NORMAN — When Willie Warren, Tiny Gallon and Tommy Mason-Griffin decided to enter this year’s NBA Draft, reactions varied. Some saw potential in the trio of Oklahoma underclassmen. Others were in disbelief that players who led the Sooners to a 13-18 season could think they were ready to be professionals.
The answers will come when the NBA Draft is held tonight in New York.
OU coach Jeff Capel said NBA officials had been telling him both Warren and Gallon were likely late first-round to early second-round picks.
“These two guys will get drafted,” Capel said.
ESPN.com draft analyst Chad Ford lists Gallon and Warren as early second-round picks in his mock draft released Tuesday. He has Gallon going to the New Jersey Nets with the 31st overall pick. Ford believes Warren would be a “steal” for the Los Angeles Lakers at No. 43.
ESPN college basketball analyst Fran Fraschilla has a hard time believing that is the case. He believes both made major mistakes leaving OU after last season.
Warren entered last season as a projected lottery pick, but a lackluster season and an ankle injury lowered his stock. Questions about his attitude also dogged the guard.
“He’s probably the most disappointing guy in this draft because of where I thought his potential was,” Fraschllia said of Warren. “Not only did the attitude issues surface, but he also had some inherent weaknesses in his game. He cannot go left. He proved to be a very streaky shooter, understanding that he took a lot of tough shots for his team. Then he got injured at the end of the year. “
By all accounts Warren had an impressive showing in the NBA’s pre-draft camp in Chicago last month, but he’s been slowed by a back injury as of late.
Fraschilla’s assessment of Gallon was more blunt. When asked if he saw the 6-foot-9, 290-pound forward as potential pro, he didn’t think that was the case.
“I don’t, personally. I know there are some teams that are intrigued by him. I don’t know if he made a mistake or not in going, but I was very disappointed in his game overall,” the analyst said. “His work ethic is below-average. He has no desire to be a low-post player. Weight’s going to be an issue with him. And I don’t think he really understands how to become the kind of player he could be, with the kind of athleticism he has.”
But it all goes back to a point college coaches have been making for several years. NBA general managers hunt the college ranks for potential as much as production.
It is the reason Gallon’s stock has risen since turning pro. In his only year at OU, Gallon only averaged 10.3 points and 7.9 rebounds.
“He’s skilled. He can score. He can pass the basketball. He has a chance to be a really good rebounder. He has great hands,” Capel said. “It’s a matter of, ‘Can he put it all together? Will he get in great shape? Can he put all those things together?’
“If he can, the final package could be something that’s really good.”
Despite the negatives, Warren and Gallon will both be drafted tonight. Capel said he’s also heard Mason-Griffin has a shot at being taken.
The 5-foot-9 point guard shocked most observers when he decided to leave OU after his freshman season. The process didn’t start out well for Mason-Griffin. He wasn’t invited to the pre-draft camp due to lack of interest by NBA teams.
However, he has had individual workouts with teams over the last four weeks.
Even if he isn’t selected, Capel believes the interest in Mason-Griffin has grown enough that he will get invited to a team’s preseason camp and have a shot at making a roster.
John Shinn 366-3536 firstname.lastname@example.org