Dreams revised for unchosen after NBA rough draft Early candidates often wind up at lower levels, if at all

THE BALTIMORE SUN

For Stephon Marbury, the question most asked these days is simply why? Why leave Georgia Tech after his freshman year? Why give up college life for the hectic pace of the NBA? Why exchange college greatness for possible struggles at the next level?

Marbury usually answers the question with a question: Why not?

"If you were to tell a college student, 'Here's $2 million to come out, or stay in school,' what would you do?" Marbury, speaking two weeks ago at the NBA pre-draft camp, asked. "If it's something you enjoy doing and you can make a lot of money, why not?"

Leaving Georgia Tech was an easy decision for Marbury. He will be among the top picks -- maybe even the No. 1 pick of the Philadelphia 76ers -- during Wednesday's draft at the Continental Airlines Arena in East Rutherford, N.J.

But for every can't-miss product like a Marbury, there's Taj McDavid (Palmetto High School) or a Chris Nurse (Delaware State): players of questionable talent who declare themselves as early entry candidates for the NBA draft.

At one time there were 42 players who had filed for early entry into the NBA draft. In the past week, several players, such as Terquin Mott of Coppin State, have reconsidered their decision and decided to return to school. But even after Monday, the deadline when players can change their minds, this year's draft will have more early entry candidates than any other.

And a lot of them are about to enter a system where there is some hope they do not succeed.

"These guys are coming out to get their first three years [maximum for rookie contracts, which are capped] out of the way, and then get their money," said Gary Fitzsimmons, player personnel director for the Cleveland Cavaliers. "Then they can -- be a free agent. That's their reasoning and rationale.

"To stop this trend, we need to have enough failures," Fitzsimmons said. "Everyone is using the Kevin Garnett situation. Nobody is trying to use the John Wallace situation."

Winners and losers

When the list of the early entry candidates for the 1995 draft was released, both Garnett and Wallace were on it. Garnett was a tall, lanky teen-ager out of Farragut Academy in Chicago; Wallace was a junior forward at Syracuse.

Even with three solid seasons at Syracuse behind him, Wallace was projected as a late first-rounder because of questions about his outside shooting and his maturity. He withdrew his name just before the draft, and is now a projected lottery pick after averaging 22.2 points per game and leading the Orangemen to the national championship game.

"It was my own self-evaluation," Wallace said of returning to school. "You can't go into the NBA with some of the mannerisms I had. Knowing that, I controlled [my attitude] a lot more my senior year."

But a lot of the young players use Garnett as their measuring stick. Garnett, 6 feet 11, was impressive in averaging 10.4 points while starting 43 games last season for the Timberwolves.

Many of the college players were influenced by Garnett's success. And so were high schoolers Kobe Bryant and Jermaine O'Neal, two of the nation's top prep players who have declared for the draft. Both Bryant, son of former NBA player Joe Bryant, and O'Neal should be first-round picks. O'Neal, because he is 6-11, probably will be a mid to late first-round pick by a team hoping to develop him as a center. The stock of Bryant, at one time considered to be a possible late lottery selection, appears to be falling as team officials question whether a 6-6 guard with questionable shooting skills can make the transition to the NBA right out of high school.

"I saw him in the [Pennsylvania] state finals in Hershey, then again in the McDonald's game in Pittsburgh," Golden State Warriors general manager Dave Twardzik said. "In those games, there was no one I watched and said 'Wow.' There was no one who caught my eye as ready to be a pro, no one with the necessary physical and emotional maturity."

Still Bryant, who already has a sneaker deal with adidas, knows there is enough intrigue by an NBA team to take a chance on his being another Garnett or another Shawn Kemp. Teams will take the chance, even as they express concerns about whether the players are prepared.

"These kids are losing out on some of their developmental years [in college] to come to the NBA," said John Gabriel, vice president of the Orlando Magic. "A lot of times, it's tough to devote time to developing players during the season."

Reality check

A lot of the early entry candidates already feel their game is developed and are shocked when faced with reality.

Such was the case with Scotty Thurman, who in 1994 hit a big three-point shot against Duke that helped Arkansas to the national championship. Thurman had the name recognition and came from a big program. Still, he went undrafted and wound up playing all of last season in the CBA.

"It was a decision that we made as a family and it's one that there are no regrets," said Scotty's mother, Roma Thurman, speaking from her home in Louisiana. "He felt he was ready. And he's working hard so he can play in the NBA next year."

Thurman, even with his disappointment, at least has desire. He's working out this summer in Little Rock, Ark., with Sacramento Kings forward Corliss Williamson, a former Razorbacks teammate.

Others can't handle the failure of not reaching the NBA.

Such was the case with Parrish Casebier, a star forward at Evansville who declared himself eligible for the draft after his junior season in 1993. Casebier, a top player in the Midwestern Collegiate Conference, went undrafted. Despite his success in college, there really was not a market in the NBA for 6-3 forwards. What followed were several run-ins with the law. Casebier is in a prison in Indiana after being convicted last year of sexual assault.

"Each kid that comes out thinks he can make it," said Evansville coach Jim Crews. "Next, they see the money. It's very simple. I think it's irrelevant what the coach thinks. There's a lot of pressure on these guys. They don't realize it's such a small, small number of people who actually make it."

Kevin Simpson, a Southern High School product, wants to be part of that small number. There were questions about his ability when he declared himself eligible for the draft, following two years at Dixie (Utah) Community College.

Still, Simpson secured a spot at the pre-draft camp in Chicago, and impressed scouts. The 6-4 guard had one of the highest scoring games of the week in Chicago (24 points, six of 10 from the field, 12 of 13 from the line), and was one of the best players in Chicago in terms of driving to the basket.

