Hornets Draft Workouts: Day 1

Tuesday, June 10, 2008
By: Jim Eichenhofer and Nick O'Hayre, Hornets.com

Two names with connections to the New Orleans area and the Hornets organization were among the six players on hand at opening day of the team’s NBA draft workouts: Jeremy Pargo, younger brother of Hornets guard Jannero Pargo; and Vanderbilt all-time leading scorer Shan Foster, a native of nearby Kenner. Foster played scholastically at Kenner’s Bonnabel High.
Also on the list of invitees Tuesday: Sonny Weems (Arkansas), Trent Plaisted (BYU), Othello Hunter (Ohio State) and Antoine Agudio (Hofstra). Hornets.com interviewed each of the six workout participants after Tuesday’s session. We also caught up with Jannero Pargo for an offseason update that you can listen to in our Audio Archives section:

JEREMY PARGO, Gonzaga, guard, 6-2, 219 pounds
(For more from Jeremy Pargo, visit Hornets.com’s Audio Archives page)
NBADraft.net projection: Undrafted
Strengths (courtesy NBA Scouting Services): “Strong, athletic and hard-nosed point guard that has successfully made the transition from shooting guard. Uses his strength and quickness to his advantage on the drive and on the defensive end.”

Q: What areas of your game are you trying to improve or prove to scouts that they aren’t weaknesses?
A: I need to prove that I can make better decisions with the ball. I think I can do a good job of getting guys the ball in the right situations. I think people realize I can do that, but I (want to) make less turnovers and better decisions, play within myself, let the game come to me and slow down a bit.

SHAN FOSTER, Vanderbilt, guard/forward, 6-6, 205 pounds
NBADraft.net projection
: Undrafted
Strengths: “Good size and length for the shooting guard position. Terrific deep stroke with a quick release. Knows how to work screens to get open, catch and shoot.”

Q: Does staying all four years in college give you an advantage over some of the other players?
A: I don’t know if it gives me an advantage or not. Four years is a long time, it was a lot of hard work and dedication that went into it. Hopefully I can be a little bit smarter with some of the things I do on the court because of it, and just come out and play hard.

Q: Being that you grew up in Kenner and attended Bonnabel High School, what would it mean to come play for the Hornets in your hometown?
A: It would be great, I relish the opportunity. I was just telling the GM (Jeff Bower) that I would love to come back and play in front of this home crowd. You know, I only live 10 minutes away from here, and it would just be a great opportunity.

Q: What could you bring to a team like the Hornets, or any other NBA team?
A: A great attitude towards the game. I love the game, I play hard defensively, shoot the ball well from three, so I would be able to stretch the defense. Just bring a great mentality towards the game.

Q: What areas of your game are you trying to improve to be successful at the next level?
A: Definitely my ballhandling, being a little more fluid with the ball. Moving without the ball, and you can always be a better defender.

SONNY WEEMS, Arkansas, guard/forward, 6-6, 203 pounds
NBADraft.net projection: No. 34 pick to Minnesota
Strengths: “Elite athlete who is continuing to refine his basketball knowledge and skills. Is quick to the basket and has the ability to catch fire from the perimeter.”

Q: Which players do you compare yourself to in the NBA in terms of your style of play?
A: Probably Andre Iguodala (Philadelphia 76ers). The way he runs the floor and defends and rebounds. But I think I can probably dribble a little bit better than he can and shoot a little bit better than he can.

Q: What do you know about the Hornets and what are some things that would make you want to get drafted here?
A: Their point guard. They have a great point guard. He can make you like an All-Star. The way he passes the ball, the way he gets his team to run the floor, so that is what intrigues me the most.

Q: What areas of your game are you trying to improve or prove to scouts that they aren’t weaknesses?
A: A lot of people don’t think I can shoot that well. I’m just trying to prove that I can shoot, handle the ball a little bit and that I’m a competitor.

Q: Who is your draft sleeper, a guy who is not getting much publicity right now but has a chance to be a very solid player in the NBA?
A: Darnell Jackson from Kansas. I think everyone is sleeping on him. I think he can make a big difference for a lot of teams.

TRENT PLAISTED, BYU, forward, 6-11, 245 pounds
NBADraft.net projection: No. 49 pick to Golden State
Strengths: “Long and athletic post player that runs the floor well. Uses left-handed post moves to score effectively down low and has a solid face-up mid-range jumper.”

