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Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Draft Profiles on Carney, Williams and Washington, Jr. By Draft Express

Name:Rodney Carney
Height:6' 6"
Weight:204 pounds
Current Team:Memphis , Senior
NBA Position:SG/SF
Date of Birth:4/5/1984 (22 Years Old)
High School:Northwest HS
Hometown:Indianapolis, IN
Earliest Draft Class:2005
Current Position:SG/SF
Possible Positions:SG/SF
Best Case Scenario:Jason Richardson
Worst Case Scenario:Quentin Richardson
Profile Written By:Jonathan Givony
Last Updated:4/17/2006

Strengths:
In terms of physical attributes, few can match those of Carney’s in this draft. He has prototypical size and length for a modern day NBA swingman, with a solid frame to boot. What makes him most intriguing, though, is his incredible athletic ability. Carney has an outstanding combination of amazing quickness in the open floor, a fantastic first step, and possibly the best vertical leap in college basketball. He simply explodes off the ground from unheard of distances and glides his way to the basket for extremely creative dunks.

Carney has athleticism in his genes, as his mother DeAndra Ware held the world record in the Indoor 60 yard dash, and also was an Indiana state champion in the 100 and 200 meter dash. Carney himself was the Indiana state champion as a high school senior in the high jump, with a personal-best jump of 6-11. He also excelled in the 400 meter dash.

Offensively, Carney is not “just an athlete;” showing the ability to score in many ways.
His perimeter shooting stroke is a thing of beauty, elevating high off the ground to get his shot off almost whenever he pleases, and showing deep range and picture perfect mechanics releasing the ball. Carney can heat up in a hurry from behind the arc, but can be fairly streaky as well at times. He shows flashes of being able to use his phenomenal quickness to just explode past his man and elevate instantaneously off the dribble from mid-range as well.

In terms of slashing to the basket, when Carney puts his mind to it there are few that can stay in front of him at the NCAA level. His first step is incredibly explosive and he shows some flashy, although not always highly effective, spin moves and floaters to get his shot off once inside the paint.

Defensively, Carney has improved significantly this year and features all the tools in the world needed to be a lock down defender, particularly his size, length and superb quickness. He’ll usually get in the passing lanes about once a game and entrench himself in that night’s Sportscenter Top 10 highlight reel with the ensuing dunk.

Despite being a senior, the overall impression of Carney is that he still has a massive upside to continue to improve, particularly if he can be coached into understanding the little nuances of the game that he’s missing right now.

Weaknesses:
While Carney has a legit case to be considered the most athletic wing player in this draft, he really doesn’t take advantage of his athleticism as much as you would hope.

The biggest issue here is the fact that he seems to lack the ball-handling skills and possibly the motivation to actually take his man off the dribble and create high percentage shots for himself. A player with his first step should take the ball to the basket strong to the hoop and either finish or get fouled a dozen times per game at the Conference USA level. Instead, Carney settles for too many mid-range or long range jump-shots, attempting twice as many 3-pointers as he did free throws (7 per game as opposed to 3.5 free throws), attempting more 3-pointers than 2-pointers, and only shooting 43% from the field. His shot-selection can be very shaky at times, as he generally appears to lack the type of feel for the game and understanding of situations you would hope for from a player with his physical tools. Making freshman mistakes were not out of the question for the senior Carney this year. His free throw shooting could also stand to improve at just 71%.

You have to wonder what he is lacking in his game right now that prevents him from going all the way to the basket and just exploding off the ground for an athletic finish. Theories include strength, mental toughness, body control and physical toughness. These same all apply to his rebounding ability at the small forward position, where his natural physical tools should allow him to average more than just a paltry 4.3 rebounds per game. The other parts of the game that make up the boxscore, including his assists, steals and blocks are also not all that impressive, although much of this has to do with the fact that he doesn’t get as many minutes as most top 20 pick draft candidates.

Even though he’s a senior, you still never quite know what you are going to get when Carney hits the floor each night. One game he’ll explode for 37 points and 10 rebounds as he did against Louisiana Tech, and in the Elite Eight he’ll shoot 2/12 from the field for 5 total points. If he misses his first couple of jump-shots, he’ll often just disappear from the game for the rest of the night, looking tentative and awkward out on the floor and not quite knowing how to get himself back on track.

