Chicago Pre-Draft Camp, Day One

Chicago Pre-Draft Camp, Day One
Jun 12, 2005, 03:56 pm
Although there were no official games on Day One, the players were divided into teams almost immediately, and led off the camp with an hour of drills and very competitive five-on-five scrimmages. There are three courts at the Moody Bible Gym, and the teams moved from court to court so spectators could view everyone without moving. The specific drills led to players running on and off the court quite frequently, which made it much more difficult for the games to develop a flow. The gym today was packed with numerous NBA greats, GMs, scouts and other team executives.

On Thursday, private workouts will be held at Moody Bible Institute for top prospects such as Martynas Andriuskevicius, Rudy Fernandez, Ersan Ilyasova, and many others.

Despite the lack of cohesive competition, the strengths and weaknesses of many players were on full display – sometimes excessively.


John Gilchrist: Gilchrist came out looking very confident in what he brings to the table, but might not have brought the right mindset to this camp. He is dominating the ball, complaining to the non-existent officials about calls, and even argued with a teammate (Ellis Myles) during a drill. His furious clapping could be heard around the gym as he demanded the ball every time it was out of his hands for more than three seconds. In one sequence, he had the ball on a three-on-zero fastbreak, with two teammates ahead of him. He elected to keep the ball, and missed on a dunk attempt. Gilchrist remains a talented player with a great combination of athleticism and strength, and used that to score in bundles – though on average shooting percentages. His physical style of defense was a factor, but you have to wonder where his head is at sometimes. He has his work cut out for him at this camp to prove that the term PG applies to his style of play and not just his size.

Eddie Basden: He was not much of a factor Tuesday, though we expect him to make more of an impact once the actual games get underway.

Brandon Rush:


Rush is the lone high schooler at the camp this season – and it showed on Day One. He was out of his element Tuesday, being pushed around by more experienced players that are fighting for their NBA future. Rush would hit the deck every time he received the slightest bit of contact, reiterating that he needs to fill out his very promising frame. He’ll have to bring it much harder Wednesday if he is going to stand any chance here.

Ellis Myles: Had a great dunk on Drago Pasalic, but otherwise had a very tough time finding his scoring touch, and not showing his typical all-around game to affect the flow of things otherwise.

Marcin Gortat: Showed very little game Tuesday. He was pushed around constantly in the post and didn't fight back much.

Randolph Morris: A no-show, according to a memo left by the NBA that stated he had not check in to his hotel room, and therefore is assumed to have pulled out. He has a workout run by SFX Wednesday.


Carl Krauser: Krauser clearly brought his A-game Tuesday, playing tough defense, showing a lot of emotion, and playing every second like it was his last. Made some great passes, showed good quickness with the ball in his hands, took a charge, and just played with a ton of heart.

Kelenna Azubuike: Got injured in a team practice Monday night, and will be reevaluated Wednesday by doctors in Washington DC. Hopefully he’s OK, because he really needs to have a strong showing here.

Larry O’Bannon: Showed excellent range on his shot and a really nice quick release. He’s being played at the point, and you can tell that that position is new to him.

Sean Banks: While he had an off day shooting the ball, he did contribute in virtually every other facet of the game – whether it be blocking shots, pulling down monster rebounds, finding open teammates, and even playing some decent defense. It’s nice to see that much versatility in such a talented, but troubled prospect.

Drago Pasalic: Showed off a really nice perimeter stroke, but looked somewhat slow and overwhelmed physically on the defensive end.

Eddy Fobbs: Had a number of incredible blocks Tuesday thanks to his excellent athletic ability. He is extremely raw on the offensive end, but his physical attributes make him an intriguing prospect. A mild groin injury may have held him back somewhat.

Jason Klotz: A surprising invitee at this camp. He didn't disappoint. Klotz showed off some excellent range from the perimeter, which extends to the collegiate three-point line.


Anthony Roberson: Played both the point and off the ball Tuesday, but with mixed results. Didn’t look super comfortable in a playmaking role, but heated up in one game and scored consecutively on four straight possessions at the combo guard position.

Will Conroy:


One of the three best players at the camp Tuesday, Conroy fit right into his role in the drills and continued to perform in the five-on-five matchups as well. Conroy was always talking with his teammates, leading his team and playing his role to perfection. His defense was very intense, and he showed some really nice ballhandling skills to get his man off balance and make his way to the hoop for a strong finish. Really got everyone involved well – especially on the pick-and-roll. Did a nice job mixing up all facets of his game.

Salim Stoudamire: Missed his flight and is supposed to show up Wednesday to start off the camp.

Tre Simmons: Looked great on one end of the court, playing the point when Roberson was off the ball, knocking down NBA threes and getting to the basket to finish with a super smooth floater in the lane.

Dijon Thompson: Was non-existent on one end of the floor, but on another showed a very nice handle and knocked down the NBA three.

David Lee: Was played completely out of position at the small forward spot on the wing, but still managed to do a decent job regardless. Impressed with his hustle, rebounding, unselfishness and passing ability. Lee had a great putback to show off his athleticism and hit a nice 15-footer to boot. Preferred to make the extra pass on the fast break to get his teammates involved rather than try to do everything himself.

Jason Maxiell: Had a tough time offensively Tuesday, but was excellent in all other facets of the game. Most definitely leading the camp in blocked shots so far, rejecting players from the post, behind the arc, mid-range and basically changing the game with his athleticism and strength. Really impressed with his strength and tenacity, trying to tear off the rim with every dunk he had in the drills. Played about as hard as he could Tuesday.

