After I drafted high school football players in Henry County for the 2008 NFL draft and wrote about it, I received lots of comments all positive about the column. Of course, it was just for fun, and Im sure not everyone agreed with my picks.
Now, thanks to some people in the community that liked the idea and thought I should do it for basketball as well, Im at it again.
While the NBA teams were preparing to make their picks in the 2008 NBA draft last Thursday, I was glued to the television, pen and paper in hand, making my own picks. Surprisingly, I was nervous at times though I didnt show it. My wife Sandra was in the room, and I didnt want her to know what I was doing in fear that she might make fun of me for the rest of the night. When she had enough of the real draft and went to bed during the middle of the first round, I really went to work with my pre-draft scouting reports spread across the couch.
The NBA teams think they had a lot of pressure Thursday heck, I put a lot of pressure on myself to make the right decisions. Sometimes I wanted to change my pick, but once the five-minute clock had run down to zero, it was time to switch gears and start thinking about my next choice. Between taking out the garbage, changing diapers and trying to hide my scouting reports from Sandra, five minutes just wasnt long enough.
Just a reminder: this is definitely not an order of the best 30 high school basketball players in Henry County, but its based on NBA team needs, potential and my gut-feeling at the time. Also, with only two high schools and 30 spots in the first round, I decided to use both boys and girls with a gender-graded scale. Of course these players will not be in the NBA next season, but its still fun to think about. Enjoy.
1. Chicago Bulls Cody Hinkle
With the first pick of the 2008 NBA Locals draft, the Chicago Bulls selected Cody Hinkle (HCHS, center) of Henry County High School. With a roster full of young guards, Hinkle would be a big contributor down low to one of the more storied franchises in NBA history. During his junior season, Hinkle averaged a double-double as a scoring threat and strong rebounder. Hes very effective in the post.
2. Miami Heat Kelsey Mings
After Shaquille ONeal was traded to the Phoenix Suns, and Dewayne Wade suffered though a season full of injuries, the Heat are trying to put the pieces back together for another playoff run. As one of the few true point guards in this draft, Kelsey Mings (HCHS, guard) would be a good fit for the Heat. She can put the ball on the floor and score, drive to the basket, she sees the court very well, is a great pull-up shooter, and should take some pressure off the injury-prone Wade. Plus, Mings was only a sophomore this past season and will only improve.
3. Minnesota Timberwolves Jessica Booher
Jessica Booher (HCHS, forward) was possibly the most surprising player as a freshman last season, draining three-point baskets and becoming a scoring threat. She can step out on the floor or go inside. Shes a deadly shooter from the wing and corner, and has NBA range. Her potential is as high as any in this draft.
4. Seattle Supersonics Rachel Raisor
Rachel Raisor (EHS, guard) may be short in stature, and is coming off just her freshman year, but she plays like a giant on the court. Like Mings, shes a true point guard that sees the court well. She can dribble, pass, drive to the basket, shoot threes, and plays solid on both ends of the floor. The Supersonics can use her aggressive nature.
5. Memphis Grizzlies Conner Jeffries
As a left-handed sharp shooter, Conner Jeffries (HCHS, guard) has very high potential. Hes athletic, runs the floor well, a great leaper, great pull-up shooter and can mix it up inside and outside. He can run the point, play on the wing or go inside, which provides multiple threats for the Grizzlies.
6. New York Knicks Ed Berry
The Knicks are looking for someone that brings different dimensions to the table, and they would get that in Ed Berry (EHS, guard). Berry is a team leader, is quick, a good leaper, has a solid midrange jumper and is very athletic. The lefty can play multiple positions, including the point, on the wing or down low.
7. Los Angeles Clippers Joey Pollard
If not for a few injuries, Joey Pollard (HCHS, guard) would possibly be the top prospect in the draft. When healthy, he has the quickest first step, can leap well and runs up and down the court as well as anyone. His deadly shooting, leadership and shooting range makes him a good pick for the Clippers.
8. Milwaukee Bucks Brittany Brown
Brittany Brown (HCHS, forward) is one of the better post players available, and provides a double-threat as a wing player as well. Shes aggressive, goes to the floor and bangs around down low as a great rebounder, scorer and defensive player.
9. Charlotte Bobcats Ben Roberts
Ben Roberts (HCHS, guard) is the best pure shooter in the draft. He can pull up for shot, is a great spot-up shooter and has shown he has NBA range. Also, he brings leadership to the table, and has a very high basketball IQ.
10. New Jersey Nets Candace Wells
As a sophomore, Candace Wells (EHS, forward) showed what she is capable of. With her inside game, aggressive play and scoring abilities, shes perfect for the Nets. She can rebound, run down the floor and lay the ball in the basket all in the same play. And on the defensive side, shes not afraid to take a charge.
