"My rule was I wouldn't recruit a kid if he had grass in front of his house.
That's not my world. My world was a cracked sidewalk." —Al McGuire

Thursday, June 14, 2012

DJO one of only four to vertical 41"; the other 3 now play for the Bengals, Texans and NY Giants

When Murray State Coach Steve Prohm took the court in Louisville and looked across the court at Marquette warming up, the first words out of his mouth were reportedly, “Aren’t those guys missing spring practice somewhere?”

In 14 days, Darius Johnson-Odom and Jae Crowder hope to hear their names called at the NBA Draft despite reservations about their height, and my guess is one of the thank yous will go to Marquette Head Strength and Conditioning Coach Todd Smith.

Jae Crowder was not only the strongest guy at the NBA combine with 20 reps of 185-pounds on the bench, but that total was just less than the average of all NFL combine players (21).

Darius Johnson-Odom was one of only four prospects with a vertical of at least 41 inches this year – the other three have already signed with the Cincinnati Bengals, Houston Texans and New York Giants.  Of the 300 prospects to participate in either the NFL or NBA combine, here are the only seven to top 40 inches.

PlayerTop verticalsWill play for …
Kashif Moore43.5Cincinnati Bengals
Darius Johnson-Odom41.5Portland Trail Blazers?
Jerrell Jackson41Houston Texas
David Wilson41New York Giants
Chris Owusu40.5San Francisco 49ers
Marquis Teague40.5 
Miles Plumlee40.5

Portland Trail Blazers invite DJO to join lottery picks

How high could DJOs stock be rising after such an impressive display?  He already went from not even being invited to Portsmouth to being invited to the combine itself, and has been the fastest rising player even in www.nbadraft.net, which has left Crowder and DJO out of the draft until recently adding the latter.

We are now in the phase of the final weeks where GMs and Scouts don’t want any other team to know who is rising through their ranks.  We now know that more than one team was hoping that Dwyane Wade and Jimmy Butler would stop looking so good so that they wouldn’t be gone by their choice.  We have no way of knowing whether that is happening to DJO, Crowder or neither this year.

However, one very encouraging sign for DJO was a surprise invite from Wesley Matthews Portland Trail Blazers.  Portland has the wonderful fortune of having 6th, 11th, 40th and 41st picks in what is a very deep draft.  They chose to invite two groups of 6 players each to a team tryout to look at players for these spots.   One group was reportedly of potential lottery picks, while the other was reportedly of long-shots that seemed more likely heading for camp as undrafted players, but who they apparently saw something about that intrigued them.  The interesting thing is that when word leaked out about the two groups, DJO was in the group with potential lottery picks, while Kevin Murphy of Tennessee Tech, expected to go higher than DJO, was in the B-group.

It would seem a stretch to believe that DJO is being considered for the 11th pick, BUT with the potential of teams trading up, you can’t help but looking at the two groups and where www.draftexpress.com ranks each player, and conclude it is almost as hard to believe that the teams still have DJO as low as the public draft boards do.

Trail Blazers Group BTrail Blazers Group A
Kevin Murphy, Tenn Tech 40thJared Sullinger, OSU 7th
John Shurna, NW 73rdPerry Jones, Bay 8th
Mitchell Watt, Buffalo 74thTerrence Jones, Kentucky 9th
Quincy Acy, Baylor 80thJohn Henson, UNC 11th
Reggie Hamilton, Oak 95thMarquis Teague, Kent 22nd
Bradford Burgess, VCU NRDarius Johnson-Odom, MU 47th

Could Marquette possibly have a third straight year with a stunning first round pick?  Not that Wesley Matthews was crying over not getting picked when he cashed $9 million in checks his second year out of Marquette, but it’s quite possible the strong combine performances of Crowder and DJO could have some teams considering them earlier.

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