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The Courtmaster on the NBA Draft

Hear ye, hear ye! Court is now in session on The Insiders
network. That's right, folks, "The CourtMaster" basketball
column is now carried on all of the ACC sites on The Insiders
network. I am excited to have the opportunity to enlighten,
entertain, and annoy a wider audience of fans devoted to schools all
around the ACC.

With the NBA draft
coming up this Wednesday, it's time to review the prospects of
players coming out of the ACC. It is a bumper crop, to say the

Three conference
players are sure bets to become lottery picks (#1-13), as many as
three more could be drafted later in the first round, and several
others could go in the second round. This could be one of the
stronger representations the ACC has ever had in the NBA draft.

The locks for the
lottery are Duke's Jay (don't call me Jason, I'm not an accused
murderer or a punk) Williams and Mike (hell no, I won't stay)
Dunleavy and Maryland's Chris (don't ask me about that &@#)

Along with fellow
early entries Roger Mason of Virginia and Carlos Boozer of Duke,
these players likely would have made up the all-ACC team in 2002-03.
I'll be talking a lot about the impact of their departure on the ACC
in future columns.

It seems Jason
Williams is a lock to be drafted by the Chicago Bulls, where he could
lose as many games in a few weeks as he did in three years at Duke.
Some scouts have been concerned about his height, or lack of such.
It seems he was measured a lot closer to 6'0" than his listed
6'2" (imagine that). I think Williams is underrated as an
athlete, possessing surprising strength and great hops. I think he
will become a star, although not right away.

Dunleavy has been
used as the poster child for how early entries to the NBA is leading
to the ruination of college basketball. No less of an authority than
Billy Packer recently said that Dunleavy's departure for the NBA
would be "the end of college basketball as we know it."

Take a chill pill,

He could make a lot
better case against players leaving college early for the pros if he
pointed to how it has hurt the pro game. Younger players with much
poorer fundamentals have greatly reduced the quality of play in the
NBA over the past few years. Let's face it--many of the games are
nearly unwatchable.

Could Packer have an
agenda with his comment? Could he be concerned that fewer marquee
players at nationally known schools like Duke could hurt the
marketability of the college game and the CBS television ratings?
Wouldn't that hurt Packer in the pocket book? Just wondering.

Dunleavy is more
ready to play in the NBA and more talented than most of the players
coming out. It looks like Golden State will make him the third pick
in the draft (sort of like sailing a fancy yacht into the Bermuda
Triangle) and make him a very wealthy man. As a bonus, the rumors of
a package deal with his dad coaching the Warriors will be
entertaining, and basketball fans need some entertainment to get
through the summer.

The most likely
scenario involving Chris Wilcox has him being selected with the
seventh pick by New York. I can't think of a worse situation for
Wilcox to deal with. He possesses tremendous physical gifts, and
there is no reasonable doubt that he has all the tools to succeed in
the NBA.

As he demonstrated in
the way he handled his departure from Maryland (trying to sneak out
of his dorm), he is a very immature young man. He hired Rock Newman,
an infamous boxing promoter, as his agent, for God's sake!

For Wilcox to get
thrown into the media glare of New York and into a situation where he
will be counted on to fill the Knicks' glaring need for a low-post
presence on both ends of the court is a recipe for disaster.

I don't think Wilcox
is a bad kid, but he is very much a kid. New York is a tough enough
town for grown-ups. For his sake, I hope he slides down to Phoenix
at #9. After all, joining a team with Stephan Marbury and Penny
Hardaway means he won't be burdened with having the ball very much.

Other potential first
round picks are Boozer, Mason, and Maryland's Juan Dixon.

There is a wide range
of opinions regarding Boozer. He is widely accepted as an effective
low-post player, but there are questions about his athleticism and
ability to play away from the basket.

I don't understand
the questions about his athleticism. He is a chiseled 6'9" 270
pounds who can get up and down the floor very well.

Boozer's game away
from the basket is a mystery. He never had to wander very far at Duke
with all of the perimeter firepower they always had. The fact that
he made 75% of his free throws last season give some hope that he
could be effective from 15 feet away. I think he will become a very
effective power forward in the NBA if he can get a bit of a mean
streak and work harder as a rebounder.

Mason is a talented
player who, at 6'5", should have the size to be a solid wing
guard in the NBA. He has exceptional range on his shot and should
have no problem knocking down 3-pointers in the League.

Mason played some
point guard the past two seasons at Virginia due to the injuries to
Majestic Mapp, but I don't think he has the handle or the quickness
to be particularly effective running point in the pros. He could
start out his pro career as a dangerous sharpshooter to bring off the
bench and develop from there.

How can the best
player in the 2002 NCAA post-season be as lightly regarded as Juan
Dixon has been by NBA scouts? Did they watch any of the games? I'm
not trying to say Dixon should be a lottery pick (although I've seen
stupider things in these drafts), but to see players like Frank
Williams, Kareem Rush, Marcus Haslip, Ron Grizzard, and Steve Logan
projected ahead of Dixon in the first round is laughable. I'd
actually laugh if that fact wouldn't cost Dixon money in his first

Yes, I know Dixon is
thin. How thin is he? I just wrapped up my kitchen trash bag with a
twist-tie that was wider than he is. Ok, that's an exaggeration.
Dixon is deceptively strong and has lightning quickness. He led the
ACC in steals and free throw shooting, was second in scoring, and
fourth in three-point shooting. He led the nation in toughness and
heart, but pro scouts can't put a number on that, so they tend to
underrate it's importance if not ignore it entirely.

Among the other draft
eligible ACC players are Lonny Baxter and Byron Mouton from Maryland,
Delvon Arrington and David Anderson from Florida State, Tony Akins of
Georgia Tech, Jason Capel and Kris Lang from North Carolina, Anthony
Grundy from NC State, Chris Williams and Adam Hall from Virginia, and
Darius Songaila and Craig Dawson from Wake Forest.

Of this group, I
think Songaila is the best pro prospect. He is already a polished
low-post player, can knock down a 15-foot shot, and can run the floor
well for a 6'9", 250 pound player. His Achilles heel at Wake
Forest was his propensity to get into foul trouble. The more
physical nature of the NBA could be more to his liking. He should go
early in the second round.

The star of the
recent Chicago pre-draft camp was Lonny Baxter, who led all players
in both scoring and rebounding. That performance propelled Baxter
onto most mock drafts for the first time. He is still viewed at a
potential 'tweener; too short to play center, not quick enough to
play forward. His athleticism is vastly underrated, and I would be
surprised not to see him on an NBA roster next season.

I doubt any of the
other players listed above will be drafted, but several of them could
make an NBA roster or, more likely, play professionally overseas next
season. I think Mouton's all-around game and intangibles and Lang's
low post skills (if he can stay healthy for once) are the most likely
candidates to play in the League next season.

ACC seniors from last
year who probably need to get on with their life's work are Jamar
McKnight from Clemson, Matt Christiansen from Duke, Monte Cummings
and Antwuan Dixon from Florida State, Archie Miller from NC State,
and Broderick Hicks, Ervin Murray, and Antwan Scott from Wake Forest.

I'm not saying these
guys were bad players or that they will never be able to make a buck
playing basketball somewhere. I am saying, however, that they won't
see the light of day in the NBA.

those of you reading "The CourtMaster" column for the first
time, thanks for checking it out. I always want to know what you
think, either on this site's message board or by e-mail at
I always do my best to respond to both as soon as possible.

I'll be dropping by
periodically during the summer. Until next time, court is adjourned.