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June 2, 2009

It’s always good to have buzz increasing about your draft prospects when you start on the outside of the lottery or even on the fringe of the 1st round. DeJuan Blair’s sudden rise is obvious in no small part because he showed up to the Chicago combines in great physical shape.

Sam Young’s physique has not been in question. Following the freakiness in the Toronto workout, neither has his toughness.

He’s been training to increase his ball handling to be able to play some at the guard position (hat tip to Bryan H).

Meet Sam Young, slam-dunkin’ three-point-drainin’, lockdown defendin’ off guard.

The majority of NBA draftniks consider Young to be a 6-foot-6 small forward at the next level, but he is fully intent to change some minds in the days and months ahead.

“For sure,” Young told Inside Pittsburgh Sports at the NBA Combine. “A lot of people don’t think that I can play the two guard, but my ball-handling has gotten to a point that I will play a lot there. I can even bring the ball up the floor. When all is said and done, I’ll definitely be a two.”

In the last two months, Young spent long hours to acclimate himself to the three-point shot, NBA style. In the pros, the arc is located 23 feet, nine inches from the basket, three feet further than in the college game.

“At the beginning, I thought it would affect me a little bit,” Young said of the added distance. “But now, I’m shooting it pretty consistently, especially at the private workouts and (the NBA Combine).

And to think, there was a point as a sophomore where he bristled at being put at small forward instead of power forward.

Yesterday he was working out for the Golden State Warriors with several other teams in attendance, and the reviews were solid.

According to several observers who saw the two afternoon workouts, Pittsburgh’s Sam Young was the most impressive player. Young, a 6-foot-6 swingman, was in Group 1, and played with/against Luke Harangody (Notre Dame), Joe Ingles (Australia), Damion Jones (Texas), Jeff Pendergraph (Arizone State) and Marcus Thornton (LSU).

Five-on-five scrimmaging was not part of the workouts. Instead, players were put through stretching exercises, shooting drills, individual skill work and then some 3-on-3 competition.

It was in the 3-on-3s that Young outplayed Jones and Thornton, according to some.

Of that group, only Thornton seems to get much mention for going in the 1st round. Right in the same mid- to late-20s area where Young has been.

Blair Closing In On Lottery

Filed under: Basketball,Draft,NBA,Players — Chas @ 12:05 am

Less than two weeks until the NBA Draft and DeJuan Blair finds himself getting mentioned more and more in the top-14 picks. New Jersey at #11 seems to be the place, since they spoke of needing a “moose.” Of course that goes out the window if they end up getting Carlos Boozer in free agency.

This past week at the Chicago combine, Blair really didn’t surprise in the measurables.

DeJuan Blair measured just 6’5.25 without shoes making him just 6’6 (exactly what we had him listed at all season), but an amazing 7’2 wingspan and a standing reach of 8’10.5 gives him legitimate power forward size. His 1.5 inch standing reach advantage over Griffin almost doesn’t seem possible.

He also showed up in fantastic shape. And his personality is going to be an asset.

Pittsburgh’s DeJuan Blair has about as much buzz as any player in the draft right now, and he obviously is enjoying showing off his new chiseled physique. “I lost 38 pounds,” he tells us afterwards with a huge grin on his face. He’s relishing the chance to make his presence felt in this setting, no longer asked to lead fast breaks or shoot NBA 3-pointers like he was in the first day.

“I felt much more comfortable out there today,” he explains. “I wanted to dunk the ball hard. Give them something to remember me by.”

Blair particularly shines in the interviews with teams and the media day sessions, showing off his gregarious personality that some go as far as to compare to Shaquille O’Neal. “That’s just me,” Blair tells us with a smile. “I love being around people.”

Once more using the doubts about his decision to go pro as motivation.

It’s a long way from where he was when he first hired agent Happy Walters, when many said he made a mistake by declaring for the NBA draft.

“That’s just something that the people that just wanted to see me back in college again say or thought I wasn’t ready for it. There are a lot of different things people could have went from. I think I’m ready for it; I’m trying to adjust to it and the NBA life. It’s going to be great. Like I’ve said before, if your dreams are in front of you, why not go and reach for them? You never know what could happen. My dream was in front of me so I reached and grabbed it and I’m holding onto it tight. I’m not going anywhere.”

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