Archive for Sunday, June 20, 2004

KU newcomer recalls top prep Howard

June 20, 2004

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There still is suspense surrounding the No. 1 pick in Thursday's NBA Draft.

Barring a trade, Orlando is expected to select one of two centers -- Connecticut's Emeka Okafor or Atlanta high schooler Dwight Howard.

The 6-foot-10, 240-pound Howard is bidding to become the third high schooler to be tapped No. 1 in four years. LeBron James (2003) and Kwame Brown (2001) are the others.

Yao Ming was selected first in 2002.

"I would say he is definitely ready for the NBA because he is so big. He's fast and strong," said KU freshman-to-be Sasha Kaun, who guarded Howard during the Capital Classic all-star game April 17 in College Park, Md. "It was a different experience. He's the best one (center) I've ever guarded."

Howard was named MVP after scoring 18 points and grabbing 15 boards while playing 38 minutes in a 107-96 victory. The 6-foot-11, 240-pound Kaun did not score and had one rebound while logging nine minutes. Incoming KU guard Russell Robinson, a teammate of Howard's, had five assists and a basket.

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KU to be blanked: For the first time in four years, no KU player will be selected in Thursday's draft.

Miami reportedly has expressed interest in former Jayhawk center Jeff Graves, who, if undrafted, possibly could land an invitation to the Heat's summer camp.

"I keep hearing about teams," said Graves, who is averaging 7.9 points and 5.9 boards a game with the Kansas Cagerz of the USBL. He has hit 39.7 percent of his shots.

"I think I'm improving. I might have to show my capability of scoring. I have to prove I can score and drive, do some things besides play defense and rebound."

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KU represented at NBA camp: Future Jayhawks Mario Chalmers and Micah Downs are playing on the same team this weekend at the National Basketball Players Assn. top 100 camp in Richmond, Va.

The invitation-only event is in its 10th year. Organizers say the goal of the camp is to prepare the players for life in the NBA. Of the 110 players expected to attend, some may enter the NBA draft after high school or after two or three years of college.

Chalmers is a 6-2 high school senior-to-be from Anchorage, Alaska, and Downs is a 6-7 guard/forward from Bothell, Wash.

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