Ante Tomic Likely Staying in the Draft
On the heels of signing Finnish point guard Petteri Koponen, agent Marc Cornstein returned a call from DraftExpress to discuss the prospects of his latest signing, as well as the many other international players he is currently representing in this years draft.
The most intriguing news to come out of that conversation is probably the fact that, according to Cornstein, 7-2 Croatian center Ante Tomic is planning on keeping his name in this years draft. Barring an injury, Tomic is committed to being in this years draft, Cornstein reiterated on numerous occasions. This is not a case of a European prospect testing the waters looking for feedback. We are not looking to pull his name out.
Cornstein and his partners at Pinnacle Management are not only expecting Tomic to stay in, they also seem to have a pretty good indication of where hes going to land in this years draft. I have a good feel for where hes going to get picked, and Im very pleased with it.
Tomic is planning on coming to the States once the Croatian league playoffs are over, if his team makes it. His buyout situation will not be a problem according to Cornstein, as him and the team are likely to work something out for the standard 500K, plus a percentage of his rookie contract.
JamesOn Curry Declares for the Draft
Oklahoma State combo guard JamesOn Curry has entered his name in this years draft, a source close to the situation told DraftExpress on Friday. Curry, a junior, will not be hiring an agent at this time, and is hoping to participate in the Orlando pre-draft camp next month. As of right now Curry is a long-shot to make the first round, but he is hoping to show scouts that he is a better prospect than he got to show at Oklahoma State.
A Change of Heart for Nicolas Batum
Ndiyae told DraftExpress that Batum wants to have an impact in Pro A [French first division] first before leaving for the NBA. He wants to spend another season in the Euroleague as well, and is not interested in potentially sitting on the bench in the NBA next season. This is a personal preference for Batum, who says that he is not afraid of the scrutiny he will face next season as the top International prospect in the draft. He knows that he would be a lottery pick this year, but thinks that he has a chance to compete for the #1 overall spot in the draft after next season.
Batums contract runs until June 2009, but we can expect some changes to be made to it over the next few days. For one, he will be assigned a personal trainer during the off-season to help with his overall skill level, as well as a shooting coach who will work with him throughout all of next year. He can also expect a very nice raise in his salary, but will still maintain a reasonable buyout for the NBA.
Petteri Koponen Officially Declares
After leading his team to the league championship in Finland last week, Petteri Koponen has declared for the NBA draft. Koponen has hired agent Marc Cornstein from Pinnacle Sports to represent him. The young guard from Finland has indicated that he will just be testing his stock for now, and he will pull out without a promise in the first round.
Koponen emerged at the Nike Hoop Summit a couple weeks ago. Before the trip to Memphis, he was relatively unknown to most people out of Finland, but the strong performance against top U.S. high schoolers helped him emerge as a draft prospect. He finished the game with 7 points and 6 assists while showing good shooting range and fantastic command of the pick and roll.
The 19-year old started for the majority of the season at point guard for the Honka Playboys, who finished the year as the top team in the country. On the season, he averaged 12.5 points, 3.7 assists, 2.5 rebounds, and 1.7 steals while shooting 54.2% from the field, 39.2% from behind the three point line, and 84.1% at the free throw line, on 31 minutes per game playing for the Honka Playboys.
The plan for now is to have Koponen fly to the United States on May 20th, where he will prepare for workouts and potentially the pre-draft camp. Without a promise in the first round, he will pull his name out and move to a higher level of competition in Europe for next season. There are several clubs in Europe who reportedly have interest in acquiring Koponens services for the 2007-2008 season, so if the draft doesnt work this year there will be a good opportunity for him to prove he can play against top level European competition.
Gallinari Staying Another Year
Danilo Gallinari's father and agent, Vitor Gallinari, informed DraftExpress that his son will be staying in Italy for another season, saying that he is "too young."
Belinelli In, Hires Excel Sports Management
Marco Belinelli announced yesterday that he will be entering the draft via the Official site of the Italian league, Lega Basket. Belinelli will be represented in the States by Sam Goldfeder and Jeff Schwartz of Excel Sports Management. Excel also represents players such as Jason Kidd, Paul Pierce, Lamar Odom, Emeka Okafor, Josh Howard and many others.