While Carney has improved his defense in his senior year, it still tends to waver depending on how he is doing on the offensive end that night. Coach Calipari did not hesitate to bring him off the bench early on in the season to try and motivate him to play harder. Memphis was one of the deeper teams in the country this year, and they only relied on Carney to play about 27 minutes per contest.

Competition:
Carney was not considered a highly touted recruit in high school, partially due to the fact that he did not play AAU basketball in the summer (the story says his coach thought it was bad for his fundamentals), but mainly because of the fact that he eventually improved greatly in each of his four years at Memphis.

Memphis was an especially strong team this year, being ranked in the top 10 for most of the season and eventually making the Elite Eight in the NCAA tournament. They played in a Conference USA that became very watered down after the departure of all of its top programs to the Big East besides Memphis, but scheduled the toughest out of conference schedule in the entire NCAA, with games against highly seeded NCAA tournament teams such as Duke, Gonzaga, Texas, Tennessee and UCLA, amongst others.

Carney’s numbers improved significantly in each of his four seasons at Memphis.

Outlook:
Carney is exactly the type of player whose stock likely skyrockets as reports begin to filter out about his exploits at private NBA workouts, which are tailor made for him to show off his extremely impressive strengths. He will test out athletically extremely well, show outstanding defensive potential in the 2 on 2 scrimmages, and likely shoot the ball at a great clip from NBA 3-point range in the drills. That, combined with his prototypical physical attributes, his solid college numbers and the fact that he clearly has plenty of upside to continue to improve will likely convince someone to draft him in the mid to late part of the lottery. He would be best suited playing for a team with a good point guard that likes to get up and down the floor and won’t rely too heavily on him to create offense off the dribble.

Facts: Brother Ron Slay was an All-SEC player at Tennessee a few years back, and finished up this past season in Israel.

Name:Shawne Williams
Height:6' 9"
Weight:227 pounds
Current Team:Memphis , Freshman
NBA Position:SF
Date of Birth:2/16/1986 (20 Years Old)
High School:Laurinberg Prep
Hometown:Memphis, TN
Earliest Draft Class:2005
Current Position:SF/PF
Possible Positions:SF/PF
Best Case Scenario:Tim Thomas
Worst Case Scenario:Dermarr Johnson
Profile Written By:Jonathan Givony
Last Updated:6/16/2006

Strengths:
In terms of physical attributes, Williams is one of the more intriguing wing small forwards in this draft. He has outstanding height at just a shade under 6-9 with a terrific wingspan and standing reach, and his frame shows plenty of potential to play either the 3 or the face-up 4 position depending on the direction he decides to head in. As an athlete, the best way to describe him would be “smooth”. Williams is not terribly explosive, but he gets to where he needs to on the floor and is quick off his feet to finish with a dunk or pull down a rebound.

Offensively, Williams has terrific potential as a mismatch threat. His size and the high release point and elevation he gets on his shot means that he will be able to get his shot off almost whenever he pleases, as well as the quickness in which he gets his shot off. Although he is anything but a consistent shooter from long range at this point in his career, there is plenty of reason to believe that he will become a fine outside shooter if he puts the work in. He was used mostly as a pick and pop threat at the collegiate level; and this is what his role in the NBA projects at as well. Whether it was from the high or low post, Williams consistently showed the ability to use his height to see the entire floor and find the open man with his terrific passing skills.

Thanks to his height and length, Williams has nice potential as an all-around stat-stuffer and has put together some nice lines in college with steals, blocks, rebounds and assists.

Considering the direction the NBA is heading towards, players like Williams are en vogue these days. Only being a freshman, he still has plenty of upside to continue to improve.

Weaknesses:
Williams played the power forward position in college and is still a bit stuck between positions as far as the NBA is concerned. This comes to play the most in his slashing and perimeter defense.
Williams is a bit averse to putting the ball on the floor and will rarely take it all the way to the basket. When he did in college, his dribble looked high and out of control at times, as he doesn’t get very low to the ground and lacks a bit of body control to finish in traffic in the lane.

