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2009 NBA Draft Early Entry List
by: DraftExpress
April 30, 2009
NCAA Players
Darion Anderson Northern Illinois
Ryan Anderson Nebraska
Dominique Archie South Carolina
DeJuan Blair Pittsburgh
Derrick Brown Xavier
Chase Budinger Arizona
Nick Calathes Florida
Earl Clark Louisville
Dwayne Collins Miami
Kareem Cooper Texas-El Paso
Kenneth Cooper Louisiana Tech
Brandon Costner North Carolina State
Stephen Curry Davidson
Bryan Davis Texas A&M
Austin Daye Gonzaga
DeMar DeRozan Southern California
Eric Devendorf Syracuse
Devan Downey South Carolina
Osiris Eldridge Illinois State
Wayne Ellington North Carolina
Chinemelu Elonu Texas A&M
Tyreke Evans Memphis
Gary Flowers Chipola JC (FL)
Jonny Flynn Syracuse
Jonathan Gibson New Mexico State
Kyle Gibson Louisiana Tech
Taj Gibson Southern California
Blake Griffin Oklahoma
D’mond Grismore Huston-Tillotson (TX)
Rogér Guignard Texas-Arlington
Daniel Hackett Southern California
Luke Harangody Notre Dame
James Harden Arizona State
Kevin Harris Northwest Mississippi CC
Paul Harris Syracuse
Gerald Henderson Duke
Jordan Hill Arizona
Jrue Holiday UCLA
Damion James Texas
James Johnson Wake Forest
Mac Koshwal DePaul
Gani Lawal Georgia Tech
Ty Lawson North Carolina
James Lewis Fresno Pacific
Darnell Lindsay Tennessee Tech
Dior Lowhorn San Francisco
Ater Majok Connecticut
Jodie Meeks Kentucky
Nate Miles Southern Idaho
Patrick Mills St. Mary's
Tasmin Mitchell LSU
B.J. Mullens Ohio State
Ronald Ogoke Paul Quinn College
Patrick Patterson Kentucky
Scottie Reynolds Villanova
D.J. Rivera Binghamton
Terrence Roderick Alabama-Birmingham
Magnum Rolle Louisiana Tech
Junior Salters Wofford
Donald Sloan Texas A&M
Tyler Smith Tennessee
DaJuan Summers Georgetown
Shawn Taggart Memphis
Jonathan Tavernari BYU
Jeff Teague Wake Forest
Hasheem Thabeet Connecticut
Malcolm Thomas San Diego City College
Dar Tucker DePaul
Jarvis Varnado Mississippi State
Greivis Vasquez Maryland
Martez Walker Riverside CC (CA)
Michael Washington Arkansas
Jeremy Wise Southern Mississippi
Nic Wise Arizona

International Players
Amadou Aboubakar Zaki Nancy (France)
Rodrigue Beaubois Cholet (France)
Nemanja Bjelica Crvena Zvezda (Serbia)
Georgios Bogris Ilysiakos (Greece)
Omri Casspi Maccabi Elite (Israel)
Victor Claver Pamesa Valencia (Spain)
Vladimir Dasic Buducnost (Montenegro)
Christian Eyenga DKV Joventut (Spain)
Vitor Faverani Unicaja Malaga (Spain)
Sergey Gladyr Mykolaiv (Ukraine)
Adam Hanga Albacomp (Hungary)
Baris Hersek Efes Pilsen (Turkey)
Rudy Jomby Le Havre (France)
Tanel Kurbas Kalev/Cramo (Estonia)
Milan Macvan Hemofarm (Serbia)
Boban Marjanovic Hemofarm (Serbia)
Tim Ohlbrecht Bamberg (Germany)
Carl Ona Embo Biella (Italy)
Nikos Pappas Real Madrid II (Spain)
Anton Ponomarev Astana Tigers (Kazakhstan)
Paulao Prestes Unicaja Malaga (Spain)
Miroslav Raduljica FMP Zeleznik (Serbia)
Fernando Raposo Pau Orthez (France)
Ricky Rubio DKV Joventut (Spain)
Evangelos Sakellariou Pagrati (Greece)
Alexandros Sigkounas (Greece)
Ludovic Vaty Pau Orthez (France)
Ibrahim Yildirim Banvit (Turkey)
Artem Zabelin CSKA Moscow (Russia)


Unknown Individuals
Andrew Altman Jarrod Jones Mark Powers Jr.
Richard N. Beadon Ryan Katchky Mohamed Rifat Rajudeen
Matthew Bentley Martin W. Kolikoli Jon Roy
Daivon Michael Brown Christopher Macon Edward Anton Joseph Sebor
Bryce Creedon Adam Michael McGowen Sheldon Thompson
Tyrone Eboigbe Marlon Michaud Mark Zito
Lawrence Gaston Justin Miller Gregory Nikolay Zubatov
Ryan Harner Barry Princeton Minor
Justin Heaven Craig Pinson


C. We have received information that the following players have signed professional basketball contracts with teams in leagues other than the NBA following the 2008 NBA Draft and rendered services under such contracts. If this information is correct, these players would also be eligible for selection in the 2009 NBA Draft. Because this information has not been verified, however, teams should do their own due diligence (as with any other draft selection) and call the League Office before picking any of these players in the 2009 NBA Draft.

