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Old 06-25-06, 10:20 PM
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Insider Request: Draft Sleepers

COuld someone post the article on espn about the draft sleepers. Thanks in advance
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Old 06-25-06, 11:24 PM
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You know Adam Morrison. Cheered for (or against) J.J. Redick. Believe that Brandon Roy is the most complete player in the draft. Think that Shelden Williams could be the next Antonio Davis.

But who don't you know?

In 2005, it was New Mexico's Danny Granger. In 2004, Kevin Martin. In 2003, a kid from France named Boris Diaw.

They're the draft sleepers, talented prospects who haven't received the press or the love they probably deserve.

This year, there is an abundance of such players.

Here are 10 guys you may not know much about who could end up helping your favorite NBA team.

Mouhamed Saer Sene, C, Senegal.
I have watched a few hours of Sene on DVD, and the resemblance to Dikembe Mutombo is uncanny.

Sene is a 7-footer from Senegal who played in Belgium this year. He's gotten some publicity for his incredible 7-8 wingspan and his dominating, nine-block performance at the Nike Hoop Summit in Memphis in April, but most fans still don't know much else.

But perhaps his most impressive attribute has been his development over the past year. While his body has filled out and gotten stronger, his on-court progress has been even more remarkable. One year ago, when I saw him at the 2005 Reebok Eurocamp, his wingspan was the only positive I could come up with. When attempting layups, Sene didn't even know which foot to jump from. That's all changed this year.

On defense, he's already close to being able to contribute in the NBA. On offense, he's got a ways to go, but he has become much more aggressive and is picking up some low-post moves.

Teams see him as a potentially dominating defensive force in the paint. In a draft short on big men, that makes him a hot name.

Look for him to go as high as the Jazz at No. 14 and no lower than the Suns at No. 21.

Alexander Johnson, PF, Florida State
At one time, Johnson was the overweight kid who could play. But he always seemed like an underachiever, because his body was holding him back.

Not anymore. Johnson got with personal coach David Thorpe last summer, dropped down to 225 and looked like a completely different player, both physically and on the court.

It took him a little while to get used to his sleeker, quicker body (in part because Johnson loves to mix it up in the paint), but when he did the results turned heads. He had 22 points and 13 rebounds in 26 minutes against Duke in May and averaged 21 ppg and 9.5 rpg in the NIT this year.

In workouts he's wowed teams with his combination of athleticism (a 40-inch vertical leap) and power. He's still developing, which isn't necessarily a good thing at the age of 23. But enough teams see the similarities to Kenyon Martin to take him much higher than he was projected when he came out of school.

Look for Johnson to go as high as the Bulls at No. 16 and probably no lower than the Grizzlies at No. 24.

Thabo Sefolosha, G/F, Switzerland
Suddenly, he's one of the hottest names in the draft. Sefolosha has been on NBA radar screens for several years but didn't declare for the draft until this year.

His play in Italy was very solid last season, but he still didn't get much recognition. Within days of his arrival in the U.S. for workouts, the buzz began.

He's a versatile forward who can shoot, score, rebound and bring the ball up the floor. He's not great in any one category, but he's excellent all-around. Scouts compare him to Dallas' Josh Howard as a player, and his super-long wingspan is reminiscent of Tayshaun Prince's.

After being rated as a second-round pick by scouts most of the year, he's now got a great chance to go in the late lottery to mid-first round.

Look for Sefalosha to go as high as the Hornets at No. 12 and no lower than the Knicks at No. 20.

James White, G/F, Cincinnati
There was a time when White was considered one of the best high school prospects in the country, a super athlete who could jump out of the gym and fly up and down the floor.

Things didn't work out at Florida and White transferred to Cincinnati. He had to sit out a year to regain eligibility and slipped off most draft boards until this season.

He was great for Cincinnati this year on both ends of the floor. On defense, he has the length and speed to guard ones, twos and threes. On offense, he's awesome in the open court and has really improved his jumper, especially off the dribble. White's the type of player who could be a much better player in the NBA than in college.

He could go as high the Nets at No. 23 and should go no lower than the Raptors at No. 35.

Yotam Halperin, G, Israel
Halperin excelled in the Euroleague last season and followed up with a similar performance at the Reebok Eurocamp. In the past week, the Suns and Pacers have raved about his play in workouts against higher-ranked players.

As a savvy combo guard who can shoot, Halperin is often compared to San Antonio's Beno Udrih. But Halperin is actually a better shooter with has more court vision, and he's bigger.

