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June 25, 2009

NBA Draft 09: LiveBlog

Filed under: Basketball,Draft,liveblog,NBA — Chas @ 3:40 pm

I’m guessing there are going to be a ton of these tonight. Of course, this will be the only one with Pitt bias at the forefront.

YouTube clips of DeJuan Blair abusing Hasheem Thabeet will be re-posted around the same time Thabeet goes in the top-5.

Video links of Jonny Flynn being worn down by Pitt’s defense will be appreciated as well.

And of course, Sam Young highlights.

The fun starts around 7pm. Join in, here.

Final Pre-Draft Post

Filed under: Basketball,Draft,NBA — Chas @ 10:17 am

Barring anything really breaking that significantly effects the fate of DeJuan Blair or Sam Young, this should be the final post regarding the NBA Draft before tonight’s liveblog.

DeJuan Blair will be at a hotel in Pittsburgh with friends and family for the draft. No doubt with a camera that feeds to ESPN so they can show the reaction when drafted.

Sam Young, on the other hand will be in a cave away from the world. Or something close to that. Hiding in Atlanta.

The reclusive Young flew south on Wednesday from Washington, D.C., where he had been staying with family since leaving Pitt as the No. 4 all-time leading scorer in Panthers history.

The 24-year-old Young wanted to distance himself from the hectic pre-draft process – the workouts, agents, PR reps, handlers and media – and focus on his future in basketball.

“I just want to get away and be by myself,” Young said. “My family wanted to be around me and be in my corner. But I kind of wanted to be alone and reflect on basketball and how it works. It was my decision.”

Young seems placcid and is just patiently awaiting this. DeJuan Blair on the other hand

“I’m starting to get nervous,” said Blair, a first-team All-American as a sophomore last season. “I’m getting anxious waiting. I just want to know what NBA team I’ll be with.”

It has been an eventful two months for Blair, the Schenley High School graduate who left Pitt in April with two seasons of eligibility remaining. He has demonstrated a commitment to becoming a professional, changing his physique from lumpy to lean.

Blair, who stands 6 feet 6, lost 30 pounds in the past two months and has been impressive in workouts for NBA teams. Scouts and general managers love his competitiveness, his ability to rebound and his leadership qualities.

The main concerns are his two surgically repaired knees. Blair tore anterior cruciate ligaments in both knees while at Schenley, and even though he only missed one game in his two-year collegiate career, there seems to be some question about the long-term durability of those knees. There have been some reports that there might not be any ligaments remaining in the knees.

“I don’t have any ligaments, so what can I tear?” Blair joked. “What I’m saying to the teams is my knees are fine. I feel great. I’ve been playing on them for the last three or four years at Pitt and Schenley.”

Because there are some issues with his knees, Blair can potentially be drafted anywhere from the middle to later in the first round.

It also doesn’t help his nerves to see in the last minute mocks, he keeps slipping into the low 20s — including yet another ESPN mock.

The potential slide is purely about his knees. He’s answered most other questions. There’s really nothing he can do about this. He’s shown medical evidence of no deterioration.

Teams appear legitimately nervous, though, that they are going to blow a pick in the teens on a player that could blow out either knee. Yes, it can happen to any player at any time. Still, it seems more likely to happen to a player with a prior history.

As Luke Winn notes, Blair’s rebounding prowess alone should make him worth the risk.

Blair is as good a defensive rebounder as Love and Beasley, both top-five picks from last year’s loaded draft. Only Millsap, who turned out to be a huge second-round score for the Jazz, came close to Blair’s numbers on the offensive glass — and Millsap was playing in the WAC, not the Big East. Blair may be a bit one-dimensional, as his offensive game away from the basket is extremely limited, but he’s a lock to be a high-volume rebounder as a pro. In this year’s talent pool, that’s more than worth a pick in the 10-15 range.

For Pitt fans, the only reason to keep watching into the second round, is Tyrell Biggs’ longshot.

Tyrell Biggs returned home to Nanuet late Tuesday night, jet-lagged and groggy from yet another day this month spent trekking through an airport.

“I was coming from Portland,” Biggs said before catching himself. “No wait, I was actually in Memphis.”

Forgive Biggs for not remembering for a moment. June has just been that kind of month.

Since graduating from Pitt this spring, the power forward has worked out for six NBA teams, most recently with the Grizzlies on Tuesday, in an attempt to draw last-minute interest before tonight’s NBA draft. And yesterday, Biggs finally found time to relax.

“It’s been tiring and there’s been a lot of training,” said Biggs, who spent time at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., preparing for the workouts. “Overall, it’s been strenuous, but I’m hoping it will all be worth it.”

But Biggs is realistic and perfectly willing to go overseas to play.

For the Pitt program and Coach Jamie Dixon the good thing about this is putting Pit players in the NBA and getting their names called on draft night.

“It’s all positive,” Pitt coach Jamie Dixon was saying this week over the telephone from Colorado Springs, Colo., where he’s coaching USA Basketball’s under-19 team and preparing for the world championship tournament July 2-12 in Auckland, New Zealand.

“There are no negatives when your players are going to the NBA. It doesn’t matter if they go as seniors or juniors or sophomores.”

Should be a good night for Pitt.

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