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Monday, July 16, 2007

More on Roy

Another great piece on Roy from Yahoo! Sports. This article discusses Hibbert's exceptionalism--staying in school when almost all others would have taken the money and run. In that vein, I'll ask the obvious rhetorical question: How many D1 athletes spend their personal funds to attend political speeches?!

Show him the study hall

Around Roy Hibbert, he was surrounded with college kids who wouldn't have wasted a moment with the debate that consumed him for months. Stay in school, when you could've been a lottery pick? Sure, sure. They would've been nowhere near these USA Basketball Pan-Am Games tryouts, where sweating through two-a-days for nothing but the glory of the red, white and blue would've been a foolery in the face of a first-round NBA draft guarantee. "People look at me dumbfounded, almost perplexed," Georgetown's 7-foot-2 center said. "They ask me, 'What are you doing? Are you dumb? I would've gone and took the money.' " He wasn't talking of his Pan-Am trials teammates, as much as those who have come into contact with him since Hibbert passed on the draft to return for his senior year. For now, he's turned himself into a throwback four-year Georgetown player, honoring the tradition of Patrick Ewing and Alonzo Mourning before him.

Here's the thing to remember, too: Long before he became a good basketball player, Hibbert was a good student. And so, he chose the rarest of prisms with which to see his future: the long lense. "Yeah, it's OK to get drafted to make the quick money, but I'm looking for the long term, for maybe getting a second contract," he said. "I don't want to just play in the NBA. I want to have a career." After coming out of nowhere in his junior season for the Hoyas, working with fifth overall pick Jeff Green to win Georgetown the Big East and a trip to the Final Four, Hibbert would've been selected anywhere from sixth to the late lottery in last month's draft, according to league executives. His return invites a different level of examination for his senior season, when there promises to be much more dissection of his weaknesses, as opposed to his uniqueness as an old-school, back-to-the-basket, shot-blocking center. Yes, he'll get his game picked apart, which he's already combating with a sleeker body borne out of a dedication to diet and workout.

"After the Final Four, I said I wanted to go," he said. "Then I thought about it some more and because it was a big draft with a lot of big guys, I think the next draft will bring me a better opportunity to go higher. But if I don't go higher, I'll just keep working hard. I'm a guy who nobody even knew about coming out of high school. I've always had to prove myself." What's more, Hibbert never needed to run away from school. He loves it. And that's an important reason why he'll be a rare four-year player in the lottery next June. A Government major, he has twice paid to hear presidential candidate Barack Obama speak at Washington, D.C., dinners. If Hibbert didn't have such a busy summer, which will include the Pan-Am Games later this month in Brazil and August camps, he would've assuredly been preparing for his senior year with a Beltway internship.

At the trials, most pro scouts agreed that he was the best pro prospect participating, even if most believed that Indiana's D.J. White has been the best player there. While John Thompson III's souped-up Princeton offense has gone a long way to develop Hibbert's complete game, most scouts at the Pan-Am workouts found it useful to watch him anchored around the basket, where he'll be hunkered in the NBA. "He handles the ball on the perimeter a lot in college, so it's good see him in the post all the time," one NBA scout said. "He needs to get stronger, but he still scores most of the time (when) he gets the ball inside. He definitely rebounds pretty well, and he's got that great jump hook with his right hand and a nice touch. To see him play against a strong guy like (Memphis' Joey) Dorsey and totally overpower him was a pretty good sign." For Hibbert, the tryouts were a reaffirmation of his pro possibilities, but executives and scouts found the weekend camp to be cluttered with promising prospects. After polling several league evaluators in attendance, here's a look at several intriguing prospects who made the Pan-Am trials cut to 14 players on the way to a 12-man roster, and thoughts of NBA personnel about them.

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