Friday, June 29, 2007

D.J. Strawberry Drafted by Phoenix Suns

You had to stay up past midnight on the East Coast to see a Terp get drafted tonight, but finally, D.J. Strawberry (2003-07) was drafted by the Phoenix Suns with the 29th pick of the second round (#59 overall, next to last pick in the draft). D.J. becomes the first Maryland player to be drafted since Steve Blake in 2003. He worked out for Phoenix back on June 8th, and while the team liked his defensive skills, they didn't believe he would still be on the board when their pick at #59 came around.

No news links yet as of 12:05am... this was just reported on ESPN a few minutes ago. Check back later today for more commentary and news, probably from the Arizona Republic.

Morning Update: Two news stories about D.J. getting drafted this morning. First, the Baltimore Sun has an excellent story on Strawberry:
Strawberry's road is likely to begin in the NBA's summer league, where teams send their draft choices, younger players and free agents trying to land a spot on a roster to play in a tournament-like setting.

Being selected last night likely means that Strawberry will be guaranteed a spot on Phoenix's training camp roster, as opposed to having to make a favorable impression during summer league games.

Strawberry, the son of former major league outfielder Darryl Strawberry, will still be seriously challenged to make the Suns' 15-man roster, which includes two-time league Most Valuable Player Steve Nash, forwards Amare Stoudemire and Shawn Marion, and guard Raja Bell, a defensive specialist, whom Strawberry said he hoped to emulate.


In D.J.'s future hometown, he only gets a a few lines at the bottom of an Arizona Republic story about the Suns' draft night:
Kerr said he spent the second round trying to trade up to get the 6-foot-5, 201-pound Strawberry, known for his defense.

Strawberry could make a roster that must carry 13 players but has 11 under contract.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Steve Francis Traded to Portland

The first Terp to make the news on NBA Draft night was... Steve Francis (1998-99). ESPN reports that Francis was traded from the New York Knicks to the Portland Trailblazers:
The Knicks and Trail Blazers reached agreement on a deal that swaps [Zach] Randolph and teammates Dan Dickau and Fred Jones for guard Steve Francis and Channing Frye.

Francis has only two seasons left on his contract, worth just over $34 million, but possesses the option to become a free agent after next season. The Blazers, however, are planning to buy out Francis' contract and make him a free agent this summer, sources said.

NBA Draft Tonight: Strawberry Likely to be Picked

The Draft Express site feels pretty confident that D.J. Strawberry (2003-07) has a good chance to be a second round pick. They have predicted him as the #23 pick in round two, going to the Portland Trailblazers, in their mock draft.
While his individual training was important, Strawberry caught a huge break when he was a last minute addition to the Orlando pre-draft camp roster a couple of weeks ago.

“After I didn’t get an invitation, I just expected not to go,” he said. “I wasn’t really waiting for a call or anything, I made other plans. I continued to work out to get ready for the team workouts. Once I did get a call, though, I was ready to go. I was very excited about getting to attend a camp like that. It just happened to work out my way that I was able to go.”

Strawberry made a good impression after playing well in his teams’ games, playing tough perimeter defense, a trademark of his game. Where he really raised eyebrows though was in the physical skills assessment, where he tested out as the top overall athlete at the camp. When asked about how he thought being the top athlete at Orlando would help his stock though, Strawberry wasn’t exactly sure.


In a Washington Post Live Discussion today, the site's owner/draft expert, Jonathan Givony, said:
I spoke with one of DJ's guys this morning, and he sounded VERY optomistic. Apparently he has a draft party organized and everything. They feel like he's got a great chance to get drafted. Teams that like him include Phoenix, Portland and the Lakers amongst others. He's done well in workouts and a few people I talked to see him being a great guy to have in an NBA lockerroom and practices his first year or two. Being ranked the #1 athlete in the draft has ALWAYS helped historically-- ask David Noel, Troy Bell, Kirk Snyder, Joey Graham, etc...


