- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 26, 2002

Casey Jacobsen is expected to surface in the Green Room at Madison Square Garden tonight, which comes as a shock to the NBA's draftniks.

Jacobsen is one of the 16 flavors of the moment to receive the coveted invitation from the NBA, and the first of many wrinkles slated to mock the crush of mock drafts.

Jacobsen fell out of favor with the basketball intelligentsia soon after declaring his intentions to leave Stanford early.

Jacobsen shoots the jump shot, he gives good quotes and he has blond hair. Those elements do not necessarily add up to an NBA player, although the league's standards are being lowered all the time.

At least Jacobsen's name is vaguely familiar to Dick Vitale's crowd, as opposed to a good number of the nattily attired in the Green Room.

Out of the Woods comes Qyntel, by way of Northeast Mississippi Community College. Woods is said to be one of the players on the Wizards' screen. If so, it looms as mostly an act of surrender to what is available with the No.11 pick overall in the draft.

The Wizards are apt to move up in the draft, move down or stay put, depending on the weather and Michael Jordan's mood.

Those who read tea leaves believe Jordan is bound to play another season with the Wizards, in a reduced capacity, as a backup center, forward or guard who hands out towels. This theory trivializes Jordan's ego and the desperation that led to 37 victories and two bum knees last season.

The Wizards need Jordan as much as Jordan needs the Wizards, barring the sudden emergence of Kwame Brown and sudden evidence of life in Christian Laettner.

The team's roster is not bare, just modest, even by the modest barometers of the Eastern Conference. One player is enough, as Jason Kidd confirms and as Allen Iverson did before him.

A healthy Jordan in the last 25 games is the what-if around the franchise. Is the notion appealing enough to warrant another attempt by the old man?

The Kidd-led Nets barely survived the Pacers in the first round of the playoffs, just as it was for the Iverson-led 76ers against the Raptors in the conference semifinals in 2001. That is the difference between the haves and have-nots in the East, the difference almost negligible. The Bucks danced with both extremes last season, all in a matter of weeks.

This is the rough state of the Wizards, impervious to the draft and like-minded personnel moves.

This draft aspires to be more than prom night, the footnote attached to the slim pickings last June. Amare Stoudemire, from Cypress Creek (Fla.) High School, is the only member of the peach fuzz brigade to have earned a seat in the Green Room.

If Yao Ming is the best of the bunch, the best is relative.

Mike Dunleavy Jr. has the right pedigree and a wishful upside. He also could turn out to be the next Danny Ferry, a serviceable pro instead of the star once envisioned.

Both players attended the same institution and evolved with the help of a knowledgeable basketball father. Both players are missing an NBA body, one step of quickness and a clearly defined position.

Ferry was the No.2 pick overall in the 1989 draft, Dunleavy Jr. slated to go No.3 overall tonight.

As usual, the NBA Draft is set to taunt the college game's conventional wisdom. You can tell by the squirming of the locals, excluding Chris Wilcox.

Roger Mason has disappeared since deciding he was ready to leave Virginia early. A college basketball career is an awful thing to waste on the uncertainty of the second round.

Juan Dixon, the leading figure of March, is hoping not to drop out of the first round. As precarious as it is, Dixon's position is stronger than Lonny Baxter's.

Dixon, Baxter, Wilcox. That was Maryland's pecking order, worthy of a national championship. The NBA imagines it differently, with fingers crossed, of course.

Check back in two or three years.

By then, all too many flavors of the moment have become mere names on a roster, the excitement long since extinguished by the hard blow of reality.


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