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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Where will they go in the NBA draft?

    Arizonas Hassan Adams goes up for a dunk during the second half of No. 8 seed Arizonas opening round game against No. 9 seed Wisconsin, Friday, March 17, 2006 at the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia. Arizona defeated Wisconsin 94-75, advancing to play Sunday at 11:30 a.m. MST. (Photo by Chris Coduto/Arizona Daily Wildcat)
    Chris Coduto
    Arizona’s Hassan Adams goes up for a dunk during the second half of No. 8 seed Arizona’s opening round game against No. 9 seed Wisconsin, Friday, March 17, 2006 at the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia. Arizona defeated Wisconsin 94-75, advancing to play Sunday at 11:30 a.m. MST. (Photo by Chris Coduto/Arizona Daily Wildcat)

    Wildcats and the NBA draft

    The NBA draft is 91 days away and counting. For senior guard Hassan Adams, the day will likely be a culmination of all the hard work he has put into basketball since he first started playing the game as a toddler and will serve as the new beginning to his basketball life.

    But where will he be drafted?

    Will he be a lottery pick like friend and former Wildcat forward Andre Iguodala (ninth overall in 2004, Philadelphia 76ers)?

    Will he be an early second-round pick like mentor and former Wildcat forward Luke Walton (32nd in 2003, Los Angeles Lakers)?

    Or is it possible Adams falls off the NBA radar completely like former Wildcat guard Jason Gardner (now playing in Israel)?

    If Mustafa Shakur or Marcus Williams leave early, where will each of them go? Does Chris Rodgers have a chance to sneak into the second round?

    Since Arizona head coach Lute Olson came to town, Arizona has had 13 first-round draft picks, including Channing Frye (eighth in 2005, New York Knicks) and has had someone drafted in all but five of the 23 seasons.

    Currently Adams is projected to be taken 29th by www.nbadraft.net, an NBA draft Web site, but has fluctuated up and down the draft board, rating as high as 20th at one point. Olson thinks that’s exactly where Adams will be taken.

    “”The NBA is made up of guys where if you’re a great athlete, you have a chance of making your mark in the NBA because of your athleticism because it’s more open-court,”” Olson said. “”He would be great on a team like the Suns that really gets the ball up and down the court. If I had to guess, I would guess that he would be somewhere around 20.””

    According to nbadraft.net founder Aran Smith, who predicted correctly that Channing Frye would go to the Knicks at No. 8 last year, some teams will shy away from Adams.

    “”A team like San Antonio, some of those teams, they wouldn’t look for a player that maybe has character question marks,”” Smith said. “”Maybe some of that is overblown, but the fact that he has run into trouble with the law a few times in the past year definitely doesn’t help him.

    In terms of ability and potential, he’s definitely a first-round talent but the fact that he had a subpar senior year and struggled shooting the ball on top of the off-court problems, he has been hurt to some extent. Best case, he can end up somewhere in the early 20s; worst case, he could fall into the early to mid second round.””

    As Adams prepares for the NBA draft and possibly an invite to the NBA draft camp, which will take place in Orlando this season instead of Chicago where it took place previously, he still faces a lot of questions about his game. After the second-round loss to Villanova in the NCAA Tournament March 19, Adams described what was in store for him next.

    “”Take some time off, get my body right and go from there,”” he said. “”Right now, my thoughts are just going back, backtracking this whole season, thinking about the good times and the bad times.””

    Hassan Adams


    6-foot-4 220 pounds

    Aran Smith: ‘Because of his extreme athleticism, he can (play) small forward, worst case scenario if a team decides he doesn’t have the skills to fit the two position. … He lacks a real great skill set, he’s not great at shooting off the dribble, he’s not a tremendous offensive player, he doesn’t have great range. … As a defensive player and a role player, he can fit a team pretty well.’

    Smith said Adams’ athleticism, body strength, and ability to defend were his strengths, but “”some of his skills may not have developed as some scouts wanted to see.””

    “”He lacks a real great skill set, he’s not great at shooting off the dribble, he’s not a tremendous offensive player, he doesn’t have great range,”” Smith said. “”As a defensive player and a role player, he can fit a team pretty well, and he’s definitely gotten interest from teams at the end of the first round.””

    Smith said Adams’ ability to play inside is a plus and thinks Adams showed enough ability to play the small forward position but will not be able to play shooting guard.

    “”Because of his extreme athleticism, he can (play) small forward, worst case scenario if a team decides he doesn’t have the skills to fit the two position,”” Smith said. “”It depends on the situation he falls into, but I think that’s something that plays into the success of a lot of players.””

    Shakur and Williams

    Olson has said his junior point guard, Shakur, would be the first if anyone declared early for the NBA draft, with discussions that freshman forward Williams may also test the waters. However, Olson wants the right people affecting whether or not the underclassmen take the plunge.

    Mustafa Shakur


    6-foot-3 190 pounds

    Aran Smith: ‘He has really struggled to live up to the great expectations coming as a top 10 recruit and one of the premier point guards in the country and some of that has hurt his stock some. … But it seems like he’s really getting his game together. The main thing is his jump shot. … he’s definitely an elite level athlete and if he can get his game together during the summer, he can definitely have an incredible senior year and become a first round pick.’

