Thursday, June 26, 2003

Waiting ends for XU's West tonight

NBA future not so clear for Hunter, Little

By Dustin Dow
The Cincinnati Enquirer

NEW YORK - Plenty of uncertainty remains for Cincinnati's three prospects as tonight's NBAdraft approaches.

Agents for David West, Brandon Hunter and Donald Little have only general ideas of where, or if, their clients will be selected in the draft that begins at 7 p.m. at Madison Square Garden.

West's situation is the most clear. The Associated Press' Player of the Year from Xavier is a near lock to go in the first round, which includes 29 picks. West was not one of the 15 players invited to the draft, which means he will probably be selected later in the first round. His agent, Jeff Austin of Octagon, expects West to go between 18 and 24. In the past week, West has worked out with four teams drafting in the middle to the end of the first round including Seattle (14), Atlanta (21) and the Los Angeles Lakers (24). He had a final workout with Utah, which selects 19th, on Tuesday.

By going late in the opening round, West, a 6-foot-9 power forward, would be assured of landing with a winning team, which he says is important. While he's anticipating the customary phone call from the team that picks him, West said he's not spending a lot of time thinking about which team might draft him.

"It's really no big deal," West said from his parents' home in Garner, N.C., where he will watch the draft tonight.

Hunter, who played at Ohio University and Withrow High School, is also a power forward, although significantly shorter than West at 6-foot-7, which his agent, Doug Newstadt, also of Octagon, said could be the biggest difference in Hunter going early or late in the second round.

While Hunter has put together solid workouts, including an impressive showing at the Chicago pre-draft camp earlier in the month, his height may scare away some teams.

"Height is the big issue," Newstadt said. "But you can't knock how he plays."

Hunter used his strength and 266-pound frame at Chicago to overpower taller players. His offensive capabilities may appeal to teams that want to use a second-round pick on a proven collegiate success who could contribute sooner than an underclassman or high school pick.

"A lot of prospects are picked on potential in the first round," Newstadt said. "In the second round, you see a lot of four-year college players. Big, strong guys who can bring effort and provide rebounding."

Several teams, including Boston, New Jersey, Orlando, the Los Angeles Clippers, Golden State, Houston, Chicago, Washington and Atlanta, have seen Hunter in private workouts. Where and if he is selected may depend on which players are left in the draft, but Newstadt said he's sure Hunter will go before the end of the second round. An mock draft has Hunter going 45th overall to the Bulls.

Little's agent, Dan Yost of KMG Sports Management, cannot say the same about the former UC center who was sentenced to 30 days in jail Tuesday for assault.

"All the teams knew what they were getting into when they started talking to Donald," said Yost, who added that Little's NBA future may not hinge on today's draft. ". . . I think he'll still be in camp somewhere (even if he's not drafted)."

Little would likely need his jail sentence to be pushed back in order for him to attend an NBA camp as early as next week. He must report to the Hamilton County Justice Center on Friday. Yost released a letter to personnel managers around the league, updating teams on Little's situation. Orlando, which has seen Little workout and picks No. 42 in the second round, has shown the most interest, Yost said.

Like Hunter, Little played well at Chicago, but most teams are likely to shy away from using a draft choice on him because of his current and past legal problems and his age, 25, which is older than usual for a draft prospect.

Bill Koch contributed to this report.

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