Rush Declaring on Friday
Brandon Rush will be announcing his intentions to enter the draft at a press conference on Friday, a source with knowledge of the situation confirmed to DraftExpress on Tuesday. Rush will preserve his NCAA eligibility by not hiring an agent at this time, and will be waiting to see whether he is projected as a top-20 pick before he decides whether to keep his name in the draft. Rush will be meeting with Kansas coaching staff tomorrow (Wednesday) to inform them of his decision.
Its possible that this report could set things into gear a little earlier, causing the press conference to be bumped up to Thursday.
Crittentons Decision Coming Soon
Javaris Crittenton will be announcing his draft intentions either tomorrow (Wednesday) or Thursday, but its still up in the air as to what that decision will be, a source close to the situation told DraftExpress Tuesday night. Crittenton received the feedback he requested from the NBA Undergraduate Advisory Committee on Monday, and will be sitting down with his circle of people to decide what he wants to do. In response to our inquiry, the source went on to say that Crittentons thought-process will not be affected by Thaddeus Young, Darren Collison or anyone else.
Shaun Pruitt Officially In
Steve Pruitt, the father of Illinois junior big man Shaun Pruitt, informed DraftExpress that his son officially put his name in the draft today. A release sent to DraftExpress by Pruitt reads as follow:
After much thought, Ive decided to enter the 2007 NBA draft. This is an option many juniors coming off a solid season should consider. I feel Ive established myself as one of the top big men in the Big 10 and I want to evaluate my ability to compete on the next level.
Over the past 3 years Ive learned a lot from the Illinois coaches, and my teammates have helped make me a better player. Ive also worked very hard to improve my skills, strength, stamina and overall game. I feel I have the potential to help an NBA team with my size, strength, work ethic, ability to run the floor and rebound. I thank my family, the fans, athletic department and supporters of the Illinois basketball program, for the support Ive received over the past 3 years.
Completing my University of Illinois degree is very important to me. Being just a few credits from graduation, I will continue to pursue academic interests this spring and summer, while I continue intense workouts.
I am aware of the NCAA rules regarding the draft. I have not hired an agent and with the help of my father, I will communicate with NBA teams and arrange workouts.
The Latest in the Hasheem Thabeet Saga
The latest from the neverending Hasheem Thabeet saga says that hes currently leaning towards returning to UConn next year. This according to a source we spoke to this evening. A story written by Andy Katz on ESPN.com seems to imply that in a backhanded way as well.
Thabeets guardian Oliver Noah on the other hand did not seem to know either way what the situation is. I have no idea, Oliver told DraftExpress on Tuesday. I talked to Hasheem today, and he didnt say anything. He has 5 more days, and a decision will come this week. I will find out more tomorrow.
Blue Equity's Big Year Continues
After already having landed one likely top-10 pick in Joakim Noah, Jonathan Blue's firm Blue Equity pulled off another coup by surprisingly landing Noah's Florida teammate, Corey Brewer. Blue Equity is headed by former IMG president Bill Strickland and Yannick Noah's agent Donald Dell (still a force in the tennis world), as well as the up and coming Kim Grillier.
In addition to Brewer, Strickland also managed to pull in Mario Boggan of Oklahoma State. Boggan probably hurt himself by declining his invite to Portsmouth earlier this month, but at the very least will be considered an excellent prospect for Europe. Boggan likely has other thoughts at this point, though, and will be crossing his fingers hoping for an invite to the Orlando pre-draft camp in late May.
Besides possibly Aaron Goodwin and Goodwin Sports Management signing Al Horford and Kevin Durant, Blue Equity might be having the biggest year of any sports agency around, despite seemingly coming out of nowhere.
Brandan Wright Meeting with Agents
As exclusively reported by DraftExpress on Saturday, Brandan Wright indeed called a press conference on Monday to announce entering his name in the draft.
