Kevin Garnett's Rookie Season
June 20, 1995
The rumblings began last fall, about the same time that Antonio McDyess started his sophomore season at Alabama. The rumblings have continued. Only the numbers have changed.
Eight months ago, McDyess, a 6-foot-9, 220-pound power forward, was starting a college season while keeping tabs on when he might be drafted if he decided to leave school early for the NBA.
"First, I heard top 15," McDyess said. "Then I heard top eight."
In early May, McDyess told NBA officials he would make himself eligible for the June 28 draft. Now, with the draft only eight days away, McDyess is among the fastest-rising prospects.
"He could go No. 1," Timberwolves general manager Flip Saunders said, "or he could go two, three or four."
McDyess, however, probably won't go as low as fifth, the pick the Wolves own. Still, he was at Target Center on Monday, working out with Oklahoma State center Bryant Reeves in the presence of Kevin McHale, the Wolves vice president of basketball operations, Saunders and the rest of the staff.
McHale and Co. considered UCLA's Ed O'Bannon and North Carolina's Rasheed Wallace last week and continue to do research on Chicago high school star Kevin Garnett as they contemplate what to do with the fifth pick.
The Wolves worked McDyess for two reasons. First: They are dreaming that he somehow might slip to the fifth spot. Second: "You want to look at him and see how motivated you might be to move up in the draft," Saunders said.
Of course, all the answers don't arrive with a couple of summer workouts. But the Wolves got to see what makes McDyess so intriguing:
He's 20 and already has a classic NBA power forward's body. Philadelphia coach John Lucas compares him to Orlando's Horace Grant, but adds that McDyess - who averaged 30.5 points and 18 rebounds in NCAA tournament games against Pennsylvania and Reeves' Oklahoma State team - is more gifted offensively than Grant was at the same age.
"He's a great athlete," Saunders said. "He has the potential to be a star."
The Wolves asked Reeves - a college basketball folk hero also known as Big Country - to town mostly for use as a barometer against other players they are considering, and just in case they move down in the draft or acquire another first-round pick. Reeves comes from Gans, Okla., population 218. McDyess comes from a town in the Mississippi Delta called Quitman, Miss.
"I'm from a small town, real small," McDyess said, "about 2,700 people. But it's not the same kind of small as Big Country's. He had, like, 15 people in his graduating class. I had 100 or something."
McDyess and Reeves are the latest in a parade of nearly a dozen players who have come to Minneapolis for workouts, interviews and psychological tests.
The one player who probably won't come to town is Garnett, a 6-11 small forward with guard skills. Garnett wowed scouts two weeks ago during a private workout in Chicago, forcing the Wolves and the Washington Bullets, who own the fourth pick, to re-examine their draft lists.
Garnett - who hasn't qualified academically for college - isn't expected to tour NBA cities because he doesn't want to forfeit his college eligibility. Instead, teams are going to him for a look. The Wolves probably will visit Garnett before the draft and are investigating what Saunders calls "safety nets" in case they pick him.
Those safety nets are ideas, such as placing Garnett with a local family during his rookie season, which might help him make the transition from high school to the NBA. Saunders said Garnett's lack of college experience wouldn't prevent the Wolves from taking him.
"Hey, he's 19; Joe Smith's 19," Saunders said. "McDyess is 20. I don't think anyone is scared [of Garnett] because he hasn't been to college. He's got talents you just don't see in a guy 19 years old."