Ex-Terp Burns is no mirage in desert Forward's pro stock continues to rise

April 26, 1993|By Bob Cohn | Bob Cohn,Contributing Writer

PHOENIX -- It isn't easy to make a splash in the desert, but that's what Evers Burns did.

The Maryland forward from Woodlawn High was one of the head-turners at the Desert Classic, an NBA showcase camp in which 32 college seniors tried to prove they belong with the big names.

Burns, a late addition to the camp, ended up making the all-tournament team. Not that the numbers are entirely revealing, but he did average 13.3 points and 7.3 rebounds and shot 63 percent.

Burns, who starred in the Portsmouth, Va., camp a few weeks ago, has positioned himself to be selected in the NBA draft in June. The only question is how high his stock has risen.

"He really helped himself in Portsmouth, and when he came out here against better competition, he helped himself more," said San Antonio Spurs general manager Bob Bass, who coached Burns' team. "I think he moved himself up. I don't know how far or where."

Burns, 6 feet 8, 253 pounds, looked good in scrimmages and even better during games at America West Arena. He was tough around the basket offensively and defensively, and impressed scouts with his ability to get up and down the floor.

Was he surprised at his play?

"Yes and no," Burns said. "Coming into the tournament, I had a lot of confidence. It didn't really bother me about how I could play, but to play this well, that surprised me.

"Rebounding, playing defense, running the floor, those were the things I wanted to do. I think I showed that pretty well."

Phoenix Suns scout Dick Percudani said: "He may not wow you with his physical appearance and athleticism, but he grows on you."

Chuck Douglas, Washington Bullets assistant general manager, said Burns "just outworked everybody here," but offered some balance to the general raves.

"I would like to see him concentrate more on the defensive boards," Douglas said. "He's so intent on beating his man end-to-end, sometimes he releases too quickly."

Meanwhile, Dunbar High graduate Sam Cassell struggled a bit. Primarily a shooting guard at Florida State, Cassell, who was measured at 6-1 3/4 , figures to play point guard in the NBA. He wanted to emphasize his ball-handling, passing and defense, and did that, to an extent. But his offense suffered.

In the final game on Saturday, for example, Cassell was 0-for-2 from the field. He made just five of 16 shots in the three games, though he was 15-for-17 from the foul line.

"I don't think I hurt myself," said Cassell, who played mostly at shooting guard because of an abundance of point guards. "I took what they gave me. I was playing out of position this week, but I think I'm ready."

There seems to be some difference of opinion about Cassell's NBA identity.

"Sam will need to score in our league to play," said Suns vice president Cotton Fitzsimmons, who coached Cassell during the tournament. "He needs to be a little more physical, but when you don't have the physical tools and the great body, you take what you got."

Burns and Cassell plan to attend the NBA pre-draft camp in Chicago in June, which is closed to the press and public and where they would undergo far greater scrutiny.

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