Marcus Campbell: Absolutely huge body, decent hands, but not much in terms of skills to go along with that. Did a nice job plodding his way up and down the court, and could really be a factor here if he put his mind to it,


Dee Brown: Everybody has a different opinion about how he looked. Keep in mind that we all watched different games of theirs. Some think he showed a nice handle, and did a good job of getting his teammates involved, while also playing very nice defense. Others thought he had a very tough time mixing up his scoring with his passing, looking somewhat confused at the point, but showing a great attitude regardless.

Aaron Miles: Was his usual solid self, not surprising anyone with anything he did, but not really hurting himself in the process. Looked good leading his team, directing his teammates, playing solid defense, but once again not scoring at all.

Alan Anderson: One of the bigger disappointments of the camp Tuesday, Anderson was forcing the issue constantly by overdribbling and running into brick walls, not showing a great first step and not making up for it in other facets of the game.

Mindaugas Katelynas: Had a tough time in the ballhandling department, and seemed to be forcing the issue a bit on the offensive end. Moved well off the ball, thanks to his excellent motor, but didn’t get a chance to show off his outstanding athleticism. Did do a nice job shooting the ball, and hit a number of NBA threes in the process.

Taylor Coppenrath: Forced the issue badly at times, and either missed badly or had his shot blocked in the process. Looked a bit slow and selfish.

Torin Francis: Played extremely hard Tuesday, which is very nice to see out of such an inconsistent and sometimes passive prospect. Hit a couple of nice mid-range shots and rebounded the ball fairly well.

Dwayne Jones: Had a number of really nice blocks, and some good strong putbacks at the basket. Has absolutely no ballhandling skills, and is extremely raw besides his athletic ability. Played very hard, though.


Travis Diener:


Diener looked really shy Tuesday and just didn’t stand out at all. Even his phenomenal outside shot wasn’t falling for him.

Luther Head: While he was unable to play the point as he was placed on the same team as Travis Diener and Ronnie Price, Head still picked up a couple of assists because of his excellent ball movement. He made up for his average ballhandling skills by playing outstanding defense, coming up with a number of nice steals

Ronnie Price: Price played some pretty nice defense and displaying his excellent athletic ability. He needs to do a better job showing off his ballhandling skills and making his presence felt on both ends of the floor.

Jawad Williams: Williams was another disappointment Tuesday, showing average ballhandling skills. His outside shot was not falling at all. The North Carolina graduate was playing both forward positions, but didn’t stand out at all in either role.

Robert Whaley: The biggest surprise of the camp. Whaley looked like the top prospect he was considered coming out of high school rather than the troubled role player he was at Cincinnati. Whaley showed great athleticism, a long body, and a mean streak that is rare to find in most big men today – especially at this camp. He dunked virtually every time he received the ball within five feet of the basket and was impressive running the floor, as he beat just about every other post player in camp from end to end.

Deji Akindele: The Nigerian native possesses impressive physique and great athleticism, but not much more than that because of his overall rawness. As Deji told us, he has only been playing basketball for two and a half years and still has a ways to go, but remains an intriguing prospect because of his outstanding physical attributes.


Ronny Turiaf: Turiaf did a very nice job Tuesday, locking down his man, playing unselfishly, nailing mid-range jump shots, and even beating his man off of the dribble from the wing. He was a real pleasure to watch as he was constantly smiling, cheering on his teammates, and super competitive. Turiaf was easily considered one of the top three players at the camp Tuesday.

Pops Mensah-Bonsu: Absolutely an incredible athletic specimen. Mensah-Bonsu was pump faking windmill dunks in drills and playing extremely hard. Unfortunately, he is very limited in the skills department and badly airballed a 12-foot jump shot to back that up.

Luke Schenscher:


Luke was setting tough picks and getting dirty inside of the paint. He moved very well, knocked down his sky hook, and even nailed a pretty 16 foot jumper.


There was a private workout scheduled by eight agents consisting of 16 players over the course of three hours before the Chicago pre-draft camp tipped off on Monday. The first workout was the most intriguing, pitting Odartey Blankson and Jay Straight against Chet Mason and Mike Wilkinson. The workout started with normal drills including the usual ball handling and perimeter shooting. Afterwards, the players did two-on-two games for about a half an hour.

The two most impressive players were Blankson and Mason. Straight showed a competitive spirit and decent scoring ability, but his lack of size doesn’t make him much of a factor for this upcoming draft. Wilkinson was surprisingly the worst of the four, looking completely out of sync the entire workout. His poor ballhandling and perimeter shooting along with the fact that he lacks athleticism and a true NBA position really kill any shot he ever really had of making it at this point.

Blankson showed an outstanding mid-range game and good all-around skills, except for his ability to create his own shot. He will probably need to polish his perimeter game for at least a season or two in Europe before really being able to state a valid case for making the league as an NBA small forward.

Mason was certainly the player who showed the most upside. His 6-foot-4 body, long arms, and outstanding athletic ability give him unique physical characteristics as a pure point guard that few players in this draft possess. The biggest knock on his game right now is a non existent shot from 18 feet and out and it doesn’t seem to be a case of simply lacking some polish. He really needs to work on his shooting mechanics, because his lack of perimeter shooting ability will make him an extremely easy player to scout and neutralize if he cannot keep defenses honest. What makes us think that he has a shot of making the league someday is the fact that he is an excellent defender who displays an outstanding attitude out on the court. Seems like he would be a model teammate, always cheering and motivating all players surrounding him.

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