Thursday, June 10, 2004

Daniels making pitch for NBA pick

But ex-Wildcat starts slowly at predraft camp

By Dustin Dow
The Cincinnati Enquirer

CHICAGO - Erik Daniels quite possibly is down to his last three days to show NBA scouts he's worthy of a second-round draft selection.

The former Kentucky player and Princeton High School standout is trying to prove himself here at the predraft camp at the Moody Bible Institute, where draft hopefuls play three games in three days under the watchful eye of the league's scouts, general managers and coaches.

Daniels must demonstrate that at 6-feet-8, he's more than an undersized center, the position he played last season at Kentucky.

"He's got to show that he can shoot it," an Eastern Conference scout said. "And he has to play a different position."

In other words, Daniels has to be more assertive offensively than he was Wednesday, when he scored three points on 1-of-3 shooting on the first day.

"It's difficult not to force things," Daniels said. "You don't want to go out there and look bad, so you just try to take it easy, just relax and just play. I don't think I got into it too much. I got my teammates involved, but I should have shot a little more."

After a day of drills Tuesday, Daniels on Wednesday made the starting lineup on a team that included forwards Jackson Vroman of Iowa State and Jaime Lloreda of Louisiana State.

Daniels played 15 minutes of the 40-minute game, taking all three of his shots in the first five minutes. The one shot he made was a 3-pointer, which teams want to see him shoot after he spent last season at center for the Wildcats.

Daniels averaged 14.5 points a game for Kentucky during his senior season but shot just 7-of-23 on 3-pointers. He realizes that some scouts have given him the "tweener" label, which describes players who compete down low in college but aren't versatile enough to move outside in the pros.

"I really haven't changed the way I play at all," Daniels said. "I had to play inside last year because my team needed me to, but I'd always been on the perimeter until last year."

Daniels earned his way to the Chicago predraft camp after putting up impressive numbers at the Portsmouth Invitational last month. As one of the more dominant players at Portsmouth, Daniels drew attention at one point by recording 19 points, 10 rebounds and four assists in just 13 minutes.

Daniels pulled down three rebounds Wednesday.

"I think I showed scouts a thing or two today, showed my versatility," Daniels said. "But I have to show them my perimeter skills. That's where I'm going to be playing at, and I think I've gotten a lot better since the season's been over."

If he isn't selected in the second round of the June 24 NBA draft, as several scouts as well as his agent, Tom Roscoe, predict he could be, Daniels will find somewhere else to play basketball.

So far, only the Sacramento Kings have seen Daniels work out individually, and there are no definite plans for more workouts between now and draft day.

"I could go overseas or stay here and play in the CBA," Daniels said. "My agent is telling me second round, but I'm hoping to move up."


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