The fact that he could become Israel's first NBA player is also intriguing. Israelis are NBA fanatics and could provide a boon in the form of a new market to the team that drafts him.

He could go as high as the Suns at No. 27 and probably doesn't slip past Hawks at No. 33.

Leon Powe, PF, California
Without his two ACL injuries, Powe would be a likely lottery pick. He's an explosive scorer and rebounder who can play tough defense. While a little undersized for his position, he makes up for it with long arms and his ability to get off the floor.

Last season, Powe had to play himself back into shape after injuries and was not as athletic or explosive as he had looked in high school. Lately, though, teams have reported that he looks as good as ever and that his knees seem to be fine.

We said all year that if Powe's knees checked out, he could be a first-round pick. Right now, that seems a bit of a long shot given the lack of buzz surrounding him, but on talent, he should probably be there. If Ike Diogu can go No. 9, as he did last year, then Powe should be worthy of the late first round, at worst.

Joel Freeland, F, England
Freeland was bagging groceries three years ago in England and has played high-level organized ball for only one year. He admitted to us in Italy that he hadn't even watched an NBA game before last season.

But based on his performance in the Reebok Eurocamp, he's now worked his way up into consideration for the first round. His skills are still developing, but he has great energy and pesky athleticism for a 6-10 kid. He needs a few years in Europe to hone his skills, but coaches were amazed at how well he picked up things in the camp.

He could go as high as the Suns at No. 27 and probably doesn't slip past the Clippers at No. 34.

Solomon Jones, F/C, South Florida
I'm not a huge Jones fan. He does have NBA size and athletic ability, but his body is frail and he put up only OK numbers for a terrible team. He's a good rebounder and shot blocker but not much of a presence on offense.

He ended the season in impressive fashion, with two strong games against UConn and Georgetown. He played well at the Portsmouth predraft camp and not so well at the Orlando predraft camp.

His size and athleticism seem to be pushing up his draft stock. We've heard he could go as early as No. 29 or No. 30 ... or he could slide down to the bottom of the second round.

P.J. Tucker, F, Texas
Fans know Tucker, but he's been lost in the shuffle a bit with his two higher-profile teammates, LaMarcus Aldridge and Daniel Gibson, entering the draft.

Tucker doesn't look like much of an NBA prospect. Though 6-5, he plays like a power forward. He has almost no range on his jump shot and is a shaky ball-handler.

How can a guy like that be a sleeper? Because several teams think Tucker has the intangibles to be a great player. He is tough, has a nose for the ball and finds ways to score around bigger opponents. More than one scout has referred to him as a poor man's Charles Barkley.

So it looks like someone's going to snatch him up no later than early in the second round.

Damir Markota, F, Serbia
The small forward formerly known as Damir Omerhodzic has gone under a major identity shift both off and on the court this year.

Markota has been a prospect in Croatia for years but finally got major playing time on a Euroleague team this season and responded. He has great athleticism and size for his position and is an excellent perimeter shooter. In a league where "length" is valued so greatly, his arms are on the short side -- one scout called him a "T-Rex." But he makes up for that with his size and elevation on his jump shot.

I watched a tape of a workout that his agent Marc Cornstein held for him and Vladimir Veremeenko in New York on June 12. Markota shot the ball very well, especially at the beginning of the workout, and showed off his above-average athleticism. (Veremeenko actually showed himself to be a little more skilled in the workout, but scouts are concerned he will be a player without a position in the NBA.)

With a number of NBA teams in attendance, no doubt many walked away impressed, and even more have become fans in private workouts.

What's really kept Markota's stock down is the notion that he's immature and prone to trouble off the court. The stories about his escapades in Europe and in the United States are voluminous, but the word is that Markota matured in the last year and stuck to playing basketball. A few teams that have interviewed him said they came away with the impression that Markota is a changed man.

On talent, he's a definite first-rounder, but on reputation he may be forced into the second round. If he really has changed, the team that gets him in Round 2 is getting a steal.

Chad Ford covers the NBA for ESPN Insider.

ps. anyone know how to post an article like this with pictures and all? i only know to copy and paste!
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Old 06-25-06, 11:26 PM
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Where's the Link?
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Old 06-25-06, 11:31 PM
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ill send you the link, but unless you got insider you wont be able to see it

http://insider.espn.go.com/nba/draft...had&id=2498248
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Old 06-26-06, 12:08 AM
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spurs should draft pj tucker if that sene guy is gone

hookem
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