Underclassmen weighing options in Chicago

CHICAGO -- Marcus Moore wants to set the record straight: he is perfectly willing to return to Washington State and play for new coach Dick Bennett.

The junior point guard said if he's not convinced that he'll be drafted in the first round June 26, then he will return to the Cougars.

"It wouldn't be a wise decision to stay in the draft if I were in the second round," Moore said. "I could go back and learn from coach Bennett. He's a really good dude. I got to know him a bit lately and I really like him and his coaching staff. I would need a guarantee to say I'd be in the first round."

Moore flourished in Paul Graham's more wide-open system at Washington State. He averaged 16.6 points per game as a sophomore and 18.2 as a junior this past season, which turned into an injury-riddled 18 games. But Moore said he would have declared for the draft regardless of a coaching change.

"It's something I would have done because I wanted to give myself a shot," Moore said. "If I don't play as well here, then I've got some heavy thinking to do."

But, again, he has no problem playing for Bennett, the former Wisconsin coach who got the Badgers to the 2000 Final Four.

"It's not that different," Moore said. "I can play slow, fast, anything. The offense is more structured for guards and big guys setting screens for guards, so it could be easier for me. It should be. The door is definitely open for me to return."

If Moore does go back to the Cougars in 2003-04, he should be a preseason first-team all-Pac-10 guard with a chance for Conference Player of the Year honors if he can lead Washington State out of the cellar.

Moore, who measured 6-foot-5 with shoes, 6-4 without, has the size NBA executives like for a point guard. He was 4-for-9 in his first game Wednesday, but had four turnovers against St. John's Marcus Hatten. But his defense on Hatten limited the high-scoring Red Storm point to just four points.

As for the rest of the early-entry candidates playing at the Chicago pre-draft camp who have an option to return to school because they haven't signed with an agent:

Maurice Williams: The Alabama sophomore point guard couldn't hang with Boston College's Troy Bell in his first game. Bell drove past Williams with ease for a team-high 17 points. Williams made three of eight shots and had five assists and one turnover, but he wasn't impressive. He measured at 6-foot without shoes, 6-2 with them on, and will have to be even more impressive to stay in the first round.

But that's if he stays in the draft.

"I feel like I'm a first-round pick," Williams said. "But I have no problem going back to school. I've got a good relationship with our coaches and they're behind me doing this."

Williams doesn't feel like he's got pressure on him to play well here, and he's not nervous. If he returns to Alabama, he knows he could be one of the top point guards in the country, not to mention the chance to team up with Kennedy Winston to form a duo that could lead the Tide back to the NCAA Tournament.

"No matter what happens, this is a great experience," Williams said.

Andre Emmett: The Texas Tech junior guard struggled Wednesday, scoring four points and making just one of five shots. But he's here to get drafted, not to just experience the camp, even though he hasn't signed with an agent.

Emmett, who averaged 21.8 points for the Red Raiders last season, would be a first-team all-Big 12 player if he returned to Lubbock. He would be a legitimate candidate with Missouri's Arthur Johnson for Preseason Conference Player of the Year. But he clearly doesn't want to go back to Tech if he can get a good vibe about being a first-round pick.

"I'm trying to get drafted. That's why I'm testing the waters," Emmett said. "I feel like I can make the first round."

Emmett hasn't been talking to the Red Raider staff during the early-entry draft process.

"I want to do what's best for Andre," Emmett said. "I have the tools. I've been there two years under coach (Bob) Knight and got better defensively. I came in as a hands-on player and he taught me how to play without the ball. I want to show that I can take it to the next level."

And what was Knight's reaction when Emmett told him he was declaring for the draft?

"He told me that it is my decision, and it is," Emmett said.

Anything other reaction?

"It was coach Knight," Emmett said.

Emmett, remember, was suspended for one game last season. He worked his way back in the good graces of Knight. But to return to Tech, he'll have to convince him again that he's willing to work for the good of the program.

Ricky Minard: Minard has already benefited just by getting an invitation to Chicago. The Morehead State guard averaged 22.5 points a game, but that's not going to play here. He was 0-for-5 in his first game and was the only player on his team to go scoreless.

Still, he said, it has already been a good experience.

"The big thing was to get the exposure and get my name out there," Minard said. "I've learned a lot. I'm trying to show that I can handle the ball and that I'm not just a scorer."

Minard is almost certain to go back to school.

Carl English: Hawaii coach Riley Wallace is happy English is going through the process, but he's hoping English opts to return to the island. It's unlikely, after he played well Wednesday. The junior guard shot 5-of-11, hit a pair of NBA 3-pointers and scored 13 points. English got noticed not only for his blonde frosted hair but also for his hustle. He was around the ball and was extremely active. But getting into the first round could still be a reach.

"I have a legitimate chance to get into the first round," English said. "I had a great experience at Hawaii, graduated early and wanted to go out while my stock was high."

English isn't fretting all of the attention on him and is confident that he'll land in a good spot. But don't expect him to be back in college next season.

Josh Powell: The N.C. State forward came to Chicago with one goal in mind: stay in the draft. And Powell doesn't seem to be shifting his approach.

There was little buzz about him before Chicago, and he didn't wow anyone in the Windy City with a 2-for-6 game and two boards Wednesday. Still, Powell is determined to stay in the draft and not return to the Wolfpack.

"I'm going to stay in and I'm comfortable with my decision," Powell said. "I'll accept the reality and I'm confident about my game. That's nothing negative toward coach (Herb) Sendek and N.C. State."

Doug Wrenn: The Washington fourth-year junior said he will stay in the draft and not return to the Huskies. Wrenn struggled to get minutes Wednesday and didn't score.

Chicago Observations

  • Marquette senior forward Robert Jackson dove on the court for a loose ball and was a perfect 3-for-3 from the field with nine rebounds Wednesday. He played well in Portsmouth and is looking like a legit second-round pick.

  • Boston College senior guard Troy Bell helped himself more than any player Wednesday. He dished out seven assists, had four steals, made all six free throws and scored a team-high 17 points. He could play his way into the first round.

  • Bell's teammate Wednesday, Arizona's Luke Walton, is a first-round talent, too, but might not crack the first 29 picks. Teams might want to draft a 19-year old foreign player rather than a 23-year old college senior. Still, Walton had nine assists, no turnovers, made five of seven shots (including both of his 3s) and finished with seven boards and 14 points.

  • The sleeper in camp might be Mississippi State senior point guard Derrick Zimmerman. He is jet quick. But his five assists were canceled out by five turnovers Wednesday. He did have the best dunk of the day with a driving slam from the right side of the lane.

  • Miami forward James Jones hit a 3-pointer and continues to prove he could be a sleeper forward who can make perimeter shots.

  • NBA scouts are intrigued by Aleksandar Vujacic because he's a 6-6 point guard and, well, he's international. He had seven assists and four turnovers, but his quickness could be a problem.

  • North Dakota forward Jerome Beasley, the sleeper at Portsmouth, helped his cause with a 5-of-6 shooting outing for 12 points in 19 minutes.

  • The best matchup of the day had to be Louisville's Marvin Stone playing against Kentucky's Marquis Estill. The former Kentucky teammates were used to defending each other in practice in Lexington before Stone transferred. Stone said it was "like old times."

    Andy Katz is a senior writer at ESPN.com.