And while Wright insisted that he will not be hiring an agent yet, and therefore is seemingly keeping the option to return to Chapel Hill next year open, multiple industry sources told DraftExpress on Monday that that will only be temporary. Wright is scheduled to begin meeting with agents next week, and will hire one shortly after.
Brandan Wright Entering
North Carolina freshman Brandan Wright will be announcing his intentions to enter the NBA draft on Monday, multiple sources told DraftExpress Saturday evening.
Wright had been going back and forth on whether to declare or not for the past few weeks, but finally decided to put his name in the draft after meeting with Roy Williams this weekend and being urged by the North Carolina head coach himself to not pass up the opportunity of being a top 5 pick.
Wrights next move will be to hire an agent.
With Wright in the draft, there are now only a handful of first round prospects who still havent announced their decision. And although things could still go in either direction, this is a snapshot of what things look like according to the people weve spoken to over the past few days.
Thaddeus Young- After initially appearing to be a lock to enter the draft just a few weeks ago, Young might now be wavering on his decision, for two reasons. The unexpected entries of Julian Wright and Nicolas Batum puts two small forwards who will certainly be taken ahead of him in his way, and the subsequent feedback Young and his uncle have received has not been as encouraging as first thought. Young is currently projected by most NBA teams as a late first round pick, which is shaky ground to be on when considering the volatility of the NBA draft. That could very well be enough to send him back to Georgia Tech for his sophomore year .
Javaris Crittenton- While Young seems to be leaning towards returning, Crittenton has become a lot more likely to enter the draft since the last update we posted on his situation. A final decision wont come until sometime next week, but if we had to bet based off everything were hearing, wed say that Crittenton is in.
Brandon Rush- As Gary Bedore of the Lawrence Journal World has been reporting, Rush is still waiting to see who else enters before he makes his decision on whether to burn his lone draft card. Speaking of Kansas players, Darrell Arthur will be returning from what weve been told, even though no official announcement has been made.
Rodney Stuckey- Gary Washburn of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported that Stuckey will be filing his paperwork to enter the draft last Friday, but we still havent heard any official announcement. Still, its been widely assumed by everyone weve spoken to that Stuckey will surely be in the draft, and hes already reportedly been interviewing agents in case he decides to keep his name in.
Chris Lofton- Dan Farkas of Knoxville NBC affiliate WBIR quoted Tennessee head coach Bruce Pearl saying that Chris Lofton will "most likely return" to Tennessee for his senior year. While its odd that a player of Loftons stature wouldnt at least test the waters this year to go through the draft process once and get a feel of what things will be like following his senior year, this certainly sounds like good news for Bruce Pearl.
Sean Williams- According to sources weve spoken to, Williams is in the process of interviewing agents right now and will certainly be in this years draft. Not making a public announcement on his intentions until he gets some professional help on the PR side of things seems to make plenty of sense.
James Davis- Going back to school.
Hasheem Thabeet- Hes in hes out hes back in hes back out it doesnt seem like anyone knows at this point what is going on anymore. UConn did lose out on Thabeets potential replacement, 6-11 big man Anthony McLain, who decided to sign with Cincinnati.
