, Stephenson emerged as a key cog in the starting lineup for a team that reached the conference finals both of the past two seasons.

Indiana State's Odum Auditions for Bird, Pacers

The player at Thursday’s workouts with the most local interest was Odum, who was a two-time First Team All-Missouri Valley Conference selection at Indiana State. Odum was a four-year starter for the Sycamores, averaging 13.1 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 4.6 assists per game as a senior.

At Thursday’s workout, the 6-foot-4 point guard got to work out in front of the most decorated Indiana State alum, Pacers President Larry Bird.

“He’s idolized in Terre Haute,” Odum said. “You can’t go anywhere without somebody talking about Larry Bird. So for him to be in the gym just watching me play, it’s an honor and a great opportunity.“

Odum, the all-time assists leader at Terre Haute South Vigo High School, told reporters that he hadn’t met Bird prior to Thursday’s workout, but he got a chance to speak with him briefly before the workout and planned to visit with the Hall of Famer again afterwards.

Even though he was auditioning for his hometown team and playing in front of a legend like Bird, Odum insisted he didn’t have any butterflies on Thursday.

“You can’t really be nervous,” Odum said. “I’ve been playing this game for a long time. It really doesn’t matter who comes in the gym. It’s just me and myself out here being able to work and show these guys that I can play.”

Eight players have been drafted out of Indiana State in the history of the program, but Odum is hoping to become the first since 7-foot-6 John Hollinden was picked in the ninth round in 1981. Only Bird in 1979 and Carl Nicks in 1980 have been selected in the first two rounds (the draft has been limited to two rounds since 1989).

As for what he hopes to prove, Odum said that his goal is to show that he is “improving in all parts of his game.” Odum’s assists remained steady throughout his four years in Terre Haute, but his turnovers declined significantly his senior year. The two main questions regarding the former Sycamores star seem to be his shooting (he only made 31.4 percent of his 3-point attempts as a senior) and his athleticism.

Odum said Thursday’s workout was his eighth with an NBA team and he hopes to have two or three more over the next two weeks. He has no big plans for draft night and no expectations of getting selected, but he remains committed to carving out a career at the next level.

“Obviously I’m hoping to get drafted,” Odum said Thursday. “But either way it won’t slow down my work ethic.”

McAdoo, Roberts Duel in Post

While Odum drew the biggest local interest at Thursday’s workout, probably the top prospect in attendance was McAdoo.

McAdoo projects to go in the middle-to-late second round. ESPN.com’s Chad Ford ranks the 6-foot-9 power forward as the 53rd best prospect in this year’s draft class, while DraftExpress.com ranks McAdoo 59th.

Co-MVP of the 2011 McDonald’s All-American Game, McAdoo was a coveted recruit coming out of high school. At North Carolina, McAdoo showed promise as a freshman and blossomed when given a bigger role as a sophomore, but elected not to enter the draft either year. But after a junior year in which his numbers more or less remained the same (his scoring and rebounding dipped slightly, though he did cut his turnovers down significantly from 2.7 to 1.4 per game), McAdoo decided it was time to make the leap to the next level.

McAdoo said that there “wasn’t really one single reason” behind his decision to go pro, but he just felt that it was the right timing. He’s hoping to “find his niche” at the next level through the workout process.

“Just my work ethic, I come in here every day and just try to get better as a player,” McAdoo said.

As a prospect, he has a reputation as a player who can do a lot of things well, but doesn’t have one elite skillset. He is a talented scorer with good moves around the basket and a defender capable of guarding a traditional power forward or a more perimeter-oriented player. McAdoo’s biggest weakness is likely his lack of a consistent outside shot (he was 0-for-9 from 3-point range in college).

The former Tar Heel was impressed with the Pacers’ workout, noting that it was the first team workout he’d had where the entire coaching staff present. And like Odum, McAdoo admitted it was extra special to work out in front of Bird.

“I’ve seen so many of his games and highlights and he’s one of the greatest, if not the greatest,” McAdoo said. “So it’s just a blessing to come in here and work out for his organization.”

McAdoo, a second-team All-ACC selection as junior, knows a thing or two about basketball royalty. McAdoo’s father is the second cousin of Bob McAdoo, the 1975 NBA MVP, who is currently an assistant coach with the Miami Heat. McAdoo’s father also played basketball, first at Old Dominion and then overseas in Europe.

James Michael McAdoo hasn’t talked to “uncle Bob” during the pre-draft process, as the elder McAdoo has been plenty busy with the NBA Finals, but James Michael said he hopes to continue to carry on the family tradition at the next level.

On Thursday, McAdoo primarily matched up with the other big man at the workout, Ronald Roberts. The two players have faced off against each other at multiple workouts over the past month.

Physically, Roberts is almost a carbon copy of McAdoo, which made for a compelling battle in 3-on-3 workouts. Roberts possesses exceptional athleticism and threw down a powerful two-handed dunk shortly after media entered Thursday’s workout. McAdoo later got his revenge, using a crafty move to sweep around Roberts for a layup.

Roberts was the second-leading scorer on a St. Joseph’s team that took eventual national champion Connecticut to overtime in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. His athleticism has caught the eye of a lot of scouts, but his shooting needs work even in the mid-range, something Roberts himself admitted.

Roberts comes out of the Atlantic-10, a strong conference that placed six teams in the NCAA Tournament, but has had just eight players drafted in the past nine years (and only three in the first round). Still, Roberts is hopeful that his athleticism will be what sets him apart come June 26.

“It’s what I do best – getting above the rim and dunking as hard as I (can),” Roberts said. “I just like to show my athleticism and I think it stands out more than a lot of the guys in the draft.”