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Wizards take second look at Cam Long and Chris Wright

- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Washington Wizards have conducted the last of their workouts before Thursday's NBA draft, where they will look for the right pieces to continue rebuilding around point guard John Wall.

The team held workouts Monday, and two separate workouts Tuesday. Among the prospects on hand were George Mason guard Cam Long and Georgetown guard Chris Wright, both of whom were on their second visit to Verizon Center.

The Wizards already have started to hone the roster for next year by picking up the third-year option on Wall, Jordan Crawford, Trevor Booker and Kevin Seraphin. They also extended qualifying offers to Nick Young, Hamady Ndiaye, Larry Owens and Othyus Jeffers, all of whom are restricted free agents.

So far, they have not made offers to retain Yi Jinalian and Mustafa Shakur.

"It's an exciting time, anytime you have a draft where you have multiple picks," Wizards general manager Ernie Grunfeld said.

Barring a trade, the Wizards will have the sixth, 18th and 34th overall picks.

"We've brought in a lot of players because our wheelhouse is really long," Grunfeld said. "We've probably had in 60 players or so to workout and evaluate. We're going through a rebuilding process that we started last year."

The Wizards are young and will get even younger after this draft, providing they keep the players they select Thursday and not look to move any of their younger pieces for a veteran presence.

"We had a lot of rookies on the team last year, seven at the end of the season," Grunfeld said. "We're going to be able to add to our core. Our plan is to get a solid core together of players that we can build with and that can stay together for a while."

Most analysts don't consider this year's draft to be very deep. In fact, it's being called one of the weakest in a perhaps a decade. Only Duke guard Kyrie Irving, expected to go No. 1 to the Cleveland Cavaliers, and Arizona forward Derrick Williams, who would then go at No. 2 to the Minnesota Timberwolves, are considered can't-miss prospects.

The rest of the draft class is considered to be full of role players at best.

"We're going to continue our game plan and we're going to continue our rebuilding process, and we think we're making progress," Grunfeld said. "We're looking for team players first and foremost; players who are winning players."

Local products Long and Wright would qualify on that account, as both helped their teams to the NCAA tournament this spring.

"I've tried out for five teams. All of them said I did a great job," Long said. "The teams that didn't see me [in person] all have game tape, so they know what I can do."

George Mason's success has helped bring more attention to mid-major schools, something Long thinks will help him and other players who are not from powerhouse conferences.

"Mid-majors have a lot of talent; we just don't get as much exposure," Long said.

He's certainly familiar with the Wizards, who hold training camp at GMU's campus.

"They are a talented team, and they're young. And I could help with the fan base since I'm local," Long said with a smile.

Georgetown's Wright said he was glad he was on his last workout, because he was a little tired.

"The drills were a little different this time," Wright said.

The guard described himself as a longtime Wizards fan who will continue to root for the team regardless of where he ends up after Thursday's draft.

"They have a good backcourt with John Wall and Jordan Crawford," he said. "They have a lot of potential."

Wright has had 13 workouts, including the Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Lakers, San Antonio Spurs and Boston Celtics.

"With Boston, you have to do three minutes of running. Just running," Wright said. "The Spurs have Spurs 100, where you have to make 100 shots. Every team has their own thing, but at the end of the day, it's just basketball."

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