The Washington Bullets took a long, hard look yesterday at Tom Gugliotta, North Carolina State's all-conference forward who, if the June 24 NBA draft goes as predicted, could become their choice with the sixth pick in the first round.
Gugliotta might not fill the team's prime need for an intimidating power forward, but the 6-foot-10, 245-pound native of Huntington, N.Y., has exhibited the shooting touch, passing skills and rebounding mentality to play either forward position.
Known as "Gugs" by his Wolfpack teammates, he worked out at Bowie State yesterday with head coach Wes Unseld and assistants Bill Blair and Jeff Bzdelik putting him through agility drills.
"Gugliotta was very impressive," said general manager John Nash. "But then, I was also impressed by [Notre Dame forward] (( LaPhonso Ellis and [Stanford center] Adam Keefe earlier in the FTC week. They're all articulate, bright individuals, but with different strengths. Getting to know them as individuals is an important part of our scouting process."
In their search for a strong front-line player, the Bullets know the two most dominant big men -- Louisiana State's Shaquille O'Neal and Georgetown's Alonzo Mourning -- will be claimed with the first two selections, by the Orlando Magic and Charlotte Hornets.
Duke center-forward Christian Laettner will go to the Minnesota Timberwolves or Dallas Mavericks, depending on how highly those teams rate Ohio State guard Jim Jackson.
Denver, with the fifth pick, is looking for a power forward, and could grab Keefe right before the Bullets are forced to make a choice.
But a team source said he would not be unhappy in being left with Gugliotta, who improved markedly each college season after an unimpressive freshman year when he suffered growing pains, averaging only 3.7 points as an ungainly reserve.
By his junior year, he was averaging double figures (11.1), but his statistics soared last season when he averaged 22.7 points and 8.8 rebounds, tops in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Gugliotta scored 36 points in a 99-88 upset of North Carolina in his final encounter with the Tar Heels.
" 'Gugs' was like the team's big daddy," said N.C. State coach Les Robinson. "All the other players looked up to him."