Earth to NBA: Childress will be perfect fit NCAA TOURNAMENT THE ROAD STARTS HERE

March 16, 1995|By KEN ROSENTHAL

Evidently, it wasn't enough for Randolph Childress to score 107 points in three days, breaking a record that stood for 38 years, against the nation's top competition, with a dislocated pinkie on his shooting hand.

Evidently, some people don't get it.

Evidently, he needs to do more.

"I don't think he raised his stock much," Washington Bullets general manager John Nash said Tuesday. "Everyone knows he's a prolific scorer. That's not the question. The question is: Is he a point guard or a shooting guard?

"He's undersized to be a shooting guard. He's in the mold of a Terry Dehere or Rodney Monroe and others who were outstanding scorers, then had to make the change to point guard in the NBA.

"He will not be able to defend the big guards in this league because of his lack of size. I'd have to say the weekend didn't hurt him any -- it confirmed he's an outstanding offensive player. But that hasn't been the question."

Maybe it's best to ignore a GM who traded for Michael Adams, then Scott Skiles. But entering the NCAA tournament, Nash isn't the only NBA executive unsure about Childress.

Houston vice president Bob Weinhauer projected the 6-foot-2, 188-pound Wake Forest senior as a mid-to-late first-round pick, saying he "doesn't have a '1's [point guard's] mentality."

Even Pat Williams, the always upbeat Orlando GM, acknowledged the NBA predicament. "He's still a little bit of a 'tweener' -- people don't know quite what to do with him," Williams said.

Williams, at least, is a Childress fan -- "he'll adjust enough to make it. He's a winner. He's courageous. He's got some special intangibles." And for the doubters who nit-pick for a living, here's a suggestion:

Give Childress the ball.

That's what Wake Forest coach Dave Odom does, and that's how the Demon Deacons earned the No. 1 seed in the East Regional, with a first-round game against North Carolina A&T at the Baltimore Arena today.

Odom agrees Childress is not a natural point guard. He agrees Childress needs to improve his passing and decision-making. But this isn't just about turnover-to-assist ratios, as some NBA people would have you believe.

The question is, can Childress play?

The answer is obvious.

"I don't know if he's a point guard at the NBA level. I don't know if he's an off-guard at the NBA level," Odom said yesterday. "But I know he's an NBA player. I know he's an NBA player."

Odom went on. . . .

"I get kind of amazed by the NBA scouts -- I have a lot of respect for those cats. But some of those guys are coming through and saying, 'Boy, he really raised his stock in the ACC tournament.'

"I look at them with blank faces, and say, 'If it took that for him to improve his stock, you guys need some help. This guy can play.' "

And on. . . .

"Guys come in and say, 'I don't know if he's fast enough.' Well, not. They say, 'I don't know if he's quick enough.' Well, he's probably not. But the thing they don't know, this guy has a heart the size of two grown men -- and it just keeps pumping."

That, more than anything, is what distinguished Childress in the ACC tournament. He rallied Wake from an 18-point deficit against Duke. Played in pain against Virginia. Scored all nine of Wake's points in overtime against North Carolina.

"You're embarrassing me! . . . We will not lose this game!" -- that's what Childress screamed at his teammates during a timeout with Wake trailing Duke, 31-13. He then scored 25 points the next eight minutes, and that was that.

Above all he's a leader, and isn't that what a point guard is supposed to be? Stu Vetter, Childress' high school coach at Flint Hill Prep, said the word that best describes him is "fearless" -- and chose "winner" as a close second.

Childress was on the same high school team as Virginia's Cory Alexander -- but it was he, not Alexander, who played the point. How can anyone underestimate him? He missed an entire season at Wake after undergoing knee surgery, and came back stronger.

Is he a classic point guard? No. Is he another Rodney Monroe? Hardly. All Monroe could do was shoot, and he had Chris Corchiani to create for him. Childress can shoot off the dribble or off the run. He's stronger than Monroe, and oh yes, he also can penetrate.

Monroe, the Atlanta Hawks' second-round pick in 1991, is now playing overseas after spending last season in the CBA. Weinhauer, his former assistant coach in Atlanta, said he was "too nice . . . a little bit soft." The same will never be said of Childress.

Nash said that Childress doesn't get Tim Duncan enough shots, but Duncan averages 10.9 attempts per game, only 1.3 fewer than Maryland's Joe Smith. Childress is a senior, and Duncan a sophomore. Is it a crime that Childress wants the ball?

He averaged only 12.3 shots per game until the ACC tournament, when he averaged 20.3. "I've always considered myself a guard," he said, refusing to distinguish between backcourt positions. "I go out and do what it takes for my team to win."

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