Here's my look at the draft prospects for Gonzaga's Austin Daye, Josh Heytvelt, Micah Downs and Jeremy Pargo. The article will run in Wednesday's S-R and the unedited version is below. (Heytvelt and Pargo are pictured in GU's NCAA loss to North Carolina.)
By Jim Meehan
The NBA has already called Austin Daye’s name.
He’s one of 15 or so draft hopefuls that will be in the ‘Green Room’ with a front-row seat for Thursday’s NBA Draft at Madison Square Garden in New York. In a text message Monday, Daye, who bypassed his final two years of eligibility at Gonzaga, said he accepted the NBA’s invitation and will be accompanied by his mom, dad and other family and friends.
Now, Daye is waiting for an NBA team to call his name. The 6-foot-11 forward, projected to go in the bottom half of the first round in most mock drafts, is one of four Bulldogs with draft aspirations.
Forward/center Josh Heytvelt, who is likely to go in the second round, guard Jeremy Pargo and forward Micah Downs have been evaluated by NBA teams for roughly two months. At one workout in
“It wasn’t too weird,”
“At the same time, I’m hoping
Gonzaga has had two players drafted in the same year before, but there’s a chance as many as four could be selected Thursday. Pargo is on a few mock drafts as a mid to late second-rounder.
GU had two players drafted in 2005, 2004, 2002 and 1971. However, in 2005 (Ronny Turiaf and Ian Mahinmi), Mahinmi signed a letter of intent with Gonzaga, but never attended the school. In 2004, (Blake Stepp and Richie Frahm), Frahm, a Zag from 1997-2000, was taken in the expansion draft by
The biggest question mark with Daye is his 192-pound frame. He’s four pounds lighter than
Daye wasn’t able to bench-press 185 pounds at the draft combine in
“Now he’s doing three or four (reps of 185),” Abunassar said. “I’ve seen a big change with his speed because we tightened up his running mechanics and made him much more efficient. People expecting Austin to come out with big biceps … not only is that not going to happen, we don’t want it to happen and take away from what he does well. Primarily we’re focusing on his core and lower body and some upper body strength as well.”
Heytvelt, who will watch the draft at his parents’ home in Clarkston, worked out for 16 teams and had two group workouts, attended by roughly 20-25 teams. He has been training near
When asked by NBA executives, Heytvelt has recounted in detail the circumstances of his arrest and suspension in 2007. Similarly, Heytvelt’s feet/ankles have been thoroughly examined because injuries forced him to miss significant playing time at GU.
“They’re good,” Heytvelt said of the medical reports.
Heytvelt said the pre-draft process has been positive, other than one lethargic workout in
“I think it was the only one I didn’t have a good workout,” he said. “I just wasn’t feeling good that day.”
Most teams are telling him he is capable of playing center or power forward. He believes his shooting range has helped his draft stock. One mock draft had Heytvelt going late in the first round to Minnesota with Daye being selected early in the second round by Detroit.
Heytvelt’s voice was scratchy following his final workout Monday with the Knicks. He said he was a “little tired” from a busy couple of weeks and looking forward to spending the next few days with family.
“I just want to go somewhere and play,” he said.
“There were questions of my abilities in certain areas because in college I was more of a role player, kind of a shooter, defensive player and rebounder,” he said. “I really wasn’t an attack-the-basket or slasher or one-on-one guy, but that doesn’t necessarily mean I don’t have those things. I think I showed I can do those things.”
Downs worked out in
“My heart is set on the NBA, I want to make a career out of playing in the NBA, but if I have to take a detour to the European league that might be what has to happen,” he said. “I’ve been playing basketball ever since I can remember walking. I’m excited (for the draft) and grateful for the opportunity to be in this position.”
Pargo, who didn’t return a phone message, is expected to be in
Pargo averaged 10.2 points and 4.9 assists as a senior. He started every one of Gonzaga’s 101 games the last three seasons. According to nba-draft.com, Pargo’s strengths are his strong body, leaping and post-up ability and leadership qualities. The Web site said Pargo’s weaknesses are inconsistent shooting, shot selection, feel for the game and his defense needs to improve.