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Draft Buzz 4/21/04

Sat, 04/24/2004 - 9:55pm

By Aran Smith

[img_assist|nid=4549|title=Luol Deng|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=200|height=292]

Luol Deng In

Sources close to the program indicate that Duke freshman SF Luol Deng has decided to enter the draft. Look for an announcement in the next week. Deng had said all along that he would return to Duke for his sophomore season. And up until a week ago it appeared he had his mind made up.

With a strong family background pushing him to further his education, Deng had seemed a lock to return to school. However the same was the case for Chris Bosh a year ago, and when the early entry date started to approach, turning down top 5 status became too much to overcome.

Duke had him playing much of the time in the post which didn't help to progress his creative ability off the dribble. Bosh ended up as the 4th pick in the draft last year, but was given a lot more freedom to face the basket from the perimeter in his first year.

It appears someone has talked some sense into Deng. As a lock for a top 5 selection, it's a no brainer to leave for the NBA. With the possibility of an injury or damaging his draft stock with an additional year, the smart move is to enter the NBA and continue his education during the offseason.

With the only downside being a year less ready to tackle the top players in the world. However with Deng's advanced skill set in place, he will need less time adjusting to the NBA as the average 18-19 year old making the jump.

Coach K is in Peoria right now making a last effort to persuade Shaun Livingston to go to Duke next year.

Year of the High Schooler

[img_assist|nid=4550|title=Dwight Howard - photo: AJC.com|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=200|height=317]

It now appears that eight high schoolers will eventually declare for the draft. All eight could possibly get into the first, with a chance of one or two slipping into the second without promises. It's definitely a deep class of high school seniors, and with a depleted talent pool of college and International players, look for this to be a milestone year for high schoolers.

Prior to this year, 2001 had the most high schoolers get into the first round with four: Kwame Brown, Tyson Chandler, Eddy Curry, and Sagana Diop all within the top 8 picks.

Last year saw four high schoolers get into the first round with LeBron, Travis Outlaw, Kendrick Perkins and Ndudi Ebi in the first.

It's fair to say that players on the level with Kobe, KG, and LeBron that can come into the NBA and instantly compete, can make the jump without diminishing their long term potential.
However for second tier players, guys like: Deshawn Stevenson, Jonathan Bender, Ndudi Ebi, being able to progress against players their own age and level of development nurtures their game allowing them more long term potential.

Look for most of the high schoolers to have little to no impact next year as they are, for the most part, projects with great upside, but not without few years under their belts.

Dwight Howard recently declared, and has been impressive in the HS All Star games, but his nastiness and hustle leaves something to be desired, especially for a post player.

Josh Smith
announced and is all potential, but a team will have to be patient with him.

Dorell Wright
is a player with nice upside, but falls into the category of second tier player that would benefit from college. There are some rumors that he may have a promise in the late first round. He has said he wants a top 20 promise, but likely would settle for one anywhere in the first.

The 5 still expected to declare are: Shaun Livingston, JR Smith, Sebastian Telfair, Al Jefferson, Robert Swift.

There's a chance that Randolph Morris will enter, but word is he's leaning toward going to college for a year or two.

Marvin Williams has decided to go to UNC which should ultimately help him become a better NBA player in the long run.

PR Move

[img_assist|nid=4551|title=Peter John Ramos|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=150|height=224]According to sources Puerto Rican bigman Peter John Ramos is now getting first round consideration. Sources from NBA teams have said that while they personally aren't as high on him, they hear that he is getting first round consideration.

The talent and size are obvious. He has rare size that few in the NBA have. He also can get up and down the floor with decent speed and quickness so that isn't an issue either.

The real questions center around his mental makeup. He is known to lose his concentration easily and go through periods of inconsistency. His temper has even gotten the best of him at times.

In the summer at the 2003 World Junior Championships, in Thessaloniki, Greece, Ramos averaged 11 points, 11.5 rebounds, 2.3 blocks, and 48% shooting. But he was an enigma on the court. Never dominating, and for the most part looking either lost or unmotivated.

At the 2003 Global Games, Ramos showed nice potential. However many wrote him off as a headcase. Saying he would never be able to adapt to the NBA and play within a team concept.

The real talent in Puerto Rico however is a 1987 born wing named Ricky Sanchez. A sweet shooting, though extremely skinny, 6-10 guard. Sanchez has great fluidity, length, and a superb shooting stroke with range. He'll need to gain strength and continue to develop, but his upside is among the top 10 or so International players in his age group.

More Buzz

Much maligned Ivan Chiriaev will get a chance to show his stuff to NBA scouts in the All Canada All Star game on May 8th, 2004 at The Hershey Centre in Mississauga, Ontario.

A number of NBA scouts still have not seen Chiriaev, so this will be a big game for him. Chiriaev was scheduled to play in the Hoops Summit game but was unable to acquire the necessary visa to make the trip.

Russian Bigman Pavel Podkolzine is out 3-4 weeks with a broken right hand. It's not considered to be too damaging a blow to his draft stock, but a month off wont help, besides maybe getting some practice using his off hand.

Small Forward Rankings

Luol Deng 6-8 220 SF Duke Fr. -- Deng has arms that go for days (check photo above) and a warriors mentality. His jumpshot is very good and he really has no glaring weaknesses. He never seems to smile on the court, but that's nitpicking, not everyone has the personality of Magic Johnson. Look for Deng to have a very good NBA career. He's not a superstar prospect, but he can be very good.

Josh Smith 6-8 220 SF Smyrna, GA HSSr. -- The best overall athlete in the draft. Has a nice set shot but still must work to develop a shot off the dribble. Without this, his ability as a go to player is limited. He likes to compare himself to McGrady, but Vince Carter is the obvious comparison for him. His gravity defying antics will be Sportscenter highlights for the next decade. His upside is tremendous, but he lacks refinement. He has more upside than Deng, but is not the sure bet.

Ivan Chiriaev 7-1 245 SF (Russia) 1984 -- The next "Uber-freak", he's a legit wing with the quickness to play on the perimeter, and ball handling and shooting skills never seen in a player his size. He has the same toughness and killer instinct and Pau and Dirk and he combines Dirk's shot with Pau's ball handling. A unique talent that has had little exposure.

Ryan Gomes 6-7 238 SF Providence Jr. -- Post guy turned wing. His post skills wont go to waste as wings that can post up are a plus. Some wonder if his athleticism is up to par. He's definitely "big boned" and could stand to lose a few more pounds and possibly get quicker. His wing skills have improved dramatically and his scoring ability and touch are outstanding. Anyone that goes from not shooting a 3 (last year), to 29/87 from the arc the next (this) season, shows that they have great work ethic to focus on aspects of their game and improve upon them.

Dorell Wright 6-8 215 SG/SF Los Angeles, CA HSSr. -- Recently put his name in the draft hopper. Raw talent with makings of a McGrady type player with the creativity off the dribble, and scoring ability. He's one of those guys that breaks your heart by announcing for the draft with the thought of what could have been. Not to say he can't be a great player, but he will be a guppy swimming with sharks, and wont have the luxury of developing his game against inferior talent if he stays in the draft. It's possible his transcript wouldn't have allowed him to get eligible next year, so this could be a factor.

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