Five years ago, Tito Horford was considered raw, but talented, which led to his being picked in the second round of the 1988 NBA draft. Four years ago, Kenny "Sky" Walker was soaring through the air during All-Star weekend in Houston, on his way to winning the NBA slam-dunk title. And two years ago, Lance Blanks had completed a solid college career, which earned him a pick in the first round of the 1990 draft.
Today the three are free agents fighting for jobs with the Washington Bullets, who start training camp at Shepherd College in Shepherdstown, W.Va. The odds against them making the team are long -- the Bullets have 12 guaranteed contracts and one non-guaranteed contract -- but the task of catching the eye of coach Wes Unseld and earning a roster spot is not impossible.
"The one thing I've come to learn about Wes is that he's not much for reputations," Bullets general manager John Nash said. "If you come into camp, play hard and outwork the guy you're battling with, you're likely to make the team."
Although veterans don't have to report to camp until Thursday, three will report today with the free agents and rookies. Doug Overton, who earned a spot with the team a year ago as a free agent; Brent Price, a second-round pick a year ago; and Don MacLean, who averaged 6.6 points in 62 games, will report early.
Most eyes probably will be on Calbert Cheaney, the team's first-round pick out of Indiana, and Gheorghe Muresan, a 7-foot-7, 333-pound second-round pick from Romania.
Horford (who played last season in Brazil), Walker (a former first-round pick of the New York Knicks who played last year in Spain) and Blanks are among seven free agents invited to camp by the Bullets.
Matt Othick, Arizona's all-time three-point shooter who split time last season between San Antonio and the CBA, will miss the first few days of camp because of a death in his family.