Instead of taking the ball strong at the hoop, Williams has a tendency to settle for tough fadeaway jump-shots off the dribble, showing poor shot selection and really hurting his field goal percentage. He finished the season shooting 41% from the field and just 32% from behind the college 3-point line, but that did not stop him from attempting nearly five 3-pointers per game. While his shooting mechanics are very pretty, he leaps and lands forward on almost all of his shot attempts.

Learning how to use his size and length better to get higher percentage shots around the basket will help him become a more versatile player. His footwork in general needs to improve, whether it’s on the perimeter offensively and defensively or inside the paint to score over smaller defenders. He does not appear to be the most physical player in this draft, often shying away from contact.

Defensively, there are some questions marks regarding Williams’ ability to defend the perimeter. His lateral quickness is just average and his awareness on this end of the floor is less than ideal, often losing his focus and not always being terribly committed to staying in front of his man. Experience is a major factor here, as concepts like hedging a screen or rotating over on help defense are not things he particularly excels at. Like all Memphis players, he had a tendency to gamble for steals.

Despite only being a freshman, Williams is the same age as some juniors in this draft class, as he spent a year at prep school getting eligible for college after finishing high school.

Competition:
Williams was a highly touted high school player that did not make the cut for college right away and was forced to go to prep school at Laurinburg prep for a year. He joined Memphis for one season and looked to be on his way to contending for freshman of the year honors after an incredibly hot start, cumulated with a 21 point (5-7 3P), 7 rebound, 4 assist performance against UCLA and a 15 point, 8 rebound outing against Duke, both in the preseason NIT in November. He faded significantly once the in-conference portion of Memphis’ schedule begun, which was ironically substantially weaker than the murderer’s row they faced early on in the year. He finished the year averaging 13 points and 6 rebounds per game.

Outlook:
After an inconsistent freshman season, Williams decided to declare for the draft and eventually ended up hiring an agent after hearing that his stock looks fairly solid for the first round. This didn’t come as a huge surprise considering that Williams has always seemed to have the NBA on his mind since emerging as a top high school player, and even considered declaring after his one year at Laurinburg before coming up extremely flat in the high school all-star games. Some experts say that Williams is a strong candidate to be drafted in the top-20, with much of this having to do with how strongly Memphis coach John Calipari is supporting him through the media. Where he ends up landing is anyone’s guess in what appears to be one of the crazier drafts in recent memory. The team that drafts him will need to have patience, as the word “project” has come up following many of his private NBA workouts.

Name:Darius Washington
Height:6' 1"
Weight:195 pounds
Current Team:Memphis , Sophomore
NBA Position:PG
Date of Birth:12/7/1985 (20 Years Old)
High School:Edgewater
Hometown:Orlando, FL
Earliest Draft Class:2005
Current Position:PG
Possible Positions:PG
Best Case Scenario:Chauncey Billups
Worst Case Scenario:Early Rafer Alston
Profile Written By:Jeremy Osborne
Last Updated:3/29/2005

Strengths:
He is a terrific ball handler at the PG position. Knows how to use the spin move to his advantage and uses it well on the break to free himself up, create space, get to the basket and use his strength to finish strong. Simply put, he knows how to get to the rim and put the ball in the cup. Washington is definitely a scoring guard first and foremost, he is very dangerous in the open court and is extremely fast with the ball in his hands.

Washington has a great first step, and can break people down off the dribble at any moment. He is very good at changing directions, and loves to push the ball up the floor. He always has his head up in traffic, and knows how to find spaces to attack the defense, draw them in and kick it out to the open man. He has good foot-speed both with and without the ball.

Washington has good strength for such a young player, and is very good at finishing plays in traffic. He is not a hesitant player at all, and will attack the basket no matter who is in the paint on defense. He is very advanced for his age at drawing fouls with his ability to get to the rim. He has exceptional quickness and ball handling ability and gets to a line often for a player his size.
Washington is a gifted one on one offensive player, and seems to move effortlessly on the basketball court, possessing the natural scoring instincts that just can't be taught. He is very fluid and is a very good athlete for a guard. Washington has proven to be an effective outside shooter at times, but he is at his best around the hoop, where he is very good at getting his shot off and can make nimble moves while in the air off penetration.