The process seems to be going quite a bit slower this year in terms of players deciding who to select to represent them, as the fact that no workouts can be conducted until June 6th means that there really isnt a huge rush to sign. With that said, weve still heard about a good amount of players who have made up their mind. Including:
Kevin DurantAaron Goodwin
Nick Young-- Aaron Mintz/Mark Bartelstein (Priority Sports)
Aaron GrayJustin Zanik/Andy Miller (ASM Sports)
Jared Dudley- Aaron Mintz/Mark Bartelstein (Priority Sports)
Alando TuckerBill Duffy (BDA Sports)
Morris AlmondLon Babby (Williams & Connolly)
Arron AfflaloSam Goldfeder (Excel Sports Management)
Kyle Visser-- Lance Young (Octagon)
Herbert Hill-- Bill Duffy (BDA Sports)
Russell CarterBill Strickland/Kim Grillier (Blue Equity)
Wilson ChandlerChris Grier Luchey (CGL Sports)
Trey Johnson-- Mark Bartelstein (Priority Sports)
Demetris Nichols-- Bill Duffy (BDA Sports)
J.R. ReynoldsJason Levien (Levien Sports)
Bobby Brown-- Aaron Mintz/Mark Bartelstein (Priority Sports)
Jermareo DavidsonAndy Miller (ASM Sports)
Darryl Watkins-- Mark Bartelstein (Priority Sports)
Ron Lewis-- Jason Levien (Levien Sports)
DaShaun Wood-- Bill Strickland/Kim Grillier (Blue Equity)
Mustafa ShakurLeon Rose (CAA)
Rashad Jones-Jennings - Leon Rose (CAA)
Jared JordanBill Duffy (BDA Sports)
D.J. StrawberryBill Duffy (BDA Sports)
Just like last year, well be putting together our agent listings sometime next week, so please do email us (using the link below) to notify us of signings we havent covered yet or to correct us if were wrong on anything.
The Latest 4/18
Claudio Crippa, the Director of Scouting for Euroleague powerhouse CSKA Moscow, officialy informed DraftExpress via email that their 6-7 guard Anton Ponkrashov "will NOT be available for the 2007 NBA Draft." As CSKA relays, Ponkrashov will be automatically eligible for the 2008 draft.
Three members of the DraftExpress staff will be in Athens in the first week of May to watch Ponkrashov, Tiago Splitter and many other interesting players participate at the Euroleague Final Four.
Dorsey Staying Put
Big man Joey Dorsey informed DraftExpress' Jonathan Watters today that he will return to Memphis this fall for his senior season. Speculation had emerged that Dorsey, who turned 23 in December, would put his name on the early entry list and attempt to play his way into an NBA guarantee at the Orlando pre-draft camp. In the end, though, Dorsey decided to inform coach John Calipari that he will be returning to Memphis without testing the NBA waters.
Dorsey showed flashes of NBA potential during his junior year, providing a perimeter-heavy Memphis squad that would eventually defeat Nevada and Texas A&M to advance to the Elite Eight with its only traditional presence in the paint. Dorsey overpowered most opponents on the glass and around the rim with a potent mix of explosiveness and power.
But there were several critical weaknesses that kept the already elderly (by NBA Draft standards) Dorsey in school. Dorsey rebounded with lethal effectiveness and consistently attacked the rim with a ferocity rarely seen outside of NBA arenas, but the 7 points, 9 rebounds and 2 blocks arent exactly dominating numbers.
Dorsey has been unable to overcome foul problems that have plagued him his entire career and limited him to 25 minutes per game in 06-07. His tendency to get frustrated after being called for one foul often led to another before John Calipari could sub him out, and Dorsey must learn how to restrain himself in situations where his presence on the court is critical to a Memphis win.
He is often compared to Ben Wallace in terms of how he impacts the game at the college level and this is probably a fair comparison, but there is more to it than athleticism, strength and toughness. Dorsey shot just 46% from the free throw line as a junior, which was a career high. This is a critical issue, because his natural abilities would allow him to get to the line quite a bit more if he could knock them down with any sort of consistency.
Furthermore, Dorseys season ended on a sour note after brash comments in the days before his Elite Eight showdown with Greg Oden drew negative attention across the country. Dorsey then failed to back up all the talk, being held scoreless in 19 foul-plagued minutes and putting in his worst effort of the season with his best chance to make a good impression on the line.
This, and a positive situation awaiting him at Memphis also made the decision to return a bit easier. The Tigers really hit their stride as a group in 2006-2007, despite the loss of its three most highly regarded players from the prior season. The backcourt wasnt as selfish as we have seen from some recent Memphis teams and an aggressive, physical defensive identity (built around Dorsey) began to emerge.
With the core of the team returning - graduated wing Jeremy Hunt is the only projected loss - and elite point guard prospect Derrick Rose en route, Memphis could be on the verge of a national championship run.