Thomas Abercrombie Washington State/Waikato (Australia)
Patrick Beverley Arkansas/Dnipro (Ukraine)
Keith Clark Oklahoma/Tulsa (D-League)
Ra'Sean Dickey Georgia Tech/Budivelnyk (Ukraine)
Jeremy Fears Ohio/South Carolina-Aiken/Kapfenberg (Austria)
Sam Haanpaa Valparaiso/Fos Ouest (France)
David Huertas Florida/Mississippi/Quebradillas (Puerto Rico)
Leon Jacob Texas A&M Intl./MTSV Schwabing (Germany)
Brandon Jennings Oak Hill Academy/Lottomatica Virtus Roma (Italy)
Eric Maddox Mohawk Valley CC (NY)/N.J. Lightning (EBA)
Laurynas Mikalauskas Virginia/Kavala Panorama (Greece)
Tyrone Nelson New Mexico State/Houston (TPBL)
Juan Pablo Silveira Weber State/25 de Agosto (Uruguay)
Brandon Smith Minnesota/Minot (CBA)/Bellingham (IBL)
Ramar Smith Tennessee/AZS Koszalin (Poland)/teckpro (Germany)
Joonas Suotamo Penn State/Lappeenranta NMKY (Finland)

Feedback for this article may be sent to jonathan@draftexpress.com
 
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Bayless signs with Jeff Schwartz, other agent signings
by: Jonathan Givony - President
April 16, 2008
Related Article: Navigating Through the NBA Agent Selection Process

Jerryd Bayless has signed a representation agreement with Excel Sports Management President Jeff Schwartz, ESM’s Vice President Sam Goldfeder told DraftExpress today. “It’s a done deal,” Goldfeder said in a phone conversation this afternoon.

The freshman from Arizona had announced his intentions to enter the draft during Final Four weekend ten days ago, but did not rush into signing with an agent until now. He is projected to be selected anywhere from 3-7 according to numerous NBA executives we’ve spoken with, largely depending on the final order of the drafted lottery, which will be decided on May 20th.

The LA based Schwartz is considered one of the top agents in the NBA today, with a star-studded client list including players such as Jason Kidd, Paul Pierce, Lamar Odom, Emeka Okafor, Al Jefferson, Josh Howard, Tyson Chandler and others.

Other Agent Hirings

-The Lopez twins, Brook and Robin, both hired Wasserman Media Group’s Bob Myers to represent them in the draft.

- Eric Gordon will reportedly be represented by Rob Pelinka.

-As stated weeks ago exclusively by DraftExpress, Anthony Randolph indeed hired B.J. Armstrong of WMG.

-Devon Hardin signed with Lon Babby of Williams and Connolly.

-Jason Thompson has signed with CAA’s Andre Buck, as has Drexel’s Frank Elegar. Malik Hairston of Oregon will also be represented by CAA.

-Maarty Leunen of Oregon will be represented by Greg Lawrence of Wasserman Media Group.

-Bryce Taylor of Oregon will be represented by Priority Sports. Jaycee Carroll, Rob Kurz and Joe Ingles have also signed with Mark Bartelstein’s Chicago-based agency.

-New Mexico’s J.R. Giddens has signed with Aaron Mintz of Priority Sports.

-Courtney Lee has signed with Miami based Jason Levien, as has St. Joe’s senior Pat Calathes.

-Sonny Weems has signed with Roger Montgomery.

-Gary Forbes has signed with Bill Strickland and Blue Equity.

-Kyle Hines has signed with Lance Young of Octagon.

-Expect many more in the next week or two.

Any we missed? Send us an email below.

Feedback for this article may be sent to jonathan@draftexpress.com
 
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International Early-Entry Rumor Mill, Rule Clarification
by: Jonathan Givony - President
April 15, 2008
A number of intriguing international prospects have informed DraftExpress that they plan on entering this year's draft, including Alexis Ajinca, Nicolas Batum, Serge Ibaka, Ante Tomic and Rodrigue Beaubois. In addition, we've learned that Jeremy Pargo will be entering the draft as well. We also explore the topic of whether players can test the NBA draft waters twice...

Early-Entry Rumor Mill

Internationals Want In Too

Less we forget amongst this very talented group of NCAA draft prospects that basketball is a global sport these days, we did a little digging around to find out which international players will be submitting their name to the early-entry list on April 27th as well.

-7-1 French center Alexis Ajinca, fresh off a strong showing at the Nike Hoop Summit (which will be discussed in more depth tomorrow here on DX) this weekend, will be testing the waters for the first time this June, according to his agent Bouna Ndiyae-- “he is 100% going to be in the draft.” Ajinca has added 20 pounds to his lanky frame this year, bringing him to 240 pounds at the moment, and is getting impatient with the way he’s being developed in France. Ajinca has been seeing inconsistent minutes in Pro A with Hyeres-Toulon, even after coming up with strong outings, and at this point might be feeling that he’s better off taking a similar route to fellow Ndiaye client Ian Mahinmi, rather than sitting on the bench. Mahinmi was drafted in the late first round by the San Antonio Spurs and has spent much of the season with their affiliate (which they own) in the D-League—seeing significant playing time and looking terrific last we saw him at the D-League Showcase. Ajinca and Ndiaye will be searching for an optimal situation in terms of finding a team in the first round that will be willing to develop him. According to Ndiaye, he “has teams in the 20’s already that like him,” but thinks he could go even higher, possibly somewhere in the late lottery. Ajinca will reportedly be submitting his paperwork to officially enter the draft next week. We acquired a great deal of footage of his and will be breaking it down intently to report on his progress since the last time we evaluated him.

