"Three or four of the players here," said Scotty Stirling, a scout for the Sacramento Kings, "will be picked in the first round. Mark Hendrickson might be one of them."
They rode a school bus from the Hyatt Regency Hotel to a small gym in downtown Chicago where, in folding chairs circled around the court, sat the basketball gods.
Mark Hendrickson told himself not to look at their faces for it would spook his game. But, come on, there was Larry Bird over there, Lenny Wilkens up there, P.J. Carlesimo behind the beard, Bob Lanier against the wall, Pete Newell taking notes.
Wes Unseld, Bill Fitch, Bob Whitsitt, Del Harris, Rick Adelman, Bernie Bickerstaff, Tim Grgurich. Who wasn't there?
"If you think about it," said Hendrickson, "it will drive you nuts."
Not far from the circus that is the NBA Finals, is the pre-draft meat market, at the Moody Bible Institute, where among 57 players Hendrickson, Mark Sanford and Mark Pope are trying to look and act like NBA players.
The big names in the June 25 draft weren't here, Marcus Camby, Ray Allen, Stephon Marbury. Neither were the high-school kids, Kobe Bryant and Jermaine O'Neal...
Hendrickson, the Washington State star from Mount Vernon, has their attention. He also has them confused.
He was drafted for a fifth time by baseball, this time by the Texas Rangers. He is a 6-foot-9 left-handed pitcher.
"I think he'll play 10 years in the NBA," Stirling said. "He knows how to play; not a lot of guys here do. He has good footwork, and he knows how to score against quickness. What bothers the guys (scouts) is baseball."