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Saturday, June 11, 2005

Simien touring country

KU standout visits 'all corners of the U.S.' leading up to draft

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Former Kansas University basketball player Wayne Simien recently received a gift in the mail from his agent -- the famed Leigh Steinberg.

"I sent him a care package of books," said Steinberg, the real-life inspiration for the movie "Jerry Maguire."

"He needs something to read while he's flying around the country. By the end of this, he'll have greatly enhanced his frequent-flier miles. He's been to all corners of the U.S."

Simien, who Friday was in Chicago to take a physical at the NBA pre-draft camp, has been on a whirlwind tour of the U.S. and Canada, taking part in one-on-one workouts for NBA teams.

The 6-foot-9, 255-pound power forward from Leavenworth already has worked out for Portland, Golden State, Toronto, Denver, New York, Houston, Boston and the Los Angeles Clippers and Lakers.

The Raptors have asked Simien to return to Toronto for a second one-on-one session. He also soon will be headed to Memphis, Indiana, Orlando, New Jersey, Seattle, Phoenix, San Antonio and Detroit.

Whew.

"The feedback," Steinberg said, "is that he's shot well and guarded well and been extremely impressive in one-on-one interviewing as you might expect. Wayne makes a very, very strong impression on everybody. He is so bright and has so much character. He embodies what teams are looking for."

Steinberg has no crystal ball, thus can't predict where Simien will be tapped in the June 28 draft.

NBAdraft.net has Utah grabbing Simien with the 27th pick in the first round. That Web site previously had Simien being tapped 21st by Sacramento. Draftcity.com says Minnesota will take Simien at No. 14 overall.


"One of the difficulties is the sheer volume of underclassmen declaring for the draft. There are over 100," said Steinberg, a Newport Beach, Calif.-based agent who is in his 31st year of representing players. "No one knows how many will stay in. One of the apprehensions has been the doomsday scenario, that the new collective-bargaining agreement would have an age limitation. I think some players are making mistakes being enticed into the draft because of that. Right now, it's almost a draft and a half (worth of players)."

Simien received a boost recently from a simple measurement by the Denver Nuggets that showed he stood 6-foot-8 in his stocking feet, 6-9 in shoes. It had been rumored for more than a year that he was closer to 6-7 than 6-9.

"Everybody was aware Wayne might be the most complete player in the draft, but the knock was he was a tweener," Steinberg said. "Now he's measured 6-9 in sneakers.

"He's been physically very, very impressive in drills," added Steinberg, noting workouts with Danny Manning and a personal trainer helped the player immensely since season's end. "His body has also been given a respite from being double- and triple-teamed, grueling triple-teaming at the end of the season."

Now Simien's body is facing the wear and tear of travel.

"It's like any college student going on job interviews," Simien said. "Only this is for my basketball career. I'm just glad I have an opportunity to pursue my dreams."

¢ Miles, Langford: KU's Keith Langford and Aaron Miles will go undrafted, according to the most recent projections of NBAdraft.net. Miles is listed as a second-round pick of the Phoenix Suns, 57th overall, by draftcity.com.

Langford, who scored seven points in the first game at the Chicago camp, had seven points off 2-of-7 shooting with three assists and six turnovers in the second game. Miles missed three shots without a make, but hit two free throws and had seven assists, four turnovers and three steals in the second game. Miles hit seven of 10 NBA threes in an individual drill at camp.

¢ KU-WSU not happening: The Wichita Eagle reported Friday that KU coach Bill Self rejected a one-time game against Wichita State, which sources said could have been played in Allen Fieldhouse on ESPN next season.

The paper said it would have been a one-time game with no return game involved.

"'Turg' (WSU coach and ex-Jayhawk Mark Turgeon) and I have talked numerous times. I've said all along it would not happen immediately," Self told the Journal-World Friday. "Nothing has changed on that."

Of the current situation, KU senior associate AD Larry Keating noted: "ESPN gave us a list of schools a couple of months ago looking for a last game (to complete KU's home slate). They gave us a couple of names, nobody we were interested in. I've never talked to the coach or AD (at WSU) about playing in men's basketball. It has not come up this year."

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