NBA Draft: Hansbrough one of the intriguing players
EAST RUTHERFFORD, N.J. ó In the closing minutes of his eighth and final workout prior to the NBA draft, Tyler Hansbrough stood along the baseline of the New Jersey Nets’ practice court wearing a sweat saturated gray jersey, catching his breath before another shooting drill.
After former Duke rival Gerald Henderson shot his way around the perimeter and back, Hansbrough stepped into the corner and started the same drill, taking passes from a Nets’ assistant.
The first four shots hit nothing but net. The next couple clanged off the rim until Hansbrough reached the opposite corner. He then worked the drill in reverse, surprising most observers with his shooting ability.
The 23-year-old Hansbrough is one of the question marks heading into Thursday’s draft. The player of the year in 2007-08, the power forward capped his career by leading North Carolina to a national championship this past spring, leaving Chapel Hill as the ACC’s all-time leading scorer (2,872 points).
However, there is debate where the 6-foot-9, high-intensity player will be picked. Some think top 10. Others believe he will last until the 20s.
Hansbrough insists that he doesn’t care either when he is taken or by whom.
“I just want to go in and make sure I take care of business after the draft,” he said. “Wherever I go, I’ll be happy and I’ll be ready to get to work and help them out.”
Whoever takes Hansbrough ó it would not surprise if it’s the power-forward desperate Nets at No. 11 ó is going to get a player coming into the league determined to prove himself.
Hansbrough has heard the criticism of his game in recent months. He is not athletic enough. He doesn’t shoot well enough. He’s too old, since he will be 24 at the start of the season.
“People have doubted me my whole career, so whatever,” Hansbrough said. “I enjoy it.
“No one thought I was going to be a good college basketball player and I ended up being the all-time leading scorer in ACC history and the national champs,” he said.
Nets general manager Kiki Vandeweghe was impressed with Hansbrough’s shooting from the 16-to-17 foot range, his athleticism and his competitiveness.
Vandeweghe even quipped that the bloody nose that Henderson sustained in the hour-plus workout probably was caused by Hansbrough, who, of course, denied it. The Nets executive added that what Hansbrough did in college, averaging 20.2 points and 8.6 rebounds, was impressive.
“He was in the running for every honor that there is in college,” Vandeweghe said. “I think sometimes he could be discounted, but playing as hard as he does, that is a skill, and hard to match.”
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