Throughout his freshman year, Washington has become an increasingly productive outside shooter; he is not the type of guard that can only penetrate to create on offense. He has learned how to use pump fakes and jab steps to free himself up, and if he gets an open shot, he will knock it down. In his first season at Memphis, he almost shot 40% from the three-point line, and showed better and better shot selection as the season progressed.

He's shown to be a fiery competitor who does not back down from challenges and is not afraid to take a team on his back, which is great to see from a player his age and surely a good sign for the future.

Weaknesses:
Washington is not a pure PG at this point in time; he is a scoring guard first and foremost. He turns the ball over just as often as he gets an assist. To be a better NBA prospect he will have to improve his decision-making, shot selection and take better care of the basketball. I doubt he will ever be a true PG because that's just not his game, but he definitely can get better at controlling the tempo of the game, making better decisions with the ball in his hands, and creating for others as much as he creates for himself. Becoming a more consistent outside shooter, especially off the dribble, should also be a priority. Most NBA PG's have a pull-up jumper in their arsenal to compliment their slashing ability. Washington would be well served to work on this area of his game to make himself a more versatile player.

On defense, Washington has the quickness and athletic ability to be a fine defender at the PG position, but he hasn't shown much of that yet. He has the potential to do that, but right now that's an area of weakness in his game. He is not very good at putting pressure the ball, and it's not rare to see his man blow right by him for an easy layup. He'll have to work hard on this area.
Since Washington handles the basketball so often, some might say he cannot be effective without the ball in his hands. Sometimes he tends to over-dribble and force shots going to the basket. During some games, he puts up very good assist numbers, but other games he does not. For his stock to rise he will have to become a better passer, even though I do not think he is a typical true PG because that is not his game. He'll be playing in the NBA with players that are just as good as him, though, so he must show the ability to get everyone around him involved. Consistency and decision making is also something that he needs to work on, but that will hopefully come with time.

Competition:
Washington started out slow this year as a freshman, looking overwhelmed by having the huge role of being a starting PG on a Top25 ranked team as a freshman, without an adequate backup. As the season went on he has become a lot better and his production greatly increased on the court. His team did not make the tournament, though, and had a pretty disappointing year overall. His breakout game was at Louisville where he scored 25 points, had 5 rebounds and 5 assists. He also had a big game against Charlotte on the road where he had 29. However, against a very good defensive player in Carl Krauser early on in the year, Washington only had 7 points at Madison Square Garden. Later against Gilchrist at Maryland he had 9 points. His best game early on in his career came at Texas, where he had he had 23 points and 6 rebounds. Conference USA does not have many outstanding PG's that can match up with Washington athletically, but overall Washington has had some good games against good competition. When he comes back next year, there is no reason he shouldn't dominant on the offensive and even the defensive end at times.

Outlook:
Washington is a very talented basketball player from what he has shown so far as a freshman and certainly looks like a great prospect for the NBA as he continues to mature. He is extremely quick with the dribble and has a great first step. If he improves his passing and decision making on the court as well as overall shooting consistency, he will be a very good offensive weapon. In addition, if he picks up his intensity on defense, he will be even more of a complete player.
Washington would be best served to come back to Memphis next year and help his team win games, the best measure of a successful PG. If he has a quality sophomore year he could play possibly work himself into the lottery, or at least the 1st round. The only thing with his game that is a major question is his PG skills, and while that's a huge one at his height, his quickness and ability to penetrate along with an unselfish demeanor should help him develop into a player that can really make his teammates better.

Comments:
Athletically, he is one of the most talented PG's in the nation without question. Currently I believe he is the best PG prospect in this year's freshman class. When he is being aggressive, he is as good as getting to the rim as any PG in the NCAA. The challenge for Washington is to work on rounding out his game and become an even more complete player next year.

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