One of the most important moment of any pre-draft workout was a private workout between a lot of the best wing prospects that an Oregonian reporter secretly watched. Clandestine stuff! Jason Quick reported that Gay outclassed Adam Morrison and Brandon Roy.
Then the Blazers banned all reporters from all their workouts.
The Baltimore Sun's Paul McMullen has a must-read article on Rudy Gay. Here's an excerpt.
Gay renounced his last two years of collegiate eligibility in April, hired Lance Young, an agent for Octagon, and moved to an apartment in Northern Virginia. A chef prepared his meals. Afternoons were spent buffing his body in the gym with a trainer, and mornings were spent on the court with Idan Ravin, the same personal coach whose offseason clients include two other players from the Baltimore Catholic League, Anthony and Juan Dixon.
"Idan is the reason I was able to develop my game from my freshman to sophomore year at Maryland so much," said Dixon, who's now with the Portland Trail Blazers. "That's why I'm still working with him. He has a lot of passion for his work. He's going to push you."
Octagon provided the same treatment last year for Chris Paul, who left Wake Forest after his sophomore season, went to New Orleans as the fourth pick and was the NBA Rookie of the Year.
The NCAA's limits on an athlete's time, four hours per day and 20 hours per week in season, are among the reasons given for the poor fundamentals of some American players. Gay, conversely, put in long hours with Ravin, who told him to refine his dribble and stretched his defensive ability, having him guard 6-2 Justin Gray one day and 6-9 power forward Taj Gray the next.
While Ravin saw to Gay on the court, Young prepared him to meet NBA executives.
"They want the kid by himself, away from his agent, away from his entourage," Young said. "They want to see how he interacts. We prepare as if it's a job interview. We give him the general manager's biography, the coach's. Who's on the team? If they ask, how are you going to help us, have an answer. Give them some ammunition to hire you."
Bernie Bickerstaff recently called Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun to gauge Gay's persona.
"He was very positive about the kid, and I trust Calhoun," Bickerstaff said. "He said (Gay) was young and not ready to be a go-to guy. But the abilities are there; obviously the potential is there."
The Bobcats have the third overall pick and there's little doubt Gay is in the mix. Bickerstaff said when a player has such potential early -- Gay was a high school All-American and The Sporting News' freshman of the year -- the expectations aren't always fair.
"With a guy with so much talent, it always seems there's never enough," accomplished, Bickerstaff said. "Once you set a high standard, it's hell living up to it."
Gay averaged 15.2 points, 6.4 rebounds and shot 46 percent from the field -- solid numbers, but hardly dominant. He played with three other first-round candidates -- point guard Marcus Williams and big men Hilton Armstrong and Josh Boone -- so his circumstances were different from a player like Gonzaga's Adam Morrison, who had to carry his team.
"I just did what (Calhoun) asked me to do. What he needed," Gay said. "We had a stacked team -- more of a balanced team. It was tough for coach (to balance shots)."
Bickerstaff likes how Connecticut prepares players for the pros. Among ex-Huskies, he drafted Emeka Okafor and traded for Jake Voskuhl. Bickerstaff thought another UConn guy, Ben Gordon, had an exceptional workout before the Bobcats' first draft.
Okafor said part of the UConn system is teaching players skills they won't need in college but will as pros. Okafor's shooting range as a rookie was a revelation, and Gay says the NBA might be similarly surprised by his dribbling. He's a small forward who aspires to play some shooting guard.
"Ballhandling -- I got a lot better at that," Gay said. "We had a point guard who could dish it out, so I didn't do much of that."