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Thursday, June 26, 2003

KU big men similar in some ways

Collison considered more athletic than former Jayhawk LaFrentz

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— Pre-NBA draft thoughts while wondering when they'll stop the doofish policy of demanding dazed draftees don team caps after their name is called.

Did you ever stop to think that if Nick Collison were left-handed -- yes, I know he can hook with his left hand but he's primarily a right-hander -- how often he would have been compared to Raef LaFrentz, another small-town Iowa high schooler who made it big at Kansas?

Collison doesn't possess LaFrentz's jump shot and he may not have the movie-star looks of the former Jayhawk, but Collison runs better and is more athletic. Collison, in fact, will be a better pro on the open floor than in a halfcourt game, and you can't say that about very many big men. ...

Will Collison's inexplicable tendency to go into free-throw shooting funks harm him in the draft? Collison's 3-for-10 foul shooting against Syracuse in the NCAA championship game wasn't a positive, yet Collison was even worse when he made only 3 of 13 charities against Iowa State during the regular season. ...

Former Jayhawk Norm Cook was the 16th player selected in the 1976 NBA draft by the Boston Celtics. Will his son go higher tonight? Brian Cook, the Big 10 Conference Player of the Year under Bill Self at Illinois, isn't projected to go in the top half of the first round, but the 6-foot-10, 240-pounder might surprise. He's been impressive in pre-draft workouts, and big men who can shoot jumpers don't come off the assembly line. ...

T.J. Ford's decision to turn pro after his sophomore year at Texas is the Big 12 Conference's loss and the NBA's gain, but does Ford possess enough tools to become an impact player in the NBA? He's lightning fast, he's quick off the dribble and he's instinctive but to me Ford is Alan Iverson without the offense. ...

Kirk Hinrich hopes this trip to Madison Square Garden is happier than his last one. Hindered by back pain, Hinrich struggled during last November's Preseason NIT at the Garden, missing 9 of 11 three-point tries. ...

Ford, Collison and Hinrich are the only Big 12 Conference players projected to be drafted. Does that mean Oklahoma's Hollis Price and Ebi Ere will return to school and bolster the Sooners' dismal graduation rates? ...

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Kirk Hinrich discusses his draft status at a news conference Wednesday in New York.

Of the following, which one is not considered a potential first-round draft selection? a) Zarko Cabarkapa. b) Zaur Pachulia. c) Zoran Planinic. d) Okraz Apakrabac. Give up? Answer later. ...

No doubt Marquette's Dwyane Wade is a heckuva player. I'm sure the hometown Milwaukee Bucks, for instance, would love to have him. But Wade wasn't that memorable in the NCAA semifinal against Kansas. The 6-foot-4 guard scored 19 points and had four assists in the 94-61 flogging, but showed no indication he could take over a game like Syracuse freshman Carmelo Anthony did two days later. ...

Will Orlando, picking 15th, go for Oregon point guard Luke Ridnour? The Magic are reportedly looking for help at that position after former Jayhawk Jacque Vaughn struggled mightily in the playoffs. ...

A year ago, KU's Drew Gooden was the fourth player selected, touted as a building block for the bottom-feeding Memphis Grizzlies. Gooden lasted about half a season in Memphis. Traded to Orlando, Gooden flourished and the Grizzlies remain undernourished. ..

Answer to the earlier alphabet-soup potential first-rounder question: d) Okraz Apakrabac. That's Zarko Cabarkapa spelled backwards. I'm sure all you amateur cryptologists had no trouble with that one. ...

What do points mean? Not much if you're Andre Emmett. The Texas Tech forward led the Big 12 Conference in scoring as a junior last season, declared for the NBA draft and then pulled his name out of the hopper. Essentially, that means Emmett will be scoring about 22 points per game again next season while giving up at least that many. ...

Unless an underclassmen opts to turn pro, Kansas won't have any draftable players in 2004. Jeff Graves and Bryant Nash, the Jayhawks' only seniors, would need breakout seasons to attain draft status.

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