- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 19, 2003

Georgetown junior Mike Sweetney has until 5 p.m. today to withdraw his name from the NBA Draft, or the Hoyas can say goodbye to their star forward.

Today’s deadline is for underclassmen who have made themselves eligible for the draft but who have not signed with an agent, retaining their college eligibility.

Most mock drafts have the 6-foot-8, 260-pound Sweetney as one of the top 16 players chosen. On Tuesday, Seattle SuperSonics general manager Rick Sund and CEO Wally Walker watched Sweetney in a private workout at McDonough Arena.

The Sonics have the 12th and 14th overall picks in the June26 draft and need a power forward and point guard. Sonics scout Bill Langloh, a former Virginia star, attended virtually every one of Georgetown’s games this past season. No other NBA team, including the Washington Wizards, has more knowledge of Sweetney’s game than the Sonics.

“Our scouts have seen him and they like him,” Sund told the Tacoma News-Tribune. “He’s a player who goes to the free throw line a ton.”

Keeping his Georgetown options open is the reason Sweetney is not traveling to work out for prospective NBA suitors, instead he’s making them come to him. If Sweetney were to travel, he would have to pay for it out of his own pocket to protect his eligibility.

The Sonics started Reggie Evans (3.2 points a game and 6.6 rebounds) at power forward last season and need an interior banger. Sweetney fits the bill. Despite getting double- and triple-teamed nearly every game last season, Sweetney was able to average 22.8 points and 10.4 rebounds, earning unanimous first-team all-Big East honors. Sweetney was the only player in the nation to be ranked in the top 20 in both scoring and rebounding.

Last week Sweetney, who grew up in Oxon Hill, flew to Chicago and completed three days of physical tests consisting of strength and agility drills. A leaked confidential report indicated that Sweetney could bench press 185 pounds only three times and that his agility was near the bottom of the other big men tested.

Georgetown coach Craig Esherick did not return a call seeking comment on Sweetney’s reported poor workout. An explanation for Sweetney’s inability to do more than three reps at 185 could be that he concentrated on finishing his academic course work this spring and hasn’t been in the weight room since Georgetown’s season ended in early April.

Strength, however, isn’t a determining factor for a player to get drafted. Sweetney has great hands, good footwork and a 7-foot-1 wingspan. He knows how to score and works the offensive glass like a man possessed.

Sweetney would not be coming back to much experience at Georgetown.

Point guards Tony Bethel (N.C. State) and Drew Hall (uncommitted) have transferred out of the program. And then there is the inevitable double and triple teams that Sweetney will face because there is no inside help.

“It would be a rebuilding year,” Sweetney told ESPN.com college basketball writer Andy Katz last week. “I don’t know. Players are leaving left and right. If I go back, then, I don’t know what to think.”

Just being invited to Chicago means Sweetney is a potential lottery pick. That doesn’t necessarily mean Sweetney will be one of the top 13 players chosen, but is a good indicator of what NBA teams think of him.

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