Tracy McGrady on the Radar?

May 24, 1997

The Celtics may eventually trade one or both of their first-round picks, but in the meantime, they are making sure they are prepared for the college draft, only a month away.

Coach Rick Pitino and his staff are expected to work out a few players at Brandeis next week, most likely Wednesday. Vice chairman of the board Red Auerbach will travel here from Washington for the workouts.

If the Celtics do keep their picks, one player they will have to watch closely is 6-foot-8-inch forward Tracy McGrady, an 18-year-old who will be making the jump from high school. In the last couple of weeks, his name has been mentioned among the top five prospects.

Two years ago, it was Kevin Garnett. Last year, it was Kobe Bryant and Jermaine O'Neal. This year, it will be 6-foot-8-inch Tracy McGrady. He'll be the fourth high school-to-NBA player in the last three years. What seems obvious now is that drafting these kids is no longer seen as a gamble. In fact, if the Celtics keep their two picks, don't be surprised if Rick Pitino opts for McGrady at No. 6. "There's much less reservation now with kids like that," said Wallace. "You look at the ones before him. One Garnett is in the stratosphere. The other two look like they're going to be OK. And you know what? If you ask the three guys that drafted these players if they'd do it over again, they'd all say, 'yes.' No one can scream at the results of these guys. You look at Garnett. He's a phenom, a once-in-a-decade type guy. Pretty soon, he may be among the top five players in the league. His skills and size are so unique." Wallace and Golden State GM Dave Twardzik agree that McGrady has a big-time upside but also is in need of a lifetime pass to Gold's Gym. "Tracy is a talent, but he's immature physically," Twardzik said. "You're looking down the road with this guy. If you're the Celtics with the type of flexibility they have in the draft, you can afford to take a flyer on a guy like that." Wallace added, "Tracy has to get stronger, but that is the case for almost all 18-year-olds. But he is a big-time athlete. He has the ability to put the ball down and go somewhere with it. He can make a play. He's definitely a lottery pick and could be even top 10. The one thing we don't know is how long it will take for him to reach what we all think is his potential."

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