Searching For The Truth – VII. A Seven-Foot High School Dream

Published June 27, 2001 – Cameron Citizen-Observer

John RockerTHIS JUST IN: Has anyone noticed the gas prices falling like the Phillies out of first place in the NL East? Speaking of which, the Braves decided they didn’t want to win this year by trading John Rocker.

I don’t care if he insulted the Pope on MTV, playoff teams don’t trade a 26-year old left handed closer with two A-plus pitches.

Reality check, people: Baseball players have been stupid for years and there are still racist people living in this country. Anyone who tells you different is selling something…

I was born in 1977 and that year, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar won the NBA Most Valuable Player Award. Before I was born, the NBA handed out 21 MVP Awards; 17 were given to centers. So it makes sense that the NBA Draft has been littered with seven footers, from Ralph Sampson to Yinka Dare.

Since 1985, when the NBA first did a lottery for the first pick, only three players under 6’9 have gone number one: Larry Johnson, who played like a 6’10 power forward before his back blew out, Glenn Robinson, who’s 6’9 and Allen Iverson. The last two top picks, Elton Brand and Kenyon Martin, are undersized centers at 6’9 and 6’10, respectively.

In this year’s draft, there are 20 players listed at 6’9 or taller – and that’s just the underclassmen. That doesn’t include international players like Pau Gasol from Spain, a 21-year-old 7 foot small forward!

Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with kids who can’t drink or overrated college sophomores like Jamison Brewer from Auburn declaring for the NBA Draft. That’s the beauty of it all: Anyone can declare for the NBA Draft. You could declare for the draft, it’s only filling out paperwork and sending it in.

But there’s no way you’ll be drafted, like Jamison Brewer, which is the problem: Anyone can declare for the NBA Draft. With thanks to comedian Lewis Black and knowledge that the draft will be over when you read this, here are some names to remember. If your team gets one of these players, consider yourself lucky.

Shane BattierShane Battier – This isn’t exact, but I’m pretty sure Battier played 148 games at Duke. They won 133 of them. You can’t teach winning like that. He’s a good defensive player now, which is rare coming out of college. As a freshman, he shot 16 percent from three-point land. Last year, he shot 41 percent from downtown. He will improve, regardless whether he goes first or twenty-first.

Michael Bradley – Without any real national attention, he led the NCAA in field goal percentage. His game is in the post, but he can step out from 15 feet and face up. He’s a great boarder, can run the floor and has a mean streak that all good inside players have. He might not go high, but he will make an impact.

Jason Collins – With his twin staying at Stanford, Collins will go to the league on his own. Considered soft on the boards, he’ll have to prove himself inside. But he’s got a nice touch around the basket and can step outside with his jumper. He’ll go late, but a couple of years from now, he’ll be considered a steal in this draft.

Joseph Forte – He’s a guard from North Carolina, which means he will hit the outside shot. I have questions about his defense, but with the rule changes in the NBA, his ability to hit the open jumper matters more. He can be another UNC guard that scores in the NBA like Jerry Stackhouse, Vince Carter, Kenny Smith, Michael Jordan…

Troy MurphyTroy Murphy – He was the quietest back-to-back Big East Player of the Year I’ve ever seen. He’s 6’11 and there is very little he can’t do offensively. He can play the post, but will excel at the small forward position. Granted, he won’t be able to defend the faster forwards, but he’ll score 18, grab nine boards and not even sweat.

Eddie Griffin – He might go number one and there’s little reason why he shouldn’t. Listed at 6’9, he drains threes like he’s shooting free throws. He’s a great shot blocker and anyone who watched a Seton Hall game last year knows he can run the floor. He fights for rebounds and it doesn’t stop there, his fight with teammate Ty Shine cost Seton Hall a NCAA tourney berth last year.

But this is the NBA, where you choke your coach, take a year off, get a new contract and never face a penalty. Or you dominant undersized 16 year olds for a couple of years, go to the prom and decide ‘I’m ready for the NBA’. Either way, it’s a big joke and that’s the truth.

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