Q: Which players do you compare yourself to in the NBA in terms of your style of play?
A: The one NBA player that I think I relate to most is David Lee of the New York Knicks. Left-handed guy, he’s athletic. He’s obviously a much better player than I am at this point, but coming out of college I think our games are pretty similar.

Q: What do you know about the Hornets?
A: Their pace is great. They push the ball up and down the floor and they are really exciting to watch. They’ve got the best point guard in the game in Chris Paul. Their organization is definitely on the rise and they are gonna be good for a lot of years to come.

Q: What areas of your game are you trying to improve or prove to scouts that they aren’t weaknesses?
A: I think I need to improve on a lot of things First and foremost, my ability to shoot the ball. I’m never going to be a great jump-shooter, based on what my role on an NBA team would be. But the thing that I think I am very good and gifted at is my athletic ability. I think a lot of people don’t know how athletic I am.

Q: Who is your draft sleeper, a guy who is not getting much publicity right now but has a chance to be a very solid player in the NBA?
A: It’s interesting that you ask that question. I don’t pay attention to mock drafts or where people are, so I really don’t know. I know that there is a lot of talent in this draft, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see anyone that I’ve seen (in college or workouts) go in the first or second round. But I couldn’t really tell you because I don’t pay much attention to that stuff.

OTHELLO HUNTER, Ohio State, forward, 6-8, 225 pounds
NBADraft.net projection: No. 51 pick to Dallas
Strengths: “Runs the floor extremely well and has decent touch around the basket. A prolific offensive rebounder.”

Q: You were a backup to Greg Oden during the 2006-07 college season. What did you learn from him during that year that might help you in the NBA?
A: I learned how to guard guys who are much bigger than me. He taught me to use my quickness. I knew I couldn’t body him up, so I just tried to be quicker than him.

Q: Having played against him and knowing him as well as you do, what about his game will surprise people when Oden makes his NBA debut in 2008-09?
A: His mid-range jump shot. He can knock that shot down. I don’t know how big he is now, but his body is going to help him be a dominant post player. I also think he has a great left hand. He had been working on that a lot in college.

Q: Which players do you compare yourself to in the NBA in terms of your style of play?A: Carl Landry of Houston and Paul Millsap of Utah. Those are two guys people seem to mention.

Q: What do you know about the Hornets?
A: They’re a good team. They have very good chemistry and they play hard. And they have Chris Paul, who is a Winston-Salem native like me, so that’s good. [grins]

Q: What areas of your game are you trying to improve or prove to scouts that they aren’t weaknesses?
A: Ballhandling and my mid-range jump shot.

Q: Who is your draft sleeper, a guy who is not getting much publicity right now but has a chance to be a very solid player in the NBA?
A: My former teammate at Ohio State, Jamar Butler. I think he’s underrated because of his height. He’s 6 foot and that’s kind of small for an NBA point guard, but he can shoot the lights out all day. He’s a very good player.

ANTOINE AGUDIO, Hofstra, guard, 6-3, 190 pounds
NBADraft.net projection: Undrafted
Strengths: Bio does not appear in NBA draft media guide.

Q: Which players do you compare yourself to in the NBA in terms of your style of play?
A: Anthony Parker from Toronto, and a little bit like Jannero Pargo of the Hornets. People tell me that they see me as that type of player. I look at it as a compliment, because they are both great players. To be mentioned in the same breath as them is a great accomplishment.

Q: What do you know about the Hornets?
A: They’re a fast-paced team that gets up and down. They were one of my favorite teams in the NBA to watch this year. They were an exciting young team that shared the ball and shot well. They played together and were a very well-rounded team.

Q: What areas of your game are you trying to improve or prove to scouts that they aren’t weaknesses?
A: Some people question whether I can play point guard. I don’t see myself as a point guard; I see myself as a combo guard who can play either position. I can shoot the ball as well as anybody in the country, in my opinion. I have to show people I can handle the point, passing the ball, getting other players open shots and doing what Chris Paul does here.

Q: Who is your draft sleeper, a guy who is not getting much publicity right now but has a chance to be a very solid player in the NBA?
A: Drew Neitzel of Michigan State and Ty Lawson of North Carolina. I worked out with them in Washington, D.C. Both of them are good players, work hard and were impressive to me.



