June 24, 2007
Dudley pays dues
Jared Dudley will work out for the Celtics as part of their last predraft session on Wednesday, and it's unlikely that any other major Div. 1 conference player of the year has been forced to prove himself more than the former Boston College forward.
Florida State's Al Thornton - the player Dudley beat out for Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year - is considered a lottery pick.
But Dudley, who wasn't even recruited in his home state while coming out of high school in San Diego, hasn't groused. Ever since the league's predraft camp in Orlando, Fla., he has simply put his head down and hit the circuit.
He was particularly impressive during a stop in New Jersey, which is considering him, along with many others, at the 17th pick.
``We worked Dudley out and liked him a lot,'' Nets president Rod Thorn said. ``He's a put-together guy. He's a better shooter than some people felt. I think he's a guy who can come in and play right away.''
Dudley's lack of athleticism doesn't appear to have hurt him thus far.
``There's a lot of guys playing in this league that don't have great athleticism,'' Thorn said. ``But Jared is a guy who can definitely play in this league.''
Despite holding the 17th pick, Thorn feels particularly good that someone of quality is going to slide out of the top 15 Thursday night.
``We've worked out 40-some people so far, and when you pick, you hope that someone slides who you like,'' he said. ``And I would think we're going to get a slider. You could put about 18 names into those first 15 spots.'' . . .
One player generating some early slider karma appears to be Thornton, who has worked out as high as the Celtics with the fifth pick.
He's a great scorer who, in part due to having to be the man on a mediocre Florida State team, may not have Dudley's exceptional basketball sense.
But even worse, teams have discovered that he's not close to the 6-foot-8 he was listed at in college. He was reportedly measured at 6-5 3/4 during his Celtics workout.
Chinese guard Sun Yue, who worked out for two days with the Celtics last week, believes he rightly withdrew his name from draft consideration last year.
``Myself and my club did not think I was ready,'' said Sun, a 6-8 point guard with Beijing's Aoshen Club. ``I was not quick enough. But this year I am ready.''
Sun is also an important member of the Chinese national team - arguably the best point guard in the fastest-growing basketball nation - and that's where a trans-Pacific quarrel has suddenly broken out.
Jonas Kazlauskas, the Lithuanian coach who has been given the huge task of making China competitive as the host team in the 2008 Olympics, sounds a bit worried about two of his best players - Sun and lottery prospect Yi Jianlian - spending so much time working out for NBA teams.
Kazlauskas denigrated Sun during an interview with the Chinese media last week.
``If you ask me which skill Sun needs to improve in terms of playing in the NBA, I'd tell you he needs an all-around improvement, because he is not strong enough to join the games there,'' he said.
Kazlauskas added that Sun was jeopardizing his position on the national team by taking this extended hiatus. Sun's club team, in turn, has threatened to sue the coach for defamation.
``This is not defamation - this is the reality that Chinese players have to face,'' Kazlauskas retorted. ``If you don't want to accept the truth, how can you help the team to prepare for the Beijing Olympics?''
Sun, when asked about Kazlauskas' comments last week, smiled and shook his head.
``I'm not thinking about that right now,'' he said. ``I'm just focusing on working out for these teams. I think he might have had some kind of misunderstanding with the media.''
There is an outside chance that Sun could find himself taken by the same team as Yi. ``He has a big chance to be a very good player,'' Sun said of Yi. ``It would be good fortune if the right team picks him, and it would be good for the team that can make him comfortable.
``I hope I can play with him here,'' he said. ``I like playing with him. That would be very interesting because I already play with him on the national team.''