Posted by Scott Howard-Cooper
CHICAGO – Two days after the lottery finalized the order, the evaluation process heading toward the June 24 draft takes the next step with the annual gathering of top U.S. prospects for a series of conditioning tests, interviews and drills but very little in the way of evaluation.
That has been done while scouting games and will be done with fresh scrutiny when players participate in workouts in the coming weeks for select teams or, on a couple occasions, groups of clubs. This, today and Friday at a local gym, is more like browsing, the chance for executives, scouts and coaches from all 30 teams to watch prospects do agility drills and go through physicals – just not play any games.
The crazy notion of actual basketball games being played at a basketball combine faded years ago as agents increasingly held clients out of the camp, held in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., at the time, to protect their standing, even if they didn’t have much standing. Players who were on the bubble just to make the first round began to routinely skip the games and show for physicals only rather than risk a bad showing that could mean a drop into the second round and losing guaranteed money. Frustration within the league grew all the way to where commissioner David Stern, in meetings with team officials, questioned the purpose of the camp continuing, and soon it was pared down to the current version.
Fifty-one prospects are scheduled to attend this year, including the clear favorites to go 1-2, John Wall of Kentucky and Evan Turner of Ohio State. Players met officials from various teams Wednesday and are in the gym for the first time today.