Hornets to work out five prospects today

By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com

New Orleans will host its first session of draft workouts this morning in the arena. Here are the five players in attendance, along with bio information (courtesy of the team's PR staff). We'll be talking to most if not all of the players after their workout. Check the blog later today for more coverage:

Jeremy Pargo, Gonzaga
Pargo, a 6’-2” shooting guard from Gonzaga, is an early entrant candidate for the 2008 NBA Draft, declaring after his junior season. Jeremy is the younger brother of current Hornets guard Jannero Pargo. Pargo was named the West Coast Conference Player of the Year and an honorable mention All-American by the AP this season after averaging 12.1 points and a WCC-leading 6.0 assists. He scored 20 or more points five times this season, including a career-high 28 points against Oklahoma in December. Pargo averaged 12.1 points, 4.3 rebounds and 4.6 assists his sophomore season, helping lead the Bulldogs to the NIT Semifinals. Pargo is known as a strong, athletic and hard-nosed point guard that made the transition from shooting guard. He is a good finisher (uses his strength to get to the rim) and a solid defender. Pargo is projected to be a second round pick.

Sonny Weems, Arkansas
Weems, a 6’6” shooting guard from Arkansas, was named First Team All-SEC by the league coaches and Second Team honors from the AP following his senior season with the Razorbacks. He averaged a team-high 15.0 points, 4.5 rebounds and 2.6 assists in his second and final season with Arkansas (attended Arkansas-Fort Smith JUCO his first two seasons). Weems scored 20 or more points 10 times, including a career-high 31 points in the first round of the NCAA Tournament this season against Indiana. Weems recently scored the best time in the three-quarter court sprints (2.96 seconds) and the second-best score (10.58 seconds) in the lane-agility test at the NBA Pre-Draft Camp in Orlando. Hailing from Memphis, Weems is an exceptional athlete with explosive slashing ability who can catch fire from the perimeter. Weems is projected to be a second round pick.

Shan Foster, Vanderbilt
Foster, a 6’-6” shooting guard that hails from New Orleans (Bonnabel High School in Kenner), finished his four-year career at Vandy as the school’s all-time leader in scoring (2,011 points), three-pointers made (367, 2nd in SEC history) and attempted (872). He was named the SEC Player of the Year (consensus), Lowe’s Senior Class award, First Team All-America by Rivals.com and Scout.com and Second-Team All-America honors from the AP. He made a SEC-history high 134 three-pointers (47% shooting from three) his senior season after averaging 20.3 points, 4.9 rebounds in 34 games. Had a career-high 42 points, including hitting nine consecutive three-pointers, in a win over Mississippi State in February. Foster has good size and length for a shooting guard, with an excellent stroke from long distance. He works well off screens to get open. He is projected to be a late first to early second round pick.

Trent Plaisted, Brigham Young
Plaisted, a 6’11” power forward hailing from San Antonio, is an early entrant candidate for the 2008 NBA Draft after declaring following his junior season at BYU. The First Team All-Mountain West Conference player averaged 15.6 points on 54 percent shooting, a team-high 7.7 rebounds and 0.97 blocks in 35 games. He scored 20 or more points 11 times and posted eight double-doubles during his junior campaign. Plaisted earned Second Team All-MWC honors his freshman and sophomore seasons. He was granted a medical redshirt after only five games his freshman season due to a knee injury. Plaisted is a lefty who is very athletic for his size. He is projected as a late first to early second round pick.

Othello Hunter, Ohio State
Hunter, a 6’8” power forward from Ohio State, played two seasons for the Buckeyes after a two-year stint in JUCO at Hillsborough Community College. Hunter helped lead Ohio State to the NIT Title his senior season, averaging 9.9 points on 60 percent shooting (second in the Big Ten) and 6.4 rebounds in 37 games (all starts). Hunter tied his career-high with 17 points and 14 rebounds against Tennessee during the regular season. As a backup to Greg Oden, Hunter averaged 5.7 points and 4.5 rebounds his junior season. He earned honorable mention NJCAA All-American honors following his sophomore season at JUCO. The Winston-Salem native is a fierce rebounder who is very active and athletic. He is projected to be a second round pick.