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Sunday, April 30, 2006

Tough Work Starting for Tigers' Carney

Tough work starting for Tigers' Carney

By Gary Parrish, Commercial Appeal
April 29, 2006

The final workout of a five-day stretch began with an unconventional exercise. Rodney Carney grabbed the end of a blue tarp and walked, looking more like someone preparing for a rain delay than the NBA draft.

Pull the tarp?

Must be a new technique, right?

Must've read about it somewhere, no?

Actually, it was nothing more than a necessity. A tarp from a Thursday night function still covered the court at the Finch Center on Friday afternoon. And since you can't take a 3-pointer when you can't see the 3-point line, Carney's day began with a peeling, of sorts, that enabled the former University of Memphis standout to put in another 90-minute workout with Wayne Hall, otherwise known as the personal trainer of Rockets star Tracy McGrady.

"He's been working me hard," Carney said. "I've never worked this hard in my life."
Rodney Carney is destined to be a pro.

There were times when this seemed in doubt, like when he enrolled at Memphis as an unheralded prospect. But there he was Friday in an isolated gym talking like a pro and training like a pro, having signed with a sports agency, Octagon, based just outside Washington, D.C., that manages plenty of other young pros, among them Chris Paul (Hornets), Kirk Hinrich (Bulls) and Francisco Garcia (Kings).

"I talked to Chris Paul, and he had nothing but good things to say about them," Carney said explaining his choice of agency. "I just sensed they were the right people for me. It's where I needed to go."

In many cases, it's only a few seconds after a prospect signs with an agent that he requests a line of credit and purchases that first house or car (or houses and cars).

But Carney said he hasn't bothered with anything on that level and won't any time soon.
"I'm just concentrating on getting better," Carney said. "I'm not worried about any house or car right now. I just want to get better."

To do that, Carney will head to Houston next week, where he will remain the subsequent three weeks and continue his training sessions with Hall. Some others scheduled to participate are McGrady, Luther Head (Rockets) and JamesOn Curry (Oklahoma State).

"Rodney needs to work on his change of direction, getting stronger for the NBA game and creativity. He just needs to be a more creative basketball player," said Hall, who has been with McGrady since the NBA All-Star's prep days at Mt. Zion Academy in North Carolina.

"Fundamentally, I've been impressed with Rodney, and it takes a lot to impress me because I've worked with a lot of athletes. But I've been impressed. He has a lot of similarities to Tracy."
Among them, not being a college graduate (McGrady turned pro out of high school). But Carney said when this semester is completed he'll be just a project and one class short of his degree, something he plans to finish online within the next year.

"I'm going to get that done for me," Carney promised. "That's an accomplishment nobody will ever be able to take away."
While Carney said he has been invited to participate in the NBA Pre-Draft Camp in Orlando next month, he plans only to attend and not play. The idea is that his status as a probable lottery pick is secure and not worth risking in that atmosphere.

As for his former Tiger teammates also trying to turn pro, Carney expressed optimism both sophomore Darius Washington and freshman Shawne Williams can make it.
Like many others, he said he believes "Darius is gone" and is not considering returning to school under any circumstances.

But Carney said he spoke with Williams recently and offered some advice that could perhaps lead the Hamilton High product back to college so long as he maintains his amateur status.
"I talked with Shawne the other day, and he said he just wants to test the waters," Carney said. "I just told him to be careful and go out there and do what you can do. And then if you feel it's not going right, then come back (to school)."

-- Gary Parrish: 901-529-2365

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