-Bouna Ndiaye also reconfirmed to us that his client Nicolas Batum will be in the draft this year, and sounded pretty emphatic about it. “Not only will he be in the draft, he will also be staying in the draft. He will be in the NBA next season.” Ndiaye reminded us that despite the criticism that Batum has received from NBA scouts at times this season for his inconsistency, he is still the “#1 guy on the top ranked team in France,” which according to him is something none of the French NBA players (Tony Parker, Mickael Pietrus, Boris Diaw, etc) could say before they were drafted.

-Fellow Nike Hoop Summit participant Serge Ibaka will also be testing the waters of the NBA draft, according to agent Justin Zanik of Ibaka’s American agency, ASM Sports. In contrast to Ajinca, Ibaka is regularly seeing significant playing time at a very high level of competition in the Spanish Second Division (LEB), and is averaging a solid 11 points, 8 rebounds and nearly 3 blocks per game. Only 18 years old, and not turning 19 until September, time is also clearly on Ibaka’s side. He clearly lacks great fundamentals or an advanced feel for the game at this point, but has only been playing basketball for a few years now. As we will explain below, Ibaka “can test the waters” one more time after this in 2009 if he pleases, and still make himself eligible one more time in 2010 when he’ll be in for good.

-If there weren’t enough big men on the NBA’s early-entry list already, it seems that one more is coming. Ante Tomic has told the Croatian media on more than one occasion this season that he surely plans on entering the draft again this year (he was forced to pull out in 2007), although he would prefer to spend another season or two in Europe. Tomic’s contract with KK Zagreb runs through 2012, without an NBA buyout clause, so getting out of Croatia may be a problem for him for the time being. It’s been rumored that the Philadelphia 76ers had promised to draft him with the #21 pick last year, but that he was talked out of the decision. Tomic's American agent, Marc Cornstein, told us via email that "the plan is for him to enter. We will officially enter his name in the draft later this week."

-French point guard Rodrigue Beaubois will also be entering his name in this year’s draft, according to an email sent to us by his American agent, Bill McCandless of Immortal Sports. McCandless also informed us that Beaubois will likely not be competing in the Reebok EuroCamp in Treviso, as he’s been invited to the French junior National Team, which will also be participating at the camp. Beaubois will come to the US to train and work out with NBA teams “as soon as the Pro A season is over…at least up to the underclassman withdrawal date.” This will be Beaubois’ second time in the draft, so he can still withdraw and be eligible one more time.

Rule Clarification: International Players Can Test Waters Twice

There seems to be quite a bit of confusion on the part of agents and even some NBA teams regarding how many times players can “test the waters” and withdraw their name from draft consideration. The confusion stems from the NCAA rule, which states that student-athletes can only enter the draft and withdraw once, while the current NBA Collective Bargaining Agreement allows all players to enter and withdraw twice.

Section 8 of Article X of the CBA states that “An Early Entry player who is eligible to be selected in the next NBA Draft pursuant to Section 1(b)(ii)(F) or (b)(ii)(G)(3) above shall be entitled to withdraw from such Draft by providing written notice that is received by the NBA ten (10) days prior to such Draft. A player shall not be entitled to withdraw from more than two (2) NBA Drafts.”

The bolded part is obviously the key here, and just for good measure, the NBA Player’s Association sent out a memo on April 26th of 2006 that reiterated that “a player…may…enter this year’s Draft, withdraw, and will be allowed to withdraw from one additional Draft in the future.”

Jeremy Pargo Testing Waters

-Gonzaga point guard Jeremy Pargo will be entering his name in this year’s draft without hiring an agent, sources told DraftExpress. Pargo will be looking to attend the Orlando pre-draft camp, but will return to school if he does not like where he’s projected to be drafted.

Early-Entry List Updated

-Our unofficial Early-Entry List is now up to date, as we pack up and hit the road again, this time to New York City for the Jordan Brand Classic practices and games. We'll be watching both the top American high school players, as well as the extremely young International prospects assembled.

Feedback for this article may be sent to jonathan@draftexpress.com
 
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Breaking News: Donte Greene Entering Draft
by: Jonathan Givony - President
April 8, 2008
Syracuse freshman Donte Greene will be entering this year's draft, a source with intimate knowledge of the situation told DraftExpress exclusively Tuesday. Greene, a smooth and extremely talented 6-11 wing player, was one of the most highly touted members of this year's freshman class, and finished second in the Big East in scoring. He struggled with poor shot-selection at times this season and failed to make the NCAA tournament, but will still be viewed as one of the more unique players in this year's pool due to his terrific combination of size, athleticism, perimeter skills and upside.

He's viewed by many as a late lottery pick at this point, but will have a chance to move up once he is able to showcase himself in private workouts. A formal announcement is expected in the next 24 hours. Greene will not be testing the waters and should hire an agent shortly.

Feedback for this article may be sent to jonathan@draftexpress.com
 
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Rule Changes, Early-Entry Speculation, JaVale McGee/Lopez Twins
by: Jonathan Givony - President
April 2, 2008
There are a number of rule changes that NBA agents and prospects need to be aware of as they figure out their strategy of attack for the coming months. Will the NCAA allow NBA teams to cover expenses for underclassmen workouts? Six players will now be allowed on the court in workouts, instead of just four. Introducing the Daryl Morey rule--teams are no longer allowed to conduct mass workouts in Orlando following the pre-draft camp. That, and plenty more scuttlebutt regarding early-entry prospects, including thorough breakdowns of the decisions of JaVale McGee, Brook Lopez and Robin Lopez to enter the draft.