    “”The key thing that I’ve always told our guys here that if someone is thinking about that, they need to make sure they’re not listening to the wrong people,”” Olson said. “”You let us talk with people that are respected, that are honest, not the street agents that are gonna tell them anything they want to hear.””

    Williams is projected as the ninth overall pick in the 2007 mock draft, and Shakur is a projected second-rounder, 41st overall in 2007.

    Marcus Williams


    6-foot-7 205 pounds

    Aran Smith: ‘I think it would be premature for him to leave early. … He’s a great looking prospect but in terms of what he can bring a team right now, it’s not nearly as much has it would be in a year or two from now. His best bet would be to return to school and have a great sophomore year. I think the Arizona coaching staff wants him to be the man next year and they really turned the keys over to him at the end of this season.’

    “”He has really struggled to live up to the great expectations coming as a top-10 recruit and one of the premier point guards in the country, and some of that has hurt his stock some,”” Smith said of Shakur. “”But it seems like he’s really getting his game together. The main thing is his jump shot and altering that and concentrating too much on that, and having that have such an effect on his overall game has hurt him some.

    “”I think he’s definitely an elite-level athlete, and if he can get his game together during the summer, he can definitely have an incredible senior year and become a first round pick next year.””

    As for Williams, Smith recommends the freshman stick around for another year to develop his body. He also thinks that coming out this season may imply to scouts that there are weaknesses in Williams’ game that have yet to be uncovered.

    “”I think it would be premature for him to leave early,”” Smith said. “”Even though he’s projected to be a top-10 pick for (2007), I don’t think he would go nearly that high this draft … he would probably be in the first round. I don’t think he’s a guaranteed first-round pick, but he can probably get in there.””

    Williams was not a McDonald’s All-American but proved that he was one of the top freshmen in the country and one of the top NBA prospects, scoring 13 points per game and being named to the Pacific 10 Conference All-Freshman team.

    “”He’s a great-looking prospect, but in terms of what he can bring a team right now, it’s not nearly as much has it would be in a year or two from now,”” Smith said. “”His best bet would be to return to school and have a great sophomore year.

    “”I think the Arizona coaching staff wants him to be the man next year, and they really turned the keys over to him at the end of this season. I think it would be best for him to return.””

    The rest of the hopefuls

    Senior guard Chris Rodgers, who toyed with the NBA draft last season by declaring but not hiring an agent and coming back to school, likely will find himself on the outside looking in come draft day.

    Chris Rodgers


    6-foot-4 205 pounds

    Aran Smith: ‘I don’t think that Rodgers ends up getting drafted. He can get some tryouts for teams, and he’s a player with getting kicked off the team really hurt him. I don’t think the offensive game is really there. He’s a great defensive player, but there are a lot of concerns about the off-court stuff and getting kicked off the team.’

    “”I don’t think that Rodgers ends up getting drafted,”” Smith said. “”He can get some tryouts for teams, and he’s a player with getting kicked off the team really hurt him. I don’t think the offensive game is really there. He’s a great defensive player, but there are a lot of concerns about the off-court stuff and getting kicked off the team.””

    Junior center Kirk Walters was on the board at one point for the 2007 draft but has slipped out, as the site updates its rankings periodically. Junior forward Ivan Radenovic has not been on the draft board, but has improved dramatically each year he has been at Arizona.

    “”Walters has a little bit better shot of getting drafted just based on his size, athleticism, and strength,”” Smith said.

    As for Radenovic, the skills are not the concern as much as a lack of physical gifts.

    “”He’s a guy who can really shoot the ball,”” Smith said. “”The foot speed with him is a concern, and even though he’s got the size, I don’t think he has the strength to really play inside, and when you combine that with his lack of speed, it’s like, what position can he really fill?””

    Smith said Radenovic is unlikely to get drafted unless he improves even more during his senior season.

    Will the freshman be one and done?

    There has been some talk that incoming freshman Chase Budinger may be one and done at Arizona, but Smith thinks those rumors are premature.

    “”He’s more likely a two-to-three-year type guy, and maybe four,”” Smith said. “”He’s gonna fit into Arizona really well, and he’s gonna be a guy that can come in and do a lot right away.””

    Budinger, who stands 6-feet-6, projects to be a shooting guard at the NBA level and has the athleticism to play above the rim.

    “”He’s really improved his outside shot,”” Smith said. “”He’s really athletic, very competitive, and I look for him to be a very good player.

    The key thing that I’ve always told our guys here that if someone is thining about that, they need to make sure they’re not listening to the wrong people.
    -Lute Olson, head coach

    “”As far as being a ‘one and done’-type player, I don’t think he’s quite on that level. I think that even some of the premier guys that people are projecting as one and done may struggle more than expected and end up being two- or-three-year type of guys too.””

    The past helps the present

    The more Arizona players succeed in the NBA, the more it helps Arizona’s current bunch of NBA hopefuls. Smith said Wildcat point guards who have thrived at the next level – including Jason Terry, Damon Stoudamire, Gilbert Arenas and Mike Bibby – will help Shakur’s draft status.

    “”I think teams really associate the ability to develop a player and the coaching staff and how that plays into things,”” Smith said. “”I think the fact that Arizona in the past (has developed players), it helps future players, and I think their current players are helped by that.””

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