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Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Simien eager to learn fate during NBA Draft

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— After all he's accomplished in four years of college and six weeks of workouts with NBA teams, Wayne Simien is physically and mentally prepared for tonight's NBA Draft.

"Actually, I'm not nervous at all," said Simien, a 6-foot-9, 255-pound former Kansas University power forward, who experts say will be tapped somewhere between Nos. 14 and 29 overall.

"Excitement is my emotion - not nervous or scared or worried where I might end up. I've done everything I could. I trust in God for the rest."

The draft is set for 6:30 p.m., with a live telecast on ESPN (Sunflower Broadband Channel 33).

A confident Simien is approaching tonight like one big party.

First, he'll break bread and watch the draft with family and friends at his parents' Leavenworth house. Next, he'll head to Warren Middle School for a post-draft news conference in front of more well-wishers and media.

He'll be smiling ear-to-ear - as long as he's selected in the first round, the only round in which contracts are guaranteed.

"Being a first-round draft pick, that's going to be great no matter where you go," Simien said. "Having a great career at Kansas and a great senior year ... coming from a small town in Kansas being able to have the opportunity to play at this high level and do what I enjoy doing is an honor in itself. There will be no disappointment on my behalf wherever I go."



Simien, who worked out for 16 teams, has no gut feeling which team will select him. He'd like to play for a consistent winner.

"If I could go to a winning situation ... I've won at every level," Simien said. "I love to compete and come out on top. That'd be one of the things I'd enjoy, going to a good city, good teammates, good front office, good organization. A lot of that is in a perfect world. I'll be extremely satisfied wherever my name is called."

Nima Zarrabi of Simien's representation - Leigh Steinberg Enterprises - said last-minute draft updates contained no surprises.

Predictions

Here's a look at where some so-called experts say Wayne Simien will be tapped in tonight's NBA Draft:

  • Leigh Steinberg, Simien's agent: Anywhere between No. 14 (Minnesota) and 21 (Phoenix)
  • Tony Mejia, cbssportsline.com: No. 17 (Indiana)
  • Dime Magazine: No. 21 (Phoenix)
  • Greg Doyel, cbssportsline.com: No. 23 (Sacramento)
  • Hoopshype.com: No. 23 (Sacramento)
  • ESPN.com: No. 24 (Houston)
  • Frank Burlison, scout.com: No. 24 (Houston)
  • Dan Wetzel, yahoo.com: No. 24 (Houston)
  • Matt Lawrence, cbssportsline.com: No. 24 (Houston)
  • John Denton, Florida Today: No. 24 (Houston)
  • Terry Foster, Detroit News: No. 24 (Houston)
  • msnbc.com: No. 25 (Seattle)
  • collegehoops.net: No. 27 (Utah)
  • David Moore, Dallas Morning News: No. 28 (San Antonio)
  • NBAdraft.net: No. 29 (Miami)
  • probasketball.about.com: No. 29 (Miami)
  • Dwain Price, Fort Worth Star-Telegram: No. 23 (Sacramento)
  • x-Insidehoops.com: No. 29 (Miami)
  • Ian Thomsen, SI.com: Second round
  • Insidehoops.com says ex-Jayhawk Aaron Miles will be a second-round pick

"We're still thinking 14, 16, 17, anywhere in the mix from 14-21," Zarrabi said. "We'll see if there's movement with trades.

"There are a lot of things to look for in the draft: Whoever Toronto takes at No. 7. If they take a small forward, they could take a big forward at No. 16. We haven't nailed it down yet," Zarrabi said. "I guess there are too many possibilities to have a firm grip yet. Anything can happen now."

KU coach Bill Self said Simien was the type of individual who would be "happy wherever he goes."

Houston and Miami prominently have been mentioned in media discussion about Simien.

"There's advantages for going early and advantages for going late to a far better team," Self said. "Wayne sees the glass half-full either way."

Self said he had heard from NBA officials about not only Simien, but guards Aaron Miles and Keith Langford, who could be taken in the second round. Detroit, Seattle and Portland reportedly really like Miles; New Orleans, Dallas, which doesn't have a pick but could always add free agents, and Portland reportedly like Langford.

"The thing about these guys, what do they (NBA officials) not know about 'em?" Self said of his highly scouted seniors. "They played in big games a lot of years. They fit all the criteria from a character standpoint."

Self said no tears should be shed for Miles and Langford if they were not drafted.

"I'm hopeful one gets called in the first and two are called in the second, but I don't think there's an exact setup to get to the league," Self said. "Some people think being drafted in the second round is better than being a free agent because the team is definitely interested in you.

"Others think being a free agent is far better than being taken in the second round. You could get drafted to a team that has 12 guaranteed contracts. All you are then is a workout guy."

Simien thinks Miles and Langford will be picked.

"We talk to each other all the time. We check on each other all the time. I feel confident in their ability and hope their name is called," he said.

Simien doesn't know who might draft his buddies, and he doesn't know for what team he'll eventually play.

"People have been speculating, but who knows?" Simien said. "I don't know. I've done everything in my power to give myself the best chance. Now it's out of my control."

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Four years: Simien said he was happy he stayed at KU for his senior season.

"It's prepared me a tremendous amount," Simien said. "I think it'll help me. No doubt in my mind the relationships and experiences I had this past year and getting a college degree, there's no price tag you can put on that as far as I'm concerned.

"The pressure and expectations that come from playing at Kansas will help me in NBA cities. Having guys before me - Nick (Collison), Drew (Gooden), Kirk (Hinrich) - I've talked to them a lot. They've definitely prepared me."

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Favors on draft night?: Self has NBA friends: Detroit coach Larry Brown and San Antonio general manager R.C. Buford, plus Kevin Pritchard and Milt Newton, player personnel directors of Portland and Washington.

He won't asking his buddies to do him a favor and select one of the three Jayhawks.

"When there were 10 rounds, there were a lot of favors done. When you have just two rounds, people's jobs are on the line," Self said. "They are trying to fill their team's needs but if it's even, it may be something that happens. I'd never call and say, 'Hey pick this kid.' They would never call me and say, 'Hey give this kid a scholarship, do me a favor.' They've got a job to do. But because of the relationship they definitely know how I feel about those guys."

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