Rules Changes

NBA Teams Paying for Underclassmen Travel Expenses?- One of the topics on tap as the NCAA prepares to meet this upcoming weekend at the Final Four in San Antonio will be regarding a proposal to let NBA teams pay for NCAA underclassmen to travel and work out privately for them in their facilities. NCAA rules currently state that underclassmen must pay their own way to travel and attend NBA private workouts, which is difficult for players coming from underprivileged families and at times makes them more likely to hire an agent early on rather than truly “testing the waters”. If this new rule indeed passes, it could lead to a flood of underclassmen entering the draft, since they would truly have nothing to lose. Who would that squeeze out? The senior class of course…which would make next week’s Portsmouth Invitational Tournament all the more important.

11:16 Update:- We've been informed that this rule has passed and received a memo from the NCAA laying out the details. We will break it down in depth shortly, but the gist is that NCAA underclassmen will no longer be limited financially by the number of workouts they can conduct between June 2nd and the pull-out deadline, June 16th.

Six Players Allowed on the Court: The NBA has also been hard at work revising their workout rules. Some executives had not given up hope on being allowed to conduct private workouts before the conclusion of the NBA pre-draft camp in early June, but that rule has been reconfirmed and extended for this year’s draft. One compromise that has been put in place allows teams to have more than just four players on the court simultaneously. Teams often have as many as eight players in their facility on any given day, but were limited to watching them play two on two (sometimes rotating players in and out) in addition to the drills they conducted. The new rule now allows them to have six players on the court at the same time, which should make for slightly more telling and interesting games, particularly for players who aren’t naturally great shot-creators.

The Daryl Morey Rule: The NBA also decided to close one “loophole” in the rules that last year allowed the Houston Rockets to organize a “workout marathon” spanning two days in Orlando immediately after the conclusion of the NBA pre-draft camp. The Rockets brought together 36 players to be evaluated in one gym by 12 NBA teams, in 9 different sessions, over multiple days, with the costs being split equally by all teams. This innovative idea gave teams involved a chance to watch a huge batch of players (some underclassmen who were able to save a significant amount of money on travel expenses, and others who did not participate in the pre-draft camp) simultaneously in a very cost effective way. The problem was that this was seen as being somewhat of a rogue event that may have hurt the credibility of the NBA pre-draft camp conducted just days prior in the same city. Ever conscious of anything that might cause players not to participate in the pre-draft camp (a huge concern and the reason for most of the workout restrictions today), the NBA has decided to disallow any team besides the Magic from holding workouts in the city of Orlando in the three day span following the pre-draft camp. Thus, they’ve effectively closed the window of opportunity to bring a great deal of teams and players together while everyone was in the same city immediately at the conclusion of the camp.

Early-Entry Rumor Mill

-Ryan Anderson will be officially announcing that he's entering the NBA draft in the next day or so, and will do so in a press release through his college. Anderson is just testing the waters at this point, and will not hire an agent until he feels comfortable that he's assured of a spot in the first round.

-Multiple sources informed DraftExpress this week that the LSU freshman Anthony Randolph has decided to enter his name in the draft, and will be closing the door on returning to school shortly by hiring an agent. B.J. Armstrong of Wasserman Media Group (Arn Tellem’s agency) is expected to be his choice. A representative of WMG had no comment on the report.

-If you’re an Indiana fan hoping for some unexpected good news from Eric Gordon’s press conference later this week, we’d advise you not to hold your breath…Gordon has been shopping for an NBA agent these days, and was even seen sitting court-side at a Lakers game last week with Kobe Bryant’s agent Rob Pelinka.

-Gerald Henderson had wrist surgery this week, shelving him for 3 to 4 months and ending any possibility of him declaring for the NBA draft. Henderson will be back at Duke next season, according to sources with knowledge of the situation.

-The Blake Griffin saga continues…after Jeff Capel got the extension he so coveted, it now looks likely that he’ll be able to keep Griffin at Oklahoma for at least another season. We’ve moved him to our 2009 mock draft after receiving multiple reports that he is very likely to stay in school now.

-Tom Crean leaving Marquette might cause Dominic James to think about declaring for the NBA draft now. The problem is he already used his “draft card” last season, and would be in for good should he decide to do so. James would be wise to return to Marquette for his senior season regardless of the coaching situation—as he is not a lock to get drafted even in the second round at this point.

-Bill Walker will be testing the waters 100% from what we were told, but will hold off on signing with an agent until his draft status clears up a bit more.

-Who’s in and who’s out? Check out our updated Early-Entry List.

-I'll be hitting the road for the next 10 days, traveling to the Final Four in San Antonio at the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament in Virginia.




Early-Entry List Breakdown:

JaVale McGee

Vitals:

Size: 7-0
Weight: 237
Age: 20 years old
Class: Sophomore
Team: Nevada (21-12)
NBA Position: Center

Stats: 14.1 points, 7.3 rebounds, 2.8 blocks, .6 assist, 2.4 turnovers, 53% FG, 52.5% FT, 33% 3P, 27 minutes[/lfont]

In Short: Rare physical specimen—has an almost unprecedented combination of size, length (7-6), athleticism and fluidity, packed on a frame that should easily be able to fill out nicely. Has excellent hands, runs the floor exceptionally well, and is extremely reactive off his feet. Has an intriguing variety of skills too—the ability to knock down 3-pointers, put the ball on the floor, and execute some incredibly smooth pivot moves in the paint, finishing elegantly off the glass with excellent extension and touch. Gets off the ground impressively and can really be a factor as a shot-blocker or on the offensive glass. A late bloomer who barely played in high school and averaged just 10 minutes a game as a freshman—the sky is clearly the limit on his upside.

