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Sizing up UConn in NBA draft


Sizing up UConn in NBA draft
It's hard to argue which was the University of Connecticut men's Basketball program's most successful NBA draft. Plenty of former Huskies have heard their names called in recent years.

In 2006, four Huskies were selected in the first round and five were taken overall. In 2004, Emeka Okafor and Ben Gordon went second and third.

This year's crop of UConn products might make a name for themselves in the league, too, though the group appears to be a bit top-heavy.

The Huskies' top prospect could even equal Okafor's school record for highest pick.

With this year's draft scheduled for Thursday night, let's take a look at the talent pool from Storrs with the help of some NBA experts.

HASH GETTING HIGH MARKS --Whenever he decided to leave UConn, Hasheem Thabeet was likely to be taken early in the draft. The fact that he opted to attend college for three years probably secured his position near the top.

The Los Angeles Clippers, owners of the top pick, have zeroed in on forward Blake Griffin. And why not? The Oklahoma phenom is seemingly worthy of the top pick.

But the Memphis Grizzlies have shown plenty of interest in Thabeet at No. 2 and the 7-foot-3 native of Tanzania isn't likely to last beyond Oklahoma City at No. 3.

One NBA executive from an Eastern Conference team who wished to remain anonymous called Thabeet "a game changer" who would easily be worthy of the top pick if he had "more polished offensive skills."

Bob Zuffelato, a scout with the Toronto Raptors who has seen the Huskies play often in recent years, shares those sentiments.

"He certainly can block shots. He's an intimidating defender," said Zuffelato, the former BC head coach who was also an assistant coach in the NBA for many years. "I think he's going to have a nice career in the NBA . His offense will come. He needs constant work on it but I think it will come."

As many have, Zuffelato compared Thabeet's skills to those of another African native and NBA defensive star.

"He reminds me so much of (Dikembe) Mutombo," Zuffelato said. "I guess other people share that opinion but I see a lot of Mutombo in him."

PRICE COULD BE LOW -- In a draft that is full of point guards, A.J. Price might get somewhat caught in the shuffle.

There are whispers that Price's health -- his 3-year-old brain injury, not his surgically repaired knee -- should be a concern to potential employers, though it seems unlikely that will keep Price off the board.

"There are some questions about his defense," the Eastern Conference executive said.

Still, Price's playmaking ability and shooting will probably give him a chance to be taken in the second round.

"I'd say he's got a chance in the second round," Zuffelato said.

"He's going to have to be a point guard," Zuffelato continued. "He can score as a point guard but he's got to take what presents itself, basically, not be a score-first kind of guy. And he's got to defend point (guards)."

SIZING ADRIEN UP -- When Jeff Adrien's reach was measured as 7-foot-2 by the league, it helped explain how the 6-foot-6 forward was able to rebound so well in college. It also may have helped Adrien land a job despite his perceived lack of "size."

"I like Jeff. I've seen him a lot," Zuffelato said. "He's a hard-nosed guy. He's relentless on the boards. He's got a lot of things that you need to be effective in the league."

Adrien's height isn't necessarily going to keep him out of the league, it appears. Though he won't be taken as early and isn't perceived to be as talented as DeJuan Blair, the Pittsburgh center is evidence that smaller big men like Adrien have hope.

"You don't have to be 7 feet tall to be a forward in the league," the NBA executive said. "But you have to show the ability to compete with 7-footers and be successful."

Adrien, who had more than 1,600 points and 1,100 rebounds in college, may not hear his name called on draft day. That, however, might not be a bad thing.

"He needs to work on his outside shot but I think he's got a chance," Zuffelato said. "And if he doesn't get drafted, that's not so bad. Sometimes it's better not to be drafted. You can make your own deal; you're not bound to a team."

2009 NBA Draft Order

1, LA Clippers

2, Memphis

3, Oklahoma City

4, Sacramento

5, Washington

6, Minnesota

7, Golden State

8. N.Y. Knicks

9, Toronto

10, Milwaukee

11, N.J. Nets

12, Charlotte. 13, Indiana

14, Phoenix. 15, Detroit

16, Chicago. 17, Philadelphia

18, Minnesota (from Miami)

19, Atlanta. 20, Utah

21, New Orleans. 22, Dallas

23, Sacramento (from Houston)

24, Portland

25, Oklahoma City (from San Antonio)

26, Chicago (from Denver via Okla City)

27, Memphis (from Orlando)

28. Minnesota (from Boston)

29, LA Lakers

30, Cleveland


Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website: http://www.foxsports.com
Added: June 22, 2009

 

 
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