- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 4, 2006

The Washington Wizards are looking for a few good big men.

A trio of tall, unproven post players — Andray Blatche, Peter John Ramos and first-round draft pick Oleksiy Pecherov — was the focus of the team’s minicamp, which opened yesterday in preparation for summer league competition in Las Vegas.

The 7-foot Pecherov went through his first practice under coach Eddie Jordan at Verizon Center, quickly picking up the offense and showing a good outside shot.

“I am pretty happy so far,” Jordan said. “He’s got a natural knack to create his own shot. He feels comfortable with the ball in his hands. There’s a comfort level there. He’s sees the game. He makes good passes to cutters. He makes the open pass, the easy pass. He can catch and shoot with confidence.”

Jordan said he wants to see how Pecherov reacts to the physical games this summer.

Pecherov, a 21-year-old Ukrainian, will work out at Verizon Center the next two days before the team leaves for its summer league opener against Toronto at UNLV on Thursday.

“I just want to play good basketball and show my basketball IQ,” said Pecherov, who averaged 11.2 points and 6.3 rebounds in a limited role for Paris Basket Racing last season. “I just play basketball and, hopefully, good basketball. It’s not that hard. You just listen and do what they want you to.”

The Wizards will decide before the season whether Pecherov will play in Washington or return to Europe for another year of experience. Pecherov said he will do whatever the club wants.

“If the team wants me right away, I am ready to come right away,” he said. “If not, I am ready to play one season in Europe.”

The Wizards also hope to learn whether Blatche, 19, is ready for a significant role. The 6-foot-11 Blatche was a second-round pick out of high school in Connecticut last year. He was shot in the right forearm and chest in September during a carjacking in Alexandria.

It proved to be a lengthy setback, and Blatche still doesn’t have full movement in his right wrist.

“I was basically going through the motions so I could get ready for this year,” said Blatche, who played sparingly in 29 Wizards games last year and in six in the National Basketball Development League in Roanoke. “At first my goal was to be in the NBA. Now I am in the NBA. Now I want to play.”

Pecherov and Blatche will get more time to develop, but time is running out on Ramos. The 7-foot-3 Puerto Rican is entering his third season and the final year of his contract. Ramos, 21, split time between Washington and Roanoke last season.

“It is going to be an important summer for him,” Jordan said. “It is not time to be inexperienced. It is not time to be nervous. It is not time to not step up and not be productive. Whether it’s make or break, I don’t know.”

Second-round pick Vladimir Veremeenko, a 6-10 forward from Belarus, was not at Verizon Center and apparently will stay overseas for the foreseeable future.

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