- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 17, 2002

BOSTON There was never much doubt Jared Jeffries would be a lottery pick in last month's NBA Draft. But the draft is, if anything, an inexact science, at best.
No one knows where Jeffries, selected No.11 by Washington, will be in a few years. The Wizards have heaped accolades on Jeffries, but that is normal when talking about a top draft pick.
The perspective of others, outside the Wizards family, sometimes can be more revealing.
Before the draft, the knock on Jeffries was that he was soft. But according to a scout with an Eastern Conference team that had the 6-foot-11 Jeffries in for a workout before the draft and picked after the Wizards that isn't the case.
"I don't know where all of that came from," said the scout, who wished to remain anonymous. "Honestly, I don't. I think a lot of fans who saw him for the first time in the NCAA championship might think that way because he fouled out with just eight points."
The scout pointed out that Jeffries' poor showing in the biggest game of his life came shortly after he scored 24 points and grabbed 15 rebounds to help Indiana rally from 17 points down to defeat defending champion Duke 74-73 in the South Region.
"If you want to look at it on a game-by-game basis, you have to look at what he did in that game. There were a few drafted players in that game, right? Jay Williams, [Mike] Dunleavy. Jared was the best player on the floor for that game."
When he was drafted by the Wizards, Jeffries was listed at 6-10 and 215 pounds. Now, according to the Wizards, he goes an inch taller and 15 pounds heavier.
But questions remain whether the Wizards would have taken Connecticut's Caron Butler had he been available when the Wizards picked.
Butler starred at Connecticut and was viewed by some as the player most ready for the NBA in the June draft. The Miami Heat, selecting 10th, snatched up Butler leaving Jeffries to the Wizards.
The scout said the Heat made the right choice with Butler and added his team would have made the same selection. "We were shocked that Butler slipped the way he did," he said. "I know there were some rumors about his knees, but, wow, what a player. I think Jeffries is going to be good. But I think if Washington had the chance to pick between the two, I think they would take Butler."
Before the draft Jeffries was viewed as a power forward, perhaps even a guy who could grow into a center that saw spot duty. Jeffries said he was not able to demonstrate his open-court skills in college.
Since the Wizards' minicamp began last week at MCI Center, Jeffries has surprised the coaching staff with his ability to take the ball off the boards, put it on the floor and lead the break.
When asked which player he models his game after, Jeffries mentions Minnesota forward Kevin Garnett.
That might be a bit of a reach, but if one thing is clear it's that Jeffries is much more than a big guy who camps out in the post and hollers for the ball. In last night's loss to the Boston Celtics in Shaw's Pro Summer League, Jeffries often brought the ball upcourt against the pressure defense. He also showed he could hit a deep baseline jumper and penetrate to the basket.
"When he worked out with us he showed his versatility," the scout said. "When he played in college you could kind of tell that he had that skill. If he got the ball far away from the basket he knew what to do with it. It wasn't a gamble."
Note The Wizards' record dropped to 0-2 last night as the Celtics led from start to finish on the way to a 75-67 victory.
Boston was led by Kedrick Brown's 24 points, and Joe Forte, a native of the Washington area, added 17 points. Juan Dixon led the Wizards with 19 points.

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