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More Ainge Watch
- Jackie M. unsure of Banks: "Banks may or may not have a long-term future here."
- Sonny Vaccaro says as many as 15 high-schoolers are considering going Pro.
- Sam Smith tells us Ainge has been in Chicago for the past couple of days
scouting the HS Prospects gathering there for the EA Roundball Classic.
Sam takes a quasi-negative view of Ainge favorite Dorell Wright:
"The kid supposedly going to DePaul, Dorell Wright, has one of those lean, super athletic builds with the shot selection of Ron Artest. You know, if the ball's in his hand it's a good shot." No wonder why Ainge supposedly loves Wright: An athletic gunner!
Hmmm, grabbing him with the 25th pick doesn't seem like a big risk in my book.
And Sam basically trashes the rest of the prospects, except for Dwight Howard.
Lenny Megliola has an interesting column. Great talent evaluator Leo Papile
(who brought us Kedrick Brown and Jerome Moiso) loves Marcus Banks:
Megliola: Celtics' Papile has pulse of prospects
By Lenny Megliola
Wednesday, March 24, 2004
Leo Papile was walking off some nervous energy on the streets of Chicago early yesterday afternoon, waiting to meet up with Danny Ainge and Chris Wallace for lunch. The threesome had just conducted business.
They watched basketball, kids playing, some of them nothing more than dreamers, others who would become instant teenage millionaires the night of the NBA draft. Which ones were which, that's what the Celtics contingent was trying to figure out after watching the last practice before tonight's Sonny Vaccaro high school all-star game.
Once, and not that long ago, this game wouldn't have attracted everybody from Pat Riley to Larry Bird, like the last two days did. Vaccaro's game is 40 years old. It used to be just a high school all-star game. That was before kids started jumping over their dreams and going from fourth-period study right to the NBA. You had to watch these kids now. They could hold your future, your job, in their precocious hands. Fans may not know the names now. They will some day. Shaun Livingston. Sebastian Telfair. Robert Swift. Dwight Howard. Josh Smith. All looking to be the next Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett, Jermaine O'Neal and of course LeBron James. They didn't go to college either.
Sizing up the kids in Chicago, Papile, the Celtics' director of player personnel, says rumor has it that eight to 12 American high school kids might go in the first round.
Sounds preposterous? "That's what they're saying," Papile emphasizes. "From what I've seen it could be accurate." An NBA rule prohibits teams to talk to the media about the players individually.
Kids skipping high school for the NBA offends some people. Papile's not one of them. "I've said for years it's never been an issue in tennis, golf, hockey or baseball. The (basketball) guys have ability. I don't see what the problem is."
By May 20, the high schoolers have to submit their name to be draft-eligible. Papile's philosophy?
"You expect none of them (to come out) and prepare for all."
The Celtics and other teams have been keeping tabs on these Clearasil kids for awhile.
"In terms of evaluation, there are no surprises," says Papile.
The Chicago evaluation has been done. The NBA people have taken notes at practice the past two days. Most of them won't even stick around for tonight's game. Papile's one of them.
"The game will deteriorate to a free-for-all, a load of crap," says Papile.
Hey kid, we know you can dunk.
The star search is global now. In January, Papile watched an all-star game in China.
"Basketball is on the move over there," he says. "They're behind the Europeans but that's going to change. I saw two or three players who'll be in the NBA in a couple of years."
Yao Ming's been an inspiration. "They have a billion-and-a-half people, and they're not all 5-6 guys," Papile points out.
Regarding the Celtics, Papile would rather see them make the playoffs, even though it would cost them a higher draft pick.
"I'm very close to (interim coach) John Carroll," says Papile. "My idea is to win even if it means we pick a little lower in the draft."
With three No. 1 picks and the Celtics owners talking about spending for a mid-level exception, Papile believes the playoff experience (no one's talking championship driven anymore) is the right way to go.
As for Ainge's plan, his vision, Papile says, "The plan can only be tested when you have all hands on deck."
With all the changes made by Ainge -- after all, the owners wanted change -- from the Antoine Walker blockbuster to the Cleveland deal to the Vin Baker mess, continuity was impossible. So much so Jim O'Brien left it all behind and quit.
Who knows how many Celtics will be back next season, although Papile says "There's a nucleus and we have a low payroll with six or seven guys."
Including Mark Blount, who's been playing out of his mind the last month or so. If the All-Star Game was in March, Blount would be in it, says Papile. Blount is playing for nearly NBA minimal salary. "He's going to get paid (next year)," says Papile. "Hopefully we'll be the ones paying him."
Papile scouted rookie guard Marcus Banks last year.
His assessment: "He's the best point guard we've had in my eight years here. I like the fact that he's been paired with Chucky Atkins. He can be a terrific mentor for Marcus. He's like a lot of rookies. He'll do something that'll make you breathless, then he'll throw the ball in the bleachers. I give him a C-plus or a B-minus. I think he'll be in the league 10 years."