The problem is he’s extremely far from reaching his full potential—so far that you have to wonder if he’ll ever make it considering the way he looks at times on the court. Struggles to establish position and finish in the paint, settles for some incredibly awkward off-balance shots, and is virtually a black hole with his passing skills—averaging 4 turnovers for every 1 assist. Looks very disinterested at times, doesn’t hustle, gives up on plays, late getting back down the floor, and might be the worst man to man defender we’ve ever evaluated in the post. Gets pushed around, gambles excessively for steals, has no stance or fundamentals, doesn’t move his feet, and is a complete non-factor even against the mediocre competition he faces. According to Synergy’s “PlayType QuickTable stats,” McGee was scored on 66% of the time when being posted up in the paint (against the likes of Fresno State, Utah State, Houston, etc). Is light years away from being able to compete on an NBA level defensively, if ever.

Chances of returning to school: 0%. Surprisingly already decided to hire an agent, from the NFL ranks. Many scouts are very high on McGee, due to his incredibly high ceiling, which gives him “home run potential” once you get outside the top 10-12 players in this draft. McGee is the type of player that GMs love, but coaches hate, since he could make someone look great down the road, but will take years and years of hard work before he has any chance to do so. If he does, watch out.

Early Projection: 12-25

Source: (DraftExpress:) JaVale McGee Enters Draft, Hires Agent Roosevelt Barnes




Brook Lopez

Vitals:

Size: 7-0
Weight: 260
Age: 20 years old (yesterday)
Class: Sophomore
Team: Stanford (28-8)
NBA Position: Center

Stats: 19.3 points, 8.2 rebounds, 2.1 blocks, 1.4 assist, 2.1 turnovers, 47% FG, 79% FT, 31 minutes[/lfont]

In Short: One of the best post scorers in college basketball. Possesses rare physical tools--Tall, long, coordinated, with a good frame, nice hands, and the skill-set and smarts to be effective on both ends of the floor. Somewhat predictable since he seemingly goes to the same exact move every time on the right block, but it’s hard to question his productivity, especially considering how little help he had offensively from Stanford’s backcourt. Establishes deep position in the paint and gets to the free throw line at a very good rate, where he converts at a near-80% clip. Settles at times for bad shots, is not much of a passer out of the post, and is not the most fluid big man you’ll find around. A very solid defender, especially when it comes to hedging screens on the perimeter. Likely a very solid role player, not a star, but has the makings of an excellent long-time pro, at a position of need. Very intelligent off the court.

Chances of returning to school: 0%. No surprises here, considering how high he is projected to be drafted, and how little he has left to prove. Has stated that he will be hiring an agent, likely Bob Myers/Arn Tellem of Wasserman Media Group.

Early Projection: 3-7

Source: Statement Released to the Associated Press.




Robin Lopez

Vitals:

Size: 7-0
Weight: 255
Age: 20 years old (yesterday)
Class: Sophomore
Team: Stanford (28-8)
NBA Position: Center

Stats: 10.2 points, 5.7 rebounds, 2.3 blocks, .6 assists, 1.8 turnovers, 53.4% FG, 65% FT, 24.5 minutes[/lfont]

In Short: Tall, long, agile 7-footer with excellent hands and a very high activity level. Raw offensive prospect who drops glimpses of potential from time to time in the post—makes good, quick moves and has a decent framework of skills to build upon. Runs the floor well and is a solid offensive rebounder—not afraid to throw his skinny frame around in the paint. Plays hard and can be an excellent defender when he’s fully focused—blocking shots and being extremely physical contesting his matchup. Lacks great footwork inside and has very little scoring ability facing the basket. Intensity wavers at times and body is still far from being NBA ready. Strong intangibles.

Chances of returning to school: 0%. Has said to be in the process of hiring an agent. A likely first round pick barring poor workouts or unexpected red flags, but might be sweating on draft night if more players than expected enter their name.

Early Projection: 15-35

Feedback for this article may be sent to jonathan@draftexpress.com
 
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Breaking News: JaVale McGee Enters Draft, Hires Agent Roosevelt Barnes
by: Jonathan Givony - President
March 29, 2008
JaVale McGee has decided to jump head first into this year’s NBA draft, by hiring an agent and nullifying his remaining college eligibility, McGee confirmed to DraftExpress today. McGee is a 7-foot, long, skilled and athletic 237 pound center from Nevada who averaged 14 points, 7.3 rebounds and 2.8 blocks in this, his breakout sophomore season. When asked what made him decide to enter the draft so quickly, McGee said that he “wanted to get it off my mind and start working hard.” He stated that his mother had been talking to “NBA GMs” recently, and they informed her that McGee would be drafted from the “late lottery to 20” portion of the draft, which in his words, “sounds about right” and “can’t get any better.”

McGee made the interesting decision to sign with one of the top agents in the NFL draft, Eugene Parker*, a former basketball standout at Purdue and 5th round NBA draft pick in 1978 by the San Antonio Spurs, who made a name for himself representing top football players such as Emmitt Smith, Deion Sanders, Ray Lewis, and many others. McGee stated that Parker is not just a top NFL agent, but is one of the “top agents amongst all agents,” and confirmed that he expects him to be helpful on the marketing side of things in particular.

