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Monday, June 12, 2006

Sporting News' Mike DeCourcy on Darius Washington

My take on four guys exploring the NBA draft

Mike DeCourcy, Sporting News
June 9, 2006

Among the 60-plus young men competing at the NBA pre-draft camp this week in Orlando, there were eight who still have the option -- but perhaps not the desire -- to return to college basketball.

These were my impressions of how some high-profile underclassmen played, and what it meant:

Renaldo Balkman, forward, South Carolina. Balkman is a fine athlete and plays with great passion, but he does not have a feel for the game that leads to all that energy producing consistent results. He was overjoyed with his impressive performance on the camp's second day. But he lacks a singular skill that will excite the teams. He is not a great shooter or ballhandler and does not have a reliable post move. Unless somebody views him as a potential defensive stopper, it's hard to imagine him being taken earlier than the mid-second round.

Jordan Farmar, point guard, UCLA. Farmar made some impressive open-court passes, but there wasn't a sense he was in control of his team. He played with the camp's best shooter, Marquette's Steve Novak, but never was able to create open shots for him. Farmar was widely viewed as the only sure first-rounder in the camp, but he needs a greater command of the game to reach the top-10 position that could be his in a later draft.

Darius Washington, point guard, Memphis. Washington performed about as well as he can in the first camp game. He showed a surprising mastery of the pick-and-roll and a nice touch of athleticism on one breakaway dunk. He appeared more relaxed than he frequently is playing for the Tigers. But scouts still didn't seem thrilled with his presence in this draft.

Mustafa Shakur, point guard, Arizona. The sparkle he showed on the way to his senior year of high school has long since faded. He isn't exceptionally quick and is a poor shooter. He is very good at finding angles to squeeze into the lane and finishes well at the rim. But if somebody bumps him, Shakur isn't strong enough to complete the play. His length should be an asset, but the next time Shakur gets down into a defensive stance will be the first. If he stays in the draft -- and Arizona seems ambivalent about this -- he might go unselected.

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