Dorsey has some significant work to do over the summer, most importantly in the areas of channeling his aggression level so he can stay on the court, and working on his shooting stroke so he can further take advantage of his physical dominance at the stripe. Nonetheless, he possesses the raw tools that will attract NBA attention very quickly if he can round out the rough edges to his game.
With all the hysteria surrounding Derrick Rose, it should be an interesting season in Memphis. There are several prospects capable of significantly increasing their draft stock if the Tigers make a deep run, and you can bet that if Memphis does make the final four, Dorsey will have been a big part of it. In that case, Dorsey will have improved his draft stock immensely.
Latest Rumors, April 15th
Horford About to Make it Official
Al Horford will forfeit his remaining year of college eligibility by officially signing with Seattle-based NBA player agent Aaron Goodwin, a source with intimate knowledge of the situation told DraftExpress today. Horford is currently pegged as the #4 player on our 2007 mock draft.
This will be a major coup for the 45-year old Goodwin, who was shut out of the first round of last years NBA draft after having represented the #1 overall picks in both the 2003 (LeBron James) and 2004 (Dwight Howard) drafts. Goodwin has since seen James leave for Leon Rose thanks to the alleged behind the scenes work of William Wesley, but will surely secure a quick max extension this summer for Howard from the Orlando Magic for 25% of whatever next years NBA salary cap is.
Goodwins name has been in the news for other reasons this past week. Multiple sources, including our friend Henry Abbott of ESPN.coms Truehoop, have been reporting that Goodwin has been tapped to represent future marketing superstar Kevin Durant as his agent. And while weve been hearing the same exact rumblings even before we exclusively broke the scoop on Durant scheduling a press conference to announce leaving Texas last week, our sources tell us that it may be premature to declare that Goodwin is already Durants agent. Durant has reportedly since been told to hold off on signing with anybody at this point, and is yet to put down his all-important signature on anything binding him to Goodwin or anyone else. With that said, it wouldnt shock if that ended up being the case when its all said and done.
Goodwins current stable of NBA clients (as of the beginning of this season) includes Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Esteban Batista, the aforementioned Dwight Howard, Gary Payton, Leon Powe, Nate Robinson, Damon Stoudamire, Salim Stoudamire and Chris Webber.
Joakim Noah Officially Hires Fathers Agent
Joakim Noah on the other hand officially became a pro today when he signed to be represented by NBA certified agents Donald Dell and Bill Strickland, tells us a source with first-hand knowledge of the situation. Noah is currently pegged as the #6 player on our 2007 mock draft.
The 68-year old Donald Dell is a long-time family friend of the Noah family, having represented his father, super-star tennis player Yannick Noah, as the founder of leading sports agency ProServ. He will represent Joakim in a joint agreement with Bill Strickland, another long-time NBA agent who is making a strong come-back after pursuing other interests over the past few years.
Strickland, age 57, a trailblazer for African-American sports agents (a tradition that the aforementioned Aaron Goodwin, above, has continued), was considered one of the top agents in the NBA in his heyday, representing players such as Pervis Ellison, Mitch Richmond, Allan Houston, Chris Webber, and many others.
Dell, Strickland and David Falk (who is making a strong comeback of his own this year) all worked together at ProServ initially. Falk went onto to found his own agency, FAME, Dell became the Senior Vice President of SFXs Tennis division, and Strickland took the post as president of basketball operations for IMG.
Over the past few years, Strickland has focused more on the NFL (representing players such as Daunte Culpepper) and entertainment industries, but still has a respectable NBA client list with Rasheed Wallace, Brevin Knight and Malik Allen, while still collecting checks for the commission on the final year of Allan Houstons 6-year, 100 million dollar contract.
Strickland and Dell have also brought on NBA certified agent Kim Grillier from Henry Thomas CSMG, and have accordingly signed 2nd round draft prospects Russell Carter, DaShaun Wood and Quinton Hosley. Grillier is largely credited as the driving force behind CSMG landing Chris Bosh back in 2003.