Parker is currently not listed as being a certified NBA agent in the most recent Players Association Agent Listing, and did not immediately respond to multiple phone messages seeking comment Saturday afternoon. The NBPA certification process typically takes 8-12 weeks, although an uncertified agent can advise the player, talk to teams and marketing groups on his behalf, and only needs to be officially certified by the day of the NBA draft.

Most executives DraftExpress spoke with over the past few weeks had McGee firmly slated as a first round pick, with some even going as far as to rate him as a potential late lottery selection. He is an extremely raw prospect physically and experience-wise, but is considered to have great upside due to his combination of size, athleticism, length, and budding skills facing the basket. After the Elite Eight we will provide an up-to-date in-depth scouting report, as we recently acquired a number of games of his from February and March.

*Update: DraftExpress was informed by agent Paul Lawrence of Eugene Parker’s agency Maximum Sports that McGee will actually be represented by Roosevelt Barnes, who is Parker’s partner in the firm, and not Parker himself. We apologize for the error.

Feedback for this article may be sent to jonathan@draftexpress.com
 
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Early-Entry List Evaluation (Derrick Caracter, Robert Vaden)
by: Jonathan Givony - President
March 28, 2008
Early-Entry List Breakdown:

Derrick Caracter

Vitals:

Size: 6-9 (possibly 6-8)
Weight: 265
Age: 19 years old (turns 20 May 4th)
Class: Sophomore
Team: Louisville (27-8)
NBA Position: Power Forward

Stats: 8.5 points, 4.6 rebounds, .9 blocks, .5 assists, 1.8 turnovers, 56% FG, 64% FT, 17 minutes

In Short: Strong, fluid, immensely talented big man who can create shots for himself with his back to the basket as well anyone else in this draft. Has quick feet, great hands, soft touch, and the ability to score in a variety of ways around the basket. An excellent offensive rebounder. A terrible defender who will likely struggle translating his skill-level to the pros due to his poor conditioning, below average size, and inability to face the basket, find the open man or hit mid-range jumpers the way a true power forward should. A troubled young man who has been given every opportunity to change his ways and has proven himself incapable of discipline. Rejects being coached, does not abide by rules, cannot stay in shape, and thus will likely be deemed as being far more trouble than he’s worth by NBA teams.

Chances of returning to school: 0%. The question here is more “will Louisville want him back” rather than will he have any type of choice. “I have never seen anyone so far behind in the game of life,” said Louisville coach Rick Pitino about him.

Most college athletes have things like “enjoys playing chess,” and “feeds homeless children in his free time” on their college bio--Caracter has “Missed 16 games as a freshman due to off the court issues, playing in 18 games overall…missed five days in late December when he was given an indefinite leave of absence by Pitino so he could address personal issues…missed six games in Jan./Feb. after breaking the contract he had signed to remain on the team” and “Lost more than 50 pounds, down from 318 pounds when he arrived on campus as a freshman, to his playing weight of 265 with less than 10 percent body fat” on his.

Caracter likely made a fool of Rick Pitino one time too many, with Samardo Samuels coming in, there doesn’t appear to be any real need for him. He played a stopgap role out of convenience for both parties this season when David Padgett was injured or needed a blow on the bench, but it was pretty obvious that he won’t be welcomed back. He was suspended numerous times over the past few years, and after being brought back to the team under the urging of his teammates, and signing a contract, broke his curfew not once, but twice in the same night. Here is a full transcript of a press conference Rick Pitino had on the subject, which goes into a lot more depth.

For Caracter to even be on this list while his team is still alive in the NCAA tournament tells us all we need to know basically—he could have waited until the season is over as is the norm before announcing the inevitable, but in typical fashion, decided to march to his own drum.

Some team might take a gamble on him in the 2nd round—certain teams who don’t mind cutting corners will take anyone with a pulse if they think they have talent, regardless of chemistry issues or distractions it might cause—but how long he sticks in the NBA is anyone’s guess. He could also just as easily go undrafted. Luckily for him, there will always be an overseas market for back to the basket centers who can score, but he’ll never play at as high a level or make as much money as he should if he doesn’t change his ways dramatically. Then again…he could always mature at some point…but that’s a big maybe if history is any indication.

Early Projection: 35-Undrafted

Source: Jeff Goodman (Fox Sports): Louisville sophomore Caracter to go pro




Robert Vaden

Vitals:

Size: 6-5
Weight: 207
Age: 23 years old
Class: Junior
Team: UAB (23-11)
NBA Position: Shooting Guard

Stats: 21.1 points, 3.5 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 2.9 turnovers, 41% FG, 40% 3P, 86% FT, 35.5 minutes

In Short: Strong shooting guard with solid size for his position, but below average athleticism. The 2nd most prolific 3-pointer shooter in the NCAA amongst all draft prospects at 4.3 per game. 2/3rds of his field goal attempts came from behind the arc, which tells you how reliant he is on that part of his game. Regardless, hit a good percentage at 40%. Can get and hit contested shots in a variety of ways—off screens, pulling up off the dribble, or on the catch and shoot. Average ball-handler who struggles creating his own shot and finishing due to his below average athleticism. Lateral quickness is questionable, leaving his ability to defend NBA shooting guards a mystery.

Chances of returning to school: 85%. All indications from the article declaring his intentions to enter the draft are that he is planning on being back next season if he’s not projected as a first round pick, which is unlikely. Like many other juniors we’ll see testing the waters this spring, Vaden has nothing to lose, so there is no reason for him not to use his “draft card” as a means of drawing exposure, possibly get an invite to the pre-draft camp, and help prepare him for next year through the experience he’ll garner, when he’ll be in for good—as long as he doesn’t hire an agent.

