Former Terp Elliott doesn't get call Pacers rookie camp next

CBA, Europe also options

June 25, 1998|By Eduardo A. Encina | Eduardo A. Encina,SUN STAFF

Sitting in his East Baltimore home, former University of Maryland and Dunbar High basketball player Rodney Elliott watched as his name went unannounced during the NBA draft last night.

Afterward, he did not choose to answer questions.

Being passed over does offer new challenges for Elliott, challenges that he has always welcomed in his basketball career.

According to his agent, Frank Catapano, Elliott will attend the Indiana Pacers' rookie and free-agent camp Saturday through Tuesday, taking the first step to gaining an NBA roster spot.

Elliott also received invitations to attend rookie camps for the Washington Wizards and Toronto Raptors, but those are held at the same time as the Pacers' camp.

"Of all the teams I've contacted, not one of them has been negative about Rodney," Catapano said yesterday. "I think it's because there is a tremendous upside to him. He has versatility, he has improved every year and he has a positive attitude."

As a senior at Maryland, Elliott became a leader by example on the court. He was a third-team All-Atlantic Coast Conference selection, averaging 15.0 points and 7.4 rebounds, helping the Terps to a third-place ACC finish and a school-record fifth consecutive NCAA tournament appearance.

Through four years of experience and hard work, Elliott found playing time and became the Terps' most consistent scorer and rebounder as a senior, leading them to the Sweet 16 in the NCAA tournament.

Even if Elliott makes an NBA team, he may play elsewhere because of the possibility of an NBA lockout. Catapano said Elliott then would pursue opportunities in Europe or in the Continental Basketball Association.

"I think Rodney could play in the CBA," Catapano said. "He is the type of player who could do very well there because he has a lot of all-around abilities."

Elliott participated in the Portsmouth (Va.) Invitational Tournament in early April in Virginia, and ranked fifth in scoring among 64 pro prospects who participated, but he shot only 17-for-45 from the field. In the tournament opener, he scored 25 points.

Elliott had been regarded as one of 20 to 25 players who could be drafted in the mid- to late second round. His improvement in scoring and rebounding each year in college, and the fact he has a jumper that extends beyond the three