Chandler In, Hiring Agent
DePaul sophomore forward Wilson Chandler will be declaring for the NBA draft in the upcoming days and is not expected to return to school, a source with knowledge of the situation told DraftExpress.
Chandler, a 19-year old 6-8 athletic combo forward, averaged 14.6 points per game and 6.9 rebounds in the Big East playing for a disappointing DePaul squad that finished 20-14 on the season and made the quarterfinals of the NIT. He was named to a second-team All-Big East selection.
Chandler will be hiring renowned Chicago-based trainer Tim Grover to prepare him for the draft. Assuming hes invited, his intention is to attend the NBA pre-draft camp in Orlando in late-May.
According to our sources, it is very unlikely that Chandler will be returning for his junior season. Look for him to sign with an agent in the next few days.
As to where he will be ranked on our 2007 mock draft, DraftExpress will need to take time to study his game tape from the previous season, as he was not considered a likely candidate to enter the draft and therefore was not evaluated as such.
Latest Rumors (April 2nd)
DraftExpress spent the past few days at the Final Four in Atlanta and had the opportunity to pick the brains of dozens of players, coaches, scouts, agents and more to dig up the latest information available.
-Tyler Hansbrough is expected to announce soon that he will be returning to North Carolina for his junior season. A family member of his that was in Atlanta made sure to let people know that he will almost certainly be back.
-According to multiple sources we spoke with today, its not only Arron Afflalo that UCLA will almost certainly be losing, despite his quotes just moments after their loss in the Final Four to Florida, but also the rest of their starting backcourt. Sophomores Darren Collison and Josh Shipp are both expected to put their names in the draft this year, without hiring an agent in order to preserve their college eligibility. Collison is on pace to graduate next year as a junior, but will take a look at where his stock lies in order to gauge whether he should come back and complete his degree.
-Nearly everyone DraftExpress spoke to in Atlanta is hearing that Thaddeus Young will be leaving Georgia Tech for the NBA draft. Scouts, college coaches, and everyone else that has spoken with Youngs uncle (a judge, who will be running the process for his nephew Thaddeus) came away with the impression that the freshman combo forward has already made up his mind to leave Georgia Tech.
-On the other hand, Georgia Techs other highly regarded freshman, point guard Javaris Crittenton, is still 50/50 on his decision apparently.
-On the tabloid front those that decided to spend their Sunday afternoon in Atlanta watching the Hawks lose to the Chicago Bulls had the pleasure of taking in a high-stakes meeting going on courtside. David Falk, better known as Michael Jordans agent, and Lou Tucker, an executive at P. Diddys Bad Boy Records, were reportedly both seen alongside William Wesley, better known as Worldwide Wes, an enigmatic figure widely considered one of the more influential powerbrokers in the grassroots basketball industry, usually associated with figures such as LeBron James and his agent Leon Rose of CAA.
Falk appears to be on the comeback trail after not having represented any draft picks since Elton Brand in 1999. His name has been connected on the recruiting trail with numerous draft prospects this year, such as Al Thornton and juniors Jeff Green and Roy Hibbert, which comes as no surprise considering Falks history representing former Georgetown head coach John Thompson and his huge stable of NBA all-stars (Patrick Ewing, Alonzo Mourning, Dikembe Mutombo, Allen Iverson). Falk will also be representing 25 point per game scorer Gary Neal of Towson, who will be playing at Portsmouth this week.
Many people tend to think that the person sitting next to Falk at the Hawks game, Lou Tucker, will be (or already is) working with Falk much in the way he did in the past with Billy Ceisler. Tucker helped deliver players such as Charlie Villanueva, Ben Gordon, Antoine Wright, Jarvis Hayes, Chris Taft and others in a very short two-year span through his connections with P. Diddys record label, Bad Boy Records. With Ben Gordon on the verge of landing a 45-55 million dollar extension this summer, hes been heavily courted by a number of different agencies, even though he is still signed with Billy Ceisler, according to what Ceisler himself told us.
Whats the connection between Wes, Falk and Gordon? As this article explains--Michael Jordan.
Neither Falk nor Tucker returned messages seeking comment.