Here is Draft Express's Maryland NBA prospects page, with links to recent articles mentioning Maryland players.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Travis Garrison Named CBA Rookie of the Year

I'm not sure how I missed this back in March, but Travis Garrison (2002-06) was named CBA Rookie of the Year! The Official Maryland Terps website alerted me to the news this week, summarizing his rookie year achievements:
Former Terrapin Travis Garrison (Suitland, Md./De Matha HS) turned in a strong season with the Continental Basketball Association's Great Falls Explorers and was named the 2007 CBA Rookie of the Year. Garrison averaged 11.9 points, 6.1 rebounds and shot 52 percent from the field. He connected on over 80 percent of his free throws and helped the Explorers post a second-place finish in the CBA's National Conference.

A third-round draft pick (25th overall) by the Atlanta Wolverines in the 2006 CBA Draft, Garrison was ruled a free agent after the Wolverines opted not to compete in 2006-07. He started in 10 of 41 contests this season for the Explorers and ranked fifth in the CBA with 38 blocked shots.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Ekene Ibekwe Pre-Draft Workouts

Ekene Ibekwe (2003-07) has done pre-draft workouts for the Portland Trailblazers and the Chicago Bulls recently. He also played well in the NBA Pre-Draft Camp earlier this month. In Travis Heath's Hoopsworld blog, he says:
Maryland's Ekene Ibekwe showed off his defensive prowess working hard for position, blocking a couple of shots and getting in the passing lanes. On one particular play, the 6-foot-8 forward rotated brilliantly from the weakside to steal the ball and jam one home on the other end. Although often unnoticed by the average fan, this kind of defensive play is something that GM's are quite often looking for from players in a setting such as this one in Orlando.


NBADraft.net says this about Ibekwe's chances after the Pre-Draft Camp in Orlando:
Ibekwe was a beast on the boards at 7 per game, leading the camp. He is obviously an elite level athlete with great length and fluidity. His problem is fitting a position and his lack of strength. Ibekwe had a solid showing. he wasn't selfish and didn't force shots. He has a shot to get drafted based on his great athletic ability, but may run into problems sticking in the league due to his lack of strength/position.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Mike Jones Injures Knee in Pre-Draft Workout

According to the Boston Globe and the Boston Herald, Mike Jones (2003-07) slightly injured his knee during a pre-draft workout in Sacramento last week and had to cancel his workout with the Boston Celtics. From the Boston Herald:
Dorchester native Mike Jones, who played four years at Maryland, had to pull out of yesterday’s workout.

The 6-foot-5 forward suffered what was described as a “slight” knee injury while working out for Sacramento. [Celtics director of basketball operations Danny] Ainge hoped to bring in Jones next week.


Jones hasn't been in the news much this spring since playing in the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament back in April.

Monday, June 18, 2007

D.J. Strawberry Prepares for the NBA Draft

D.J. Strawberry (2003-07) is getting noticed for his tough perimeter defense at the NBA's Pre-Draft Camp:
You won’t see it in a box score, but Maryland’s D.J. Strawberry has quietly turned some heads with his defense. Strawberry had a reputation as being the top perimeter defender in the ACC, and it’s easy to see why. He almost always stays between his man and the basket and has great recovery speed. If he can develop his offensive game, Strawberry could have a chance.


The New York Post thinks Strawberry will be a late second round pick in the NBA draft:
Gangly D.J. Strawberry strutted his stuff the past three days at the Milk House Gym at Walt Disney World in the NBA's pre-draft camp, and the Maryland defensive small forward improved his stock.

The son of Darryl Strawberry, an erratic shooter, finished yesterday's camp with a flourish, scoring 12 points on 5-of-7 shooting, after going 5 of 14 in the first two games. Strawberry, who has been working out at The Aviator in Brooklyn with Marist's Jared Jordan, likely will be a late second-round pick.

"I think I showed I can play defense on the perimeter without putting my hands on guys," Strawberry said.


The Denver Nuggets, who do not have any picks in this year's draft, have invited D.J. to work out for them. If he goes undrafted, the Nuggets could invite him to play on their summer league team or to come to training camp as a free agent this fall.

The Arizona Republic says Strawberry worked out for the Suns last week, but they speculate that he may be gone from the draft board by the time the Suns' second round pick comes around.

Strawberry has also worked out with the Golden State Warriors, Chicago Bulls, and Miami Heat.

Update 6/20: Strawberry will work out for the Washington Wizards on Friday. The Washington Post also projects D.J. as a late second round pick.