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June 29, 2005

NBA Draft more about dreams crushed than fulfilled

by Michael Bushnell, Page Editor
Tuesday night's NBA Draft was less interesting when it came to the top picks (a stiff with bad eyes, a bench player in college and a slow point guard), and far more compelling hours after the celebration began for top picks Andrew Bogut, and Marvin and Deron Williams.

What made the draft so fascinating, and sad, were the college underclassmen, and worse, the high school kids, who were left out to dry. The kids stupid enough not to learn from past draft failures and those around them who gave the players false hope, should be ashamed.

Louis Williams, the shooting guard at a South Gwinnett High in suburban Atlanta was Georgia's Mr. Basketball this past year. He had some of his games put on national television, including one on ESPN, where he was promoted as the game's big draw. The game against Flossmoor Academy in Jacksonville was moved to the 10,000 seat Gwinnett Coliseum.

Williams only heard terrible information around him; he was featured a couple times in SLAM Magazine and DIME Magazine, and was interviewed over and over in the Atlanta papers. People around Williams told him repeatedly that he was a sure first-round pick.

Whether it was Williams' anxious family, his friends who wanted to live this high life with him that they thought was out there, or a slimy agent; somebody lied to Louis Williams.

He went 45th last night, the 15th pick in the second round, to Philadelphia. That earns him nothing more than an invitation to training camp in October. Had he had even just one good year at Georgia, where he had committed to play college ball, he would have most certainly been a Top 30 pick next year, which would have landed him a guaranteed contract worth millions of dollars.

Instead, he will have to earn a spot riding the bench behind Allen Iverson and Kevin Ollie. Williams forgot that he was an undersized, thin (6'1", 175 pounds) two-guard who can't pass and is afraid to attack the basket. He compared himself over and over to Iverson, who is of the same size and stature.

Except Iverson played two years at Georgetown under legendary coach John Thompson. And he is the most fearless player in the NBA, and a brilliant passer. Other than that, the two are just alike. Welcome to the NBDL, Mr. Williams.

Williams had to suffer the embarrassment of being found out as nothing but a short, skinny guard. Most likely, after October, he'll be just another kid with a high school diploma. If Philly cuts him, Georgia's Mr. Basketball will be the same as any other member of the Class of 2005, if not much worse.

Someone also lied to Monta Ellis. Mississippi's Mr. Basketball too had games on national TV, was in SLAM Magazine before he got his diploma, and was told over and over he'd be a first round pick. He was a star in the Jackson area and he must have felt infallible.

He went 40th in the draft to Golden State. He's a 6'3" point guard with a brighter future than Williams, because of his grit and hustle. However, it might be hard for him to make the Warriors' roster behind Baron Davis, Derek Fisher, and Mikael Pietrus. A year at Mississippi State, a Top 25 school, and Ellis could have been the king of the Magnolia State.

Instead, he'll be Brevin Knight, only without the ability to pass the ball or run.

I read a story about Alabama junior Kennedy Winston on Tuesday. Winston left 'Bama early for the draft, and he was told he could make the first round. The story from The Mobile Register said that there "was no doubt that Kennedy Winston will be drafted."

Unless they brought back the Military Draft in the last 24 hours, that writer was dead wrong. Now Winston sacrificed a free education and an extra year in the SEC to hone his skills. At least Williams and Ellis will be going to an NBA training camp this year; who knows what will happen to Winston.

Or Matt Walsh, John Gilchrest, Dwyane Jones, Kelenna Azubuike or Randolph Morris. All college kids with eligibility left who were told they would spend their day after the draft at a press conference, smiling and holding up a jersey for the cameras in their new NBA home. Instead, they're buying TV dinners at Food Lion.

And have mercy on Andray Blache, a high school kid who wasn't taken until the 49th pick by Washington. GM Ernie Grunfeld was already talking about the NBDL, where Blatche will stand to make about $27 grand playing in Roanoke or Mobile.

Blatche, Williams and Ellis all were told that they were about to become instant millionaires. Now they face an unbelievable uphill climb to make that a reality.

How, or why these kids didn't watch NBA players and realize how much better those in the league are than them is beyond me. Azubuike can't dribble, Walsh is an awful shooter, and Jones was a role player on a mediocre St. Joe's team. These kids were told by the leaches around them things that weren't true and made them delusional about their talent.

I hope Blatche has dinner with Lenny Cooke, DeAngelo Collins, Taj McDavid, and Korleone Young high schoolers that declared for the draft and who all have played less than 50 games in the league combined.

All those players figured they could meet up for dinner some night at Morton's. Maybe it would be fitting for them and the terrible people who surrounded them to go there for a symbolic dinner. Or maybe a more fitting place to eat would be at KFC, and not because that's probably where Cisse and Cooke work now.

It wouldn't be the first time that they all ate crow.

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  • wow on June 30, 2005 at 9:29 AM
    excellent article here
  • ..sp on June 30, 2005 at 10:16 AM
  • bucky (View Email) on June 30, 2005 at 2:23 PM
    Cisse is in the NBDL last I saw. Cooke was playing for the Long Beach Jam of the ABA when he was in a car crash that broke both his legs. I don't know if he's played since then. Ellis would've gone first round, but there's questions of a gimpy knee that pushed him to two.
  • Numba One on June 30, 2005 at 2:27 PM
    It made me cry to see no one draft John Gilchrist who in my mind could have helped any team as a solid backup point guard.

  • uk fan (View Email) on June 30, 2005 at 6:47 PM
    i think that even being drafted in the 3rd round will be o.k for guys like morris azubuike walsh and gilchrist. They all seemed to have potientle and i think that a few teams made horrible picks and will need the young bloods in their lineups.
  • jfkd on July 1, 2005 at 10:19 AM
    walsh is not an awful shooter. where di u get that from
  • hey buddy on July 3, 2005 at 11:28 AM
    There is no third round.
  • Jonies (View Email) on September 27, 2005 at 6:22 PM
    I'm just happy that my good friend Andray Blache,made it,his dream came true and now I just wish him all the best!!!!!!!!!!luv ya Dre.
  • chickie (View Email) on February 12, 2007 at 4:57 PM
    I found this article/blog while searching for info on Andray Blache and Monta Ellis. Whoever is the author needs to do some research........Blache and Ellis were both top 5 players out of high school and are BOTH STARTING IN THE NBA in only there second year. Ellis is a superstar, while Blache is emerging FAST......(Louis Williams is on the sixers roster as well)
    • datechecker (View Email) on April 1, 2009 at 9:17 PM
      Do some research??? How--by looking into his crystal ball? The article was written in 2005. You posted in 2007.
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