Second-Round Picks Will Need Time to Heal

You can get a great deal, sometimes, when you buy slightly damaged goods — a dining room table with a scratch, or a refrigerator with a dent.

The Pacers conducted their own scratch and dent sale in the second round of the NBA Draft last Thursday, selecting two players full of promise but compromised by injuries. Ike Anigbogu, with a balky right knee, was obtained with the 47th overall pick. Edmond Sumner, with a more seriously injured left knee, was retrieved by sending cash to New Orleans for the 52nd pick.

The difference between them and a piece of furniture or an appliance, however, is that they can heal. That will be their first order of business as NBA players, and the Pacers intend to be patient. So do they, by necessity. Both watched Wednesday's practice at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Neither will participate in Summer League games in Orlando, but will accompany the team. Both also have vague return dates, although Anigbogu likely will be ready to participate in training camp and Sumner almost certainly will not.

Anigbogu is just 18 years old – he'll be 19 on Oct. 22 – but comes with a body made for the NBA at 6-foot-10 and 252 pounds. And, like most 18-year-olds who just finished their freshman year of college, he's not fully developed.

"He's a specimen, no doubt about it," said Popeye Jones, who will coach the Pacers' Summer League team. "I was standing next to him, thinking, man he might grow a little more."

Anigbogu – pronounced an-nee-BOH-goo – had surgery to repair meniscus damage to his right knee last October, and missed UCLA's first five games. He went on to average 4.7 points and four rebounds in 29 appearances. For now, the more relevant indication of his talent might be his career at Centennial High School in Corona, Calif., where he averaged 17.1 points and 9.6 rebounds and was ranked 17th in his class nationally by Scout and 25th by Rivals.

He entered the draft based on his potential rather than accomplishments. He tweaked his knee in his pre-draft workout with the Pacers, his fourth, and stopped at that point to avoid risking further injury.

"I came down off a screen and pivoted and it locked up," he said. "I didn't think it was that serious at the time."

He's being held out of Summer League as a precautionary measure, and professed to have no long-term concerns about the knee.

When available to play, Anigbogu figures to spend time with the Pacers' G League affiliate, the Fort Wayne Mad Ants. When ready to play in the NBA, he figures, at least early in his career, to be a role player along the lines of Dale Davis, something he welcomes.

"The dirty work, that's my game right now," he said.

Sumner was regarded as a future first-round draft pick two seasons ago as a redshirt freshman at Xavier, when he averaged 11 points and earned some freshman All-America honors. He suffered a major knee injury last season, tearing his ACL in a game against St. John's on Jan. 29, ending his season after 21 games. He averaged 15 points and five assists, but hit just 27 percent of his 3-point attempts.

He had knee surgery in March, and another surgery to repair his left shoulder on May 16. Those injuries drove him into the draft, because he feared having to rush back to help his college team after having been already redshirted. By catching on with an NBA team, he can be more patient in his rehabilitation.

He believes, with backing from many scouts, he would have been drafted in the first round, somewhere in the 20s, if healthy. Instead, he had to wait deep into the second round for his name to be called at the draft headquarters in Brooklyn, where he had been invited by the NBA.

"Definitely sweating up there, just sitting there, waiting and hopeful, "he said. "All I needed was for someone to take a chance on me."

The Pacers took a chance because of his raw athleticism, as well as his clean slate of intangibles. He has exceptional speed and quickness, and at 6-foot-5 offers exceptional length for a point guard. Shooting is an issue, however. He hit just 28.5 percent of his career 3-point attempts at Xavier.

"Before that, shooting was never a problem," he said. "I kind of lost confidence. It was more of a mental thing. And this year, I was having so much success finishing around the rim, I said I'm just going to stick with what I'm doing good right now."

Sumner shot around some on Monday for the first time since his shoulder surgery, but has a long way to go to become game-ready. Like Anigbogu, he's likely to play begin his professional career in Fort Wayne when he becomes healthy. Like Anigbogu, he's got time.

"When I come back, I want to make sure I'm 100 percent back," he said. "If I have to take a year off to be 100 percent healthy, that's what I want to do. I want to come into the league healthy."

No scratches, no dents.

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