Monday, June 20, 2005
Bogut and Co. impress at Milwaukee workout
By Andy Katz
ST. FRANCIS, Wis. We're not sure this has ever happened before in the NBA draft.
But we saw it Monday at the Milwaukee Bucks' practice facility. A top NBA draft pick out-dressed a United States Senator and team owner on the morning of his first workout.
And, the kicker is, earlier in the day, he handed him his résumé just in case the owner was a bit unsure about whom was "interviewing" for the job of No. 1 draft pick.
Utah sophomore center Andrew Bogut showed up for his breakfast meeting with U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.) at Milwaukee's Pfister Hotel in a dapper navy blue pin-stripe suit, blue shirt and red tie. The approachable senior senator from Wisconsin was dressed a bit more casually in a shirt, slacks, a sport coat and no tie.
"I came in a suit and tie because it's a job interview," Bogut told ESPN.com Monday. "He needs me, but I need him and I respect him and his organization. They can see on paper what I've accomplished in my life and I'd like Milwaukee to be a part of that and add more slots on my résumé like NBA playoffs and NBA championships."
And what was the reaction from the senator? Well, he doesn't do interviews during the draft process but you could tell he was clearly impressed by Bogut Monday while observing his workout.
"He was surprised that I came in a suit and was well-prepared to meet with the man," Bogut said. "He's a high-powered man, a respectful person and a great person. He helps a lot of children in the Milwaukee area and I think he was shocked to see me in a suit and a tie."
Bogut's agent David Bauman certainly had Bogut's two-day visit to Milwaukee well-scripted, but Bogut was hardly a pawn. The agency had a slick promotional package ready to hand the senator about Bogut's Andrew Bogut 4 Foundation to help underprivileged youth who have been affected by emotional and financial burdens. The foundation name was born out of the four corners of the world Australia, Croatia, Utah and apparently, he hopes, Milwaukee where he has played basketball.
"I think this is rare," Bogut said of treating his workout with the Bucks as a job interview. "The approach I've taken is as a professional. I've got good people around me and my family. Some kids might go into the meetings casually and say 'you need me and you want me so pick me.' I want to show that I can be a good player for this organization on and off the court. I want to start my own foundation here."
So, that's why it was no surprise that Bogut left the breakfast meeting Monday and headed to the Boys and Girls Club of Milwaukee.
When he arrived at the Cousins Center here in suburban Milwaukee by mid-morning, he was still dressed dapper before changing into his Bucks workout gear. He measured at 6-foot-11 without shoes, 7-1 with shoes and weighed in at 254 pounds.
He said before the workout he was a bit nervous since it was his first professional workout.
But he didn't disappoint. Sure, he went through one stretch where he missed a bunch of jumpers from the right side (if you're facing up court). But he showed he could put the ball on the court, dribble, drive and dunk. He also finished his mid-range jumpers and made a few 3s.
Bucks assistant coach Bob Ociepka offered him a few water breaks during the near-hour workout but Bogut refused.
"I got offers for drink breaks but I wanted to show people that I was in shape," Bogut said. "I was huffing and puffing but I could have gone another half an hour."
Bogut's one-on-none workout (assistant Mike Sanders was in the post for a few bumps) was similar to the Bucks' Sunday workout with the other potential top choice, North Carolina freshman Marvin Williams.
"Those are tough because usually with other people you get a break for them to do their drills," Bogut said of one-on-none workouts.
But Bogut is used to being on stage. It says it right there on his résumé that he started for the Australian National Team in the Athens Olympics last August, averaging 14.8 points, grabbing 8.8 rebounds in five games. It states he outscored his U.S. counterpart Tim Duncan in an 89-79 loss (that's in there, too). And his MVP of the FIBA Junior World Championships in Greece in 2003 when he led Australia to the gold medal is listed, too.
His consensus national player of the year awards are all on the page, too, including his ESPN national player of the year (below the Wooden and Naismith awards).
"I've got more experience than anyone in th draft," Bogut said. "I played in the Olympics and won a gold medal for my country in the junior world. The teams I play for win basketball games. I've got potential too. I'm 20 years old and people forget that. I've got room for potential, too. People think I'm 22 or 23 because I've played international basketball."
That's an indirect shot at the media who couch Williams as the one who has more potential since he just turned 19 Sunday.
"I've improved every year where I've been so there's no reason why I won't get better," said Bogut, who carried the Utes to the Sweet 16.
"You can't teach experience," Bogut said.
And you can't teach height and that's why Bucks coach Terry Porter was impressed with Bogut's size Monday.
"He's very good in the post and his ball handling skills are solid and he runs the floor really well," Porter said. "He ran up and down the court very well for a 7-foot guy. He was very solid."
Bogut spent the afternoon at the doctor for a physical and is off to the eye doctor Tuesday before flying back to Washington D.C., where he has been training. He's going to the eye doctor, probably in part because there were questions raised in the Milwaukee press when his former coach Rick Majerus was quoted as saying he could have a degenerative eye disorder, something Bogut dismissed.
"I think it was a mistake on his part because I'm not sure he knew what I had," Bogut said. "It's like saying someone has a knee injury when it's a quad injury. It got blown out of proportion. My eyesight is pretty good. I can see you. My eyes aren't perfect but I wear contacts to correct it. It's fine.
"It's fine if they want to check it since I'm a multi-million dollar investment," Bogut said. "If I were playing with a degenerative eye disorder then I still got 20 [points] and 12 [rebounds at Utah]."
The Bucks aren't revealing their choice yet, even though they seem to be leaning toward choosing Bogut. Bauman said Bogut would still go to Atlanta Thursday and Friday for a workout with the Hawks, who have the second pick. Atlanta is working out Williams potentially for that spot Tuesday and Wednesday.
We're not sure if Bogut will be dressed the same for the Hawks' brass and carry with him his résumé and promotional material for his foundation. But we wouldn't be surprised. Don't be shocked if he hands his credentials on paper to NBA commissioner David Stern when he shakes his hand, possibly as the No. 1 pick on June 28. Bogut is about making a strong first impression. He certainly did Monday in Milwaukee.
Andy Katz is a senior writer at ESPN.com.