11. Indiana Pacers Nelson Hedges
As an explosive leaper and multi-skilled player, Nelson Hedges (EHS, forward) will be a good pick for the Pacers. He can play inside or outside, is aggressive on the boards, and plays above the rim as a proven shot blocker.
12. Sacramento Kings Allison Vaughn
The Kings 12th pick in the draft could turn into a steal as Allison Vaughn (HCHS, guard) has the most potential of all the draftees. As an eighth grader, she dominated at the middle school level and was eventually moved up to the high school team. Only time will tell her true potential.
13. Portland Trail Blazers Cari Dunaway
Cari Dunaway (HCHS, forward) was a key centerpiece to the Wildcats this past season as a senior, and should do the same for the Trail Blazers. Hes a great team leader, is strong, a great defender, has a solid midrange jumper and can score when needed.
14. Golden State Warriors Dre Banta
Dre Banta (EHS, guard) progressed well towards the end of last season at Eminence, and as a youngster showed his potential, especially behind the three-point arc. Hes a great spot-up shooter, has NBA range and should get tons of open looks playing alongside the Warriors Baron Davis.
15. Phoenix Suns Pete Baldwin
Pete Baldwin (HCHS, guard) added a lot to Henry Countys basketball team last winter, and the Suns are hoping he will do the same for them. Hes got explosive speed and jumping ability, sees the court well, has a quick first step and can really execute when driving to the basket.
16. Philadelphia 76ers Steven Tillett
After sitting out a year, Steven Tillett (HCHS, forward) came out on fire last season as a junior. The sharp shooter could really shoot the ball from three-point land. With the 76ers running up and down the court, Tillett should get a lot of open looks.
17. Toronto Raptors Brad Taylor
Brad Taylor (HCHS, forward) had to miss a long stretch of the season last winter due to an illness, but he was still a key player for the Wildcats when he was healthy. Hes versatile, can play anywhere on the court, runs the floor well, is a team leader and one of the better defensive players in the draft.
18. Washington Wizards Jenny Kozora
Jenny Kozora (HCHS, forward) can play inside or outside, is a smart player, sees the court well, and provides an inside and outside threat. She would be a solid addition to the Wizards.
19. Cleveland Cavaliers Jean-Anne Moore
Jean-Anne Moore (HCHS, center) is one of the only true centers in the draft, and should provide a big lift to the Cavaliers down low. Shes a great post player, can rebound and score when needed.
20. Charlotte Bobcats Samantha Congleton
As a freshman, Samantha Congleton (EHS, center) showed her potential. Late in the season, she turned into a force in the paint as an aggressive rebounder and defender.
21. New Jersey Nets Kaelin Wright
Like Congleton, Kaelin Wright (EHS, forward) has a lot of upside as a freshman last season. She is solid in the post, can step outside, is a good rebounder and can score when needed.
22. Orlando Magic Justin Webb
One of the surprises this past season, freshman Justin Webb (EHS, forward) gave the Warriors a big lift late in the season. He can mix it up inside or play the high post, can score, has athletic ability and high potential.
23. Utah Jazz Kelley Everidge
Kelley Everidge (HCHS, forward) has great hands, can play inside or outside, is a very good passer and a smart player. She will be a big asset to the Jazz as a multi-threat player.
24. Seattle Supersonics Tyler Sadler
The Supersonics are looking for another aggressive player that can run the court and isnt afraid to go to the ground, and they would get that in Tyler Sadler (HCHS, guard). Shes a very good defender, fast and has high potential as a freshman last season.
25. Houston Rockets Matt Long
Matt Long (HCHS, guard) brings a solid midrange jumper, quick feet and an aggressive style to the Rockets. He can drive to the basket, dish the ball or knock down jumpers.
26. San Antonio Spurs Shaun Hamlim
Shaun Hamlin (EHS, guard) is a point guard that brings quickness and an eye for the court to the Spurs. As a junior, he transformed into a key player last winter during his first year at Eminence. He could do the same for the Spurs.
27. New Orleans Kelli Hawkins
Kelli Hawkins (EHS, guard) has the experience New Orleans is always looking for. She can shoot the midrange jumper and is a team leader. As a senior last winter, she was also very aggressive on the court, playing into the style of New Orleans.
28. Memphis Grizzlies Taylor Clark
As a freshman, Taylor Clark (HCHS, forward) moved into more of a key role as the season progressed last winter. She can play inside or step out and shoot from three-point land. Her potential is very high.
29. Detroit Pistons Trevor Davis
Trevor Davis (EHS, forward) reminds me of Ben Wallace, who helped lead the Pistons to the NBA championship in 2004. Hes athletic, runs the floor well, plays solid defense and is an aggressive rebounder.
30. Boston Celtics Chelsea Mathis
Chelsea Mathis (EHS, forward) is one of Eminences many young players that has untapped potential. Shes a versatile player, as a solid shooter and solid defender. She can add to an already established Boston team, which won the NBA finals last month.
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