Even though he's a long shot, Simpson is confident.

"I don't care what other people say," Simpson said. "I know what I'm able to do, and I think I can play at the next level."

Those who have been left behind

In the past five years, 33 of 74 early entries into the draft did not make the NBA.

1995 (19 early entry candidates)

Name -- Michael Evans

School -- Okaloosa JC

Yr. -- So.

Draft status -- Not drafted

Now -- Unknown

Name -- Rashard Griffith

School -- Wisconsin

Yr. -- So.

Draft status -- Milwaukee (2)

Now -- Playing in Turkey

Name -- Scotty Thurman

School -- Arkansas

Yr. -- Jr.

Draft status -- Not drafted

Now -- Playing in CBA

Name -- Darroll Wright

School -- Missouri Western

Yr. -- Jr.

Draft status -- Not drafted

Now -- Unknown

1994 (15)

Name -- Maurice Barnett

School -- Elizabeth City

Yr. -- Jr.

Draft status -- Not drafted

Now -- Harlem Globetrotters

Name -- Jamie Brandon

School -- LSU

Yr. -- Jr.

Draft status -- Not drafted

Now -- Played in Malaysia for two weeks

Name -- Rennie Clemons

School -- Illinois

Yr. -- Jr.

Draft status -- Not drafted

Now -- Never played (home in Decatur, Ill.)

Name -- Sedric Curry

School -- North Dakota State

Yr. -- Jr.

Draft status -- Not drafted

Now -- Car salesman in Chicago

Name -- Leman Haynes

School -- Augusta College

Yr. -- Jr.

Draft status -- Not drafted

Now -- Unknown

Name -- Cedric Moore

School -- Alabama

Yr. -- Jr.

Draft status -- Not drafted

Now -- Playing in Europe

Name -- Johnny Tyson

School -- Central Oklahoma

Yr. -- Jr.

Draft status -- Not drafted

Now -- Professional in Spain/World League

1993 (12)

Name -- Milton Bell

School -- Richmond

Yr. -- Jr.

Draft status -- Not drafted

Now -- Unknown

Name -- Parrish Casebier

School -- Evansville

Yr. -- Jr.

Draft status -- Not drafted

Now -- In prison in Indiana

Name -- Shawn Copes

School -- Lamar

Yr. -- Jr.

Draft status -- Not drafted

Now -- Unknown

Name -- James Dickinson

School -- Seton Hall

Yr. -- Jr.

Draft status -- Not drafted

Now -- Earned degree in teaching

Name -- Etienne Preira

School -- Senegal

Draft status -- Not drafted

Now -- Unknown

1992 (16)

Name -- Ameer Aziz

School -- St. Paul's (Va.)

Draft status -- Not drafted

Now -- Unknown

Name -- John Beauford

School -- Southern Tech

Yr. -- Jr.

Draft status -- Not drafted

Now -- Unknown

Name -- Anthony Cade

School -- Seminole (Okla.) JC

Yr. -- So.

Draft status -- Not drafted

Now -- Unknown

Name -- Mark Chappell

School -- Iowa State

Yr. -- Jr.

Draft status -- Not drafted

Now -- Unknown

Name -- Dallas Lee Cothrum

School -- Austin College

Yr. -- Jr.

Draft status -- Not drafted

Now -- Unknown

Name -- Troy King

School -- Beaver City (Pa.) CC

Yr. -- So.

Draft status -- Not drafted

Now -- Unknown

Name -- Benny Maxwell

School -- Western New Mexico

Yr. -- Jr.

Draft status -- Not drafted

Now -- Unknown

Name -- Melvin Robinson

School -- Arizona State

Yr. -- Jr.

Draft status -- Not drafted

Now -- Playing in CBA

Name -- Tony Scott

School -- Syracuse

Yr. -- Jr.

Draft status -- Not drafted

Now -- Living in Rochester

Name -- Jeff Theilet

School -- La Verne (Calif.)

Yr. -- Jr.

Draft status -- Not drafted

Now -- Unknown

Name -- Michael Wawrzyniak

School -- Cleveland State

Yr. -- Jr.

Draft status -- Not drafted

Now -- Living in Cleveland

1991 (12)

Name -- Tony Farmer

School -- Nebraska

Yr. -- Jr.

Draft status -- Not drafted

Now -- CBA/playing in France

Name -- Jermoe Harmon

School -- Louisville

Yr. -- Jr.

Draft status -- Not drafted

Now -- Playing in CBA

Name -- Anderson Hunt

School -- UNLV

Yr. -- Jr.

Draft status -- Not drafted

Now -- Playing in CBA

Name -- Raoul Hutchens

School -- Whittier

Yr. -- Jr.

Draft status -- Not drafted

Now -- Unknown

Name -- Ty Moseler

School -- Wisconsin-Waukesha

Yr. -- So.

Draft status -- Not drafted

Now -- Unknown

Name -- Chancellor Nichols

School -- James Madison

Yr. -- Jr.

Draft status -- Not drafted

Now -- Playing in CBA

1996 NBA draft

Where: Continental Airlines Arena, East Rutherford, N.J.

When: Wednesday, 7: 30 p.m.

TV: TNT

Radio: ESPN Radio

Rounds: Two rounds

Projected top picks: Allen Iverson, G, Georgetown; Stephon Marbury, G, Georgia Tech; Marcus Camby, F, Massachusetts; John Wallace, F; Syracuse; Ray Allen, G, Connecticut; Shareef Abdur-Rahim, F, California; Erick Dampier, C, Mississippi State

Pub Date: 6/23/96

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