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Monday, June 2, 2008
Gordon, Love look the part at pre-draft camp

By Antonio Williams
Scouts Inc.

Agents, draft positioning and age requirements have a profound effect on players and their decisions regarding the NBA draft. Therefore most of the elite prospects and sometimes even the marginal NBA prospects opt not to participate at the annual NBA pre-draft camp. The prospects choosing not to compete rely on individual workouts for NBA teams or believe a team will fulfill a verbal promise to draft them.

In today's college basketball landscape, fans expect McDonald's All-Americans to become saviors for their teams. These incredible and mostly unattainable expectations for McDonald's All-Americans can hinder their development. Many McDonald's All-Americans, and fans of the college teams for which they play, fully expect to play in college for one or two seasons. These players expect NBA teams to draft them very high. These prospects in the modern NBA draft era only expect to show up for the drills and measurements portion only of the pre-draft camp.

However, a number of these elite prospects end up playing four seasons in college and ultimately fully participating in the camp to improve their draft stock. Brian Butch, Joe Crawford, J.R. Giddens, Malik Hairston and David Padgett all entered college as McDonald's All-Americans, and with that label came the promise and expectations of short, yet very successful careers for each player. However, these players ended having mostly inconsistent college careers and found themselves battling to improve draft positioning at last week's camp in Orlando.

This year's NBA pre-draft camp featured a group of elite prospects, led by Kevin Love and Derrick Rose, who earned the distinguished McDonald's All-American honor and went on to have success in college. This group also features a number of members from the very talented Class of 2007. These players only participated in the drills and measurements portion of the camp held on the last day.

Here is a breakdown of their performances in the drills.

Kevin Love
Power Forward
2007 ESPN 100 Recruiting Ranking: 1
Love looked thinner and more defined now that he has concentrated on his conditioning in preparation for the NBA. In the full court drills, Love ran the floor much better than during his college days. He will never rank as an explosive athlete, but his athleticism continues to approach a respectable level with more dedicated training. Love really impressed during the shooting portion of the drills. He displayed his outstanding ability to finish in the post with either hand. Love demonstrated his high skill level by draining a number of jump shots while on the move. He has very little wasted motion with a textbook follow-through on his jumper. Love displayed impressive range on his jump shot that easily extends out to the NBA 3-point line.

Eric Gordon
Combo Guard
2007 ESPN 100 Recruiting Ranking: 2
Gordon's body looked very thick and defined, which means he will have the strength necessary to take contact and finish in the paint in the NBA. He has so much natural ability that he made things look very easy during the workout. During the shooting drills, Gordon shot a tremendously efficient jumper, correctly using his legs to decrease the amount of effort he exerts in the upper body. His jump-shooting mechanics give him almost limitless range. Gordon has good lift on his jumper, but he tends to fall away a tad when he shoots on the move, which causes his shot to fall short at times.

O.J. Mayo
Combo Guard
2007 ESPN 100 Recruiting Ranking: 3

Mayo approached this workout in a definitive manner, bringing a high level of intensity to the drills. Mayo ran the court and finished at the rim with authority during full-court drills. He led through example and vocally, encouraging other players as he waited for his turn. Mayo shot the ball well during the workout, displaying a nice, high release and good follow-through. He also did not jump too high on the jumper, releasing the ball at the correct spot in his jump.

Derrick Rose
Point Guard
2007 ESPN 100 Recruiting Ranking: 5

Rose exhibited the open-court attributes that will make him one of the top two picks in the upcoming NBA draft. He has electric quickness and leaping ability, which make him an absolute terror on the break. Rose also displayed his ability to change speeds off the dribble, which makes him nearly impossible to contain. Rose struggled some shooting the basketball from the perimeter. He has a tendency to shoot his jumper on the way down and will have to work out the small hitch he has in his shot, which may result from him not shooting at the apex of his jump. Rose, however, has good follow-through and should have no problems correcting his shot.

Michael Beasley
Power Forward
2007 ESPN 100 Recruiting Ranking: 8
Beasley did not go through the big-man drills with the post players; he instead opted to work out with the perimeter players. Beasley shot the ball very well from the perimeter, showing he has the ability to connect on the NBA 3-pointer. This lefty has nice form on his jumper and will play very well in pick-and-pop and high-low offensive alignments. Beasley ran the floor hard and has good, but not great, athleticism. As he plays more on the perimeter, Beasley will have to get lower to the ground and not play as straight up when he drives to the basket; he could get knocked off balance by bigger, stronger defenders if he does not establish a lower, stronger base.

Jerryd Bayless
Combo Guard
2007 ESPN 100 Recruiting Ranking: 13
Bayless coasted through the drills initially but picked up his intensity as the workout progressed. In the beginning, he struggled a little with his shooting, but he shot the ball much better later in the workout. Bayless did show the nice lift he has on his jumper and his considerable athletic ability. When he misses, he sometimes releases the ball on the way down as opposed to at the peak of his jump. He did not shoot the ball well while moving at first, but as he became more comfortable, his shooting improved dramatically.

Donte Greene
Small Forward
2007 ESPN 100 Recruiting Ranking: 18
Greene has an immense amount of ability, but he also has not refined his talent. Greene has the athleticism and shooting ability to create a number of mismatches, but his shooting consistency must improve. During the shooting drills, Greene would connect on a number of consecutive shots and then miss a bunch of consecutive jumpers. He has a tendency to kick his leg out on his jumpers, which in turn causes his shoulder alignment to move from correct alignment with the basket. Greene does have range extending to the NBA 3-point line and he handles the ball well for a player of his height, though he will have to continue to improve in this area. Greene will also have to shoot the ball on the move better -- he will have to shoot coming off screens a great deal when he plays on the perimeter in the pros.

DeAndre Jordan
Center
2007 ESPN 100 Recruiting Ranking: 26
Jordan has a long frame with a remarkable amount of room for growth and development. He will need to increase his strength and muscle in order to maintain his positioning in the post for scoring and rebounding. Jordan, a lefty, struggled when the bigs had to shoot from the perimeter, and he did not fare well when finishing in the paint with his right hand. Jordan, however, improved as the workout went on, and he has a tremendous amount of upside and capacity for development.

Anthony Randolph
Power Forward
2007 ESPN 100 Recruiting Ranking: 30
Randolph, a thin, rangy, player has very fluid movements and athleticism for a big guy. Despite his status as a power forward, Randolph, like Beasley, participated in the drills with the perimeter guys instead of the inside players. Randolph handled the ball well and ran the floor hard during full-court drills. He also looked very comfortable taking a few dribbles and shooting pull-up, midrange jumpers. Randolph also has good mechanics on his jumper, which gives him good range from the perimeter. He will have to improve his strength and add muscle; stronger defenders will have the ability to steer Randolph, as opposed to him dictating where he wants to go on the floor. His length will allow him to get his shot off over smaller defenders, and his quick first step will help him drive past bigger, slower defenders.

Antonio Williams is a recruiting coordinator for Scouts Inc. He previously worked as an NBA scout for Marty Blake Associates.