- The Washington Times - Monday, June 15, 2009

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - Tyler Hansbrough has heard the speculation about where he’ll go in the NBA draft.

He’s a little curious, himself.

Hansbrough is making a pre-draft tour, working out for NBA teams and trying to validate a resume that includes college player of the year in 2008 and a national championship this season.

“It’s a lot of speculation right now,” Hansbrough said Monday after working out for the Utah Jazz. “You really don’t know who to believe. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens.”

Fortunately for Hansbrough, the waiting is almost over. Less than two weeks remain before the draft June 25, when Hansbrough will learn which draft prediction was right.

Although he set the Atlantic Coast Conference career scoring record in four years at North Carolina, he has been projected to go anywhere in the first round _ from early to late _ or possibly even in the second round.

“It’s tough, but you have to understand that’s the way it is,” Hansbrough said. “I’ll continue to work out for teams and see what happens. I’m more athletic than a lot of people think I am. A lot of people see me as just a hard worker, but I do a little more than work hard.”

The Jazz liked what they saw from Hansbrough, but have no idea whether he will still be available when they come up in the first round with the 20th overall pick.

Coach Jerry Sloan loves players who work hard and was impressed by Hansbrough, who worked out with a group that included Arizona State forward Jeff Pendergraph and Taj Gibson of Southern California.

“They knocked and banged around,” said Sloan, who is still recovering from having his right knee replaced a few days after the season ended.

Sloan, who normally spends this time working on his farm in southern Illinois, said he’s been stuck at home for the past week and was happy to finally get out and back to work.

He said blood clots after the operation April 30 set back his recovery, but he should be ready to go for his 22nd season with the Jazz.

“It’s been tough but that’s what I expected,” Sloan said. “I’m a lot better than I was and I’m pretty happy about that, but I’m disappointed from the standpoint that I’m a couple weeks behind.”

Sloan was clearly happy to be back at the gym, getting a look at who could be in his next rookie class. He’s also still waiting to hear which veterans are coming back as forward Carlos Boozer, center Mehmet Okur and forward Kyle Korver decide whether to opt out of the final year of their contracts.

The Jazz aren’t likely to know before the draft.

If Hansbrough is still available, his reputation for a staunch work ethic could make him an early favorite with Sloan.

“Guys that are willing to work always get better. That’s a huge thing in this business,” Sloan said. “That’s what you look for because it gives your team a chance to be competitive. Guys that really want to play and want to make themselves better can do that through hard work.”

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