Early Projection: Late 2nd round to undrafted

Source: Steve Irvine (Birmingham News): UAB's Vaden will test NBA Draft waters.

Feedback for this article may be sent to jonathan@draftexpress.com
 
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Early-Entry List Evaluation, Rumor Mill (Hendrix, Shawn James)
by: Jonathan Givony - President
March 27, 2008
Early-Entry Rumor Mill—Centers Dominate

-Kosta Koufos is an interesting name to keep an eye on. Most NBA execs assumed he would surely be back in Columbus next season after the underwhelming freshman season he’s had, but there has been a great deal of chatter coming out of Greece these past few weeks that Koufos and his mother are not so quietly exploring their overseas options. Koufos turned down significant money from both of the top teams in Greece to play for Ohio State, but his (and his mother’s) relationship with Thad Matta apparently isn’t the best. If he decides to leave Ohio State, he could enter the draft this year (where he’s likely a mid to late first round pick), or play in Greece for a season and try again next season. But then again, it could just be a lot of posturing that in the end sees him go back to school.

-Javale McGee is another big man who is gathering information and weighing his options regarding the NBA draft. McGee clearly could use another season in college, but NBA execs we spoke with were intrigued enough about his upside to comfortably project him as a first round pick, if not top-20.

- Sophomore Marreese Speights has been quietly discussed as a likely early-entry candidate for a few months now, but it’s not quite clear which direction he’s leaning towards at the moment. Never considered a bookworm out of high school, academics could play a factor in Speights’ decision. Scouts we spoke with love his upside and terrific scoring ability, but resoundingly agree that he needs another season in college to help improve his defensive awareness and overall mental focus. Should he decide to enter, he’s very likely a first round pick, and possibly even top-20 depending on red flags and the rest of the early-entry list.

-Don’t be too quick to pencil in DeAndre Jordan onto your 2008 mock drafts just yet…he will be meeting with the coaching staff soon to hear about their plans for him next year, and could very well decide to return for his sophomore season. Nothing has been decided quite yet, but it may be premature to assume that he’s 100% gone…

-Depending on how things go this weekend, Robin Lopez is yet another project center who could decide to enter his name in the draft pool, following in the footsteps of his twin brother Brook, who he is obviously very close with. NBA people we spoke with are somewhat split on him, but he clearly has his fans around the league, especially with the way he’s played lately.

-How many centers would that leave us with vying for the first round, if all the players above indeed decide to enter? Count them yourself:

Brook Lopez
DeAndre Jordan
Roy Hibbert
Hasheem Thabeet
Marreese Speights
Kosta Koufos
JaVale McGee
Robin Lopez
DeVon Hardin
Jason Thompson
Nikola Pekovic
Nathan Jawai
Omer Asik
John Riek
Semih Erden

-This might go down as the largest class of project big men we’ve seen in quite some time. The problem is, once you get past Brook Lopez, there is really very little consensus on how to rank them. As one person we spoke to this week put it…you might talk to 15 different NBA teams and get 15 different rankings.

-According to the research we’ve done, on average there are only 6.6 centers drafted in the first round every year. The most in the last 10 years was 2001, with eight. So at the end of the day, someone on that list is probably going to get their feelings hurt.

Early-Entry List Breakdown:

Richard Hendrix

Vitals:

Size: 6-9 (possibly 6-8)
Weight: 255
Age: 21 years old
Class: Junior
Team: Alabama (17-16)
NBA Position: Power Forward

Stats: 17.8 points, 10.1 rebounds, 2.0 blocks, 1.6 assist, 1.7 turnovers, 60% FG, 54% FT, 31 minutes

In Short: Strong, tough, fundamentally sound big man with a nose for the ball. Willing to do the dirty work inside. An outstanding rebounder with fantastic hands. Not a highly skilled or versatile offensive player, but can score with his back to the basket a bit, is extremely efficient, and sticks to what he does best. Great intangibles—high basketball IQ, excellent passer, the son of teachers, and will graduate in 3 years from college. Not an exceptional athlete, might be an inch undersized. Lateral quickness is average for the power forward position. A low-risk prospect that projects as an energy guy/role player and doesn’t have incredible upside, but looks like a super-solid 10-year pro.

Chances of returning to school: 25%. There doesn’t seem to be a whole lot left for him to prove. He is what he is pretty much, and he isn’t getting any taller or more athletic anytime soon. Hendrix was really shortchanged by Ron Steele’s unfortunate and continuous injury problems, as Alabama had very little to offer at the guard spots. Even though Steele is coming back, there is no guarantee that he will be healthy or anywhere near the player he was two years ago. The fact that Hendrix shot 60% from the field is more of an indictment on his teammates’ ability to get him the basketball than anything, but the fact that he still managed to average 18 points per game in the SEC is clearly a feather in his cap.

Hendrix looks like the classic player that gets overlooked in favor of potential-laden underclassmen on draft day, but ends up being better than at least half the players drafted in the first round—ala Paul Millsap. He looked like a lock for the first round until 6-7 underclassmen big men surprisingly began contemplating entering the draft, which made things a bit murky for most of the players projected to be drafted in the lower-half of the first round. For that reason, he should proceed with caution.

Early Projection: 15-35

Source: Hendrix To Learn All He Can About NBA Draft




Shawn James

Vitals:

Size: 6-10 (possibly 6-9)
Weight: 225
Age: 24 years old
Class: Junior
Team: Duquesne (17-13)
NBA Position: Power Forward

Stats: 12.6 points, 6.8 rebounds, 4.0 blocks, 1 assist, 2 turnovers, 55% FG, 33% 3P, 75% FT, 24 minutes

In Short: Long and lanky shot-blocker with a very thin frame and raw offensive ability. Struggles to hold his position on the block, and his fairly mechanical. A good, but not great athlete, who possesses an incredible 7-5 wingspan. Has 3-point range on his shot, but is extremely streaky. Ranks as the second best shot-blocker in the NCAA per-40 minutes. Lack of lateral quickness limits his pro potential considerably, as he is already very unpolished offensively. At age 24, there isn’t a great deal of hope that his body or game will develop substantially in coming years.

Chances of returning to school: ?. Hard to say, since he’s not an NBA player now, and probably won’t be one next year either, but he still has a year of eligibility remaining. James signed up to play for Ron Everhart at Northeastern, and transferred with him to Duquesne in 2005-2006, which forced him to sit out a season. He was one of the (luckier) victims of the Duquesne shooting in September of 2006, taking a bullet in the foot. What is odd is that his minutes actually fell from his sophomore season at Northwestern, which makes you wonder why he even bothered transferring. Already extremely advanced age-wise, he’ll be a 25 year old senior when next year’s NCAA season starts. He might be tempted to go overseas, since his Guyanese passport qualifies him for Cotonou status in countries like France, where his shot-blocking skills would make him real commodity.

Early Projection: Late 2nd round to undrafted

Source: Inside Hoops: James to declare for NBA Draft

Feedback for this article may be sent to jonathan@draftexpress.com
 
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Early-Entry List Evaluation (J.J. Hickson, Leo Lyons)
by: Jonathan Givony - President
March 19, 2008
We kick off a new series evaluating the names of underclassmen who have decided to make themselves eligible for this year's NBA draft, starting with N.C. State's J.J. Hickson and Missouri's Leo Lyons. Are they making the right decision? Will they be returning to school? Here's our take.

J.J. Hickson


Vitals:

Size: 6-9 (possibly 6-8)
Weight: 242
Age: 19 years old
Class: Freshman
Team: N.C. State (15-16)
NBA Position: Power Forward

Stats: 14.8 points, 8.5 rebounds, 1.5 blocks, 1 assist, 2.7 turnovers, 59% FG, 29 minutes

In Short: Aggressive, long, athletic freshman power forward who likes to play and scores mostly inside, and isn’t afraid of contact. Rebounds well. Doesn’t possess a great skill level or feel for the game, and is a poor passer and average defender, but is very good at what he excels at has excellent tools to continue to improve as he is only a freshman. Needs time to develop, but is a big talent.

Chances of returning to school: 5%. N.C. State has been a mess this year, underachieving badly in conference play (finishing dead last in the ACC), and struggling with chemistry issues right from the get-go according to many reports. Hickson’s emergence, demanding plenty of touches in the paint while rarely kicking the ball back out, didn’t seem to sit too well with the rest of their talented frontcourt.

We were told by his people before the season already that he’s highly unlikely to return to school, and NBA teams were surely informed of the same. Although he will play it safe for now and not hire an agent, if Hickson hears he’s a first rounder, then he’s likely gone. Whether or not he's making the right choice remains to be seen, as he would clearly have been better suited working on his very correctable flaws (perimeter skills, defense, passing ability/team play) in college rather than hoping his new NBA team will be patient enough to stick with him until he's ready to contribute, which may not be for a while. On the other hand, with very little hope in sight for N.C. State in terms of their guard play coming in next season, there is no guarantee that his situation would be any better a year from now.

Early Projection: 15-30

Source: N.C. State's Hickson to enter name in draft




Leo Lyons


Vitals:

Size: 6-9
Weight: 225
Age: 20 years old
Class: Junior
Team: Missouri (16-16)
NBA Position: Power Forward

Stats: 13.1 points, 5.7 rebounds, .7 blocks, 1.6 assists, 1.7 turnovers, 58% FG, 22 minutes

In Short: Smooth, versatile power forward with a very high skill level facing the basket. Shoots a terrific percentage from the field and is the 11th best PF scorer in our database on a per-40 minute basis. Can create his own shot, hit mid-range jumpers, and is an excellent passer. Very far from being a complete player at this point—lacks strength, struggles with mental lapses and severe inconsistency, doesn’t always play hard, and is a very poor rebounder and defender. Largely an unknown.

Chances of returning to school: 90%. Is obviously testing the waters to get his name out in NBA circles, like a sea of other juniors will do, since they have nothing to lose. Will likely participate in the NBA Pre-Draft Camp if invited. Lyons was in Coach Mike Anderson’s dog house off and on, as he wasn’t willing to give the same effort defensively that he did on the offensive end, but at the end of the day, he will likely make the smart decision to return for his senior season, where he could be an interesting player to keep an eye on if the light bulb comes on.

Missouri suffered through a tumultuous season, plagued by injuries and off-court issues, finishing 10th in the Big 12, and they will both need him back next year and will be relying on him heavily for production, meaning he has a great opportunity in front of him if he decides to return.

Early Projection: Late 2nd round to undrafted

Source: Still not official, but sources within the Missouri program have told us as much. Media reports seem to indicate the same.

Feedback for this article may be sent to jonathan@draftexpress.com
 
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