NBA draft hopefuls fight for attention
by Erik C. Anderson, USA TODAY Sports
David Stern, for the final time, will announce the top selections of the NBA draft Thursday (7 p.m. ET, ESPN). These players will be lumped into the discussion of who is the next Damian Lillard or Anthony Davis.
But far more NBA hopefuls will wait on the voice of deputy commissioner Adam Silver to deliver their destinies in the second round. These are the fringe players, the outsiders of draft night. For them, the concern is who will be the next Manu Ginobili or Paul Millsap, Round 2 surprises who panned out into viable NBA players.
Utah’s Jason Washburn, a 6-10 center, could be one of those guys — if he gets a chance.
Michael Doleac, who also came out of Utah and won the 2006 NBA championship with the Miami Heat, shared advice with fellow Ute and NBA second round hopeful Washburn.
“He said there’s a lot of players out there that are good enough to be in the NBA,” Washburn said. “He told me keep playing and working hard.”
Washburn was buried in anonymity playing for college teams with little success. Utah went 15-18 in the Pac-12 Conference last year, 6-25 the year before. None of Washburn’s teams returned more than five players, and he never reached the NCAA tournament.
“(Other draft prospects) all won a lot and they all played in postseason tournaments,” Washburn said. “Unfortunately in my Utah career I went through a lot of changes in between seasons. I had 55 total teammates in college. Unfortunately that formula — and two different coaches — does not bring a lot of winning.”
Washburn, a skilled center has been to draft workouts with the Utah Jazz and combines with the Brooklyn Nets and Minnesota Timberwolves. Scouts have told him he scores well on the inside and has good footwork. But his name still isn’t on draft projections.
“I’ve had to rely on the workouts that I have gotten to ripple through the league and have other people catch wind of it,” said Washburn, who averaged 11.9 points and 6.8 rebounds a game as a senior. “A lot of people have talked to me and my … [For more on NBA draft hopefuls fight to gain scouts' attentions, click here.]