ASU’s Pendergraph ready for NBA draft - East Valley Tribune: News

ASU’s Pendergraph ready for NBA draft

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Posted: Thursday, June 18, 2009 11:50 am | Updated: 12:43 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

Jeff Pendergraph was in Portland Tuesday, Los Angeles Monday and Utah on Sunday. ... At least Pendergraph is sure where he'll be on Thursday: In California with family and friends, waiting to see which team selects him in the NBA draft.

Jeff Pendergraph was in Portland Tuesday, Los Angeles Monday and Utah on Sunday.

Or was that Charlotte on Wednesday, Detroit on Thursday and Milwaukee on Friday?

And he's sure he stopped in Minnesota sometime.

"It's not too bad," Pendergraph said. "At least the hotel beds are comfortable."

At least Pendergraph is sure where he'll be on Thursday: In California with family and friends, waiting to see which team selects him in the NBA draft.

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It has been a dizzying few weeks for Pendergraph and former Arizona State teammate James Harden. There have been pre-draft camps, workouts, interviews, crowded flights and sore hamstrings.

But at least Harden can take comfort in the fact he's expected to be a top-five pick. Pendergraph? He still has no idea when he might be taken. Or which team will choose him.

NBAdraft.net, for example, has Pendergraph going in the second round, No. 38 overall, to the Portland Trail Blazers. Mynbadraft.com has him being selected 45th by the Minnesota Timberwolves. Another possibility is Denver at No. 34. Nuggets vice president of basketball operations Mark Warkentien scouted Pendergraph extensively in college and likes his game.

Pendergraph, however, believes he'll be a mid-to-late first-round selection.

"But if it's the second round, it's not as bad as some people make it look," Pendergraph said.

The NBA's scouting report on Pendergraph succinctly describes the player we saw for four years at ASU.

Positives: Active ... quick leaper ... terrific athlete ... relentless rebounder ... good kid.

Negatives: Limited offensive repertoire ... undisciplined defensively ... gets in foul trouble.

The general consensus is that the 6-foot-10, 240-pound Pendergraph never will be a star in the NBA, but he'll be an effective bench player, a backup power forward who will play defense, hustle and score a few points.

Think Anderson Varejao without the hair or Chris "Birdman" Andersen without the tattoos.

"He'll help a team," said an NBA scout who requested anonymity. "And teams like him because he's a high-character guy. He'll never embarrass an organization."

Pendergraph's NBA career effectively began a week after ASU's season ended with its NCAA tournament loss to Syracuse. He hit the weights and began working out twice a day. Then it was on to the pre-draft camp in Chicago and, for the last several weeks, workouts with 12 teams.

For the most part, the auditions have been routine. A lot of running, some half-court basketball, a few words with the coach or general manager, then a flight to the next stop. But there have been exceptions.

In Charlotte, coach Larry Brown ran the workout as if he were choreographing a Broadway dance routine.

"He kept stopping the workout to teach you something," Pendergraph said.

In Portland, Pendergraph had an extended chat with coach Nate McMillan, whose son, Jamelle, is a junior point guard at ASU. Pendergraph said McMillan told him he thought he could have been utilized more offensively but that he was impressed Pendergraph never let the lack of touches affect the rest of his game.

Mostly, Pendergraph has been trying to convince coaches there's more to his offensive skill-set than what they saw in college. Pendergraph played in the post at ASU, and when he did venture outside, he'd often have his back to the basket, either to set a screen or receive a pass.

"I can shoot the ball and handle it," Pendergraph said. "I think I've surprised a lot of people. They're like, 'Dang, we didn't know you could do all that.'"

Like most rookies, Pendergraph doesn't really care which team he winds up with. He just wants to get on with the next phase of his career.

But in a perfect world, yeah, he has a preference. He'd love to be in Portland, on the West Coast, playing on and up-and-coming team and for a coach in McMillan he already knows well.

"I told him I want to be there," Pendergraph said.

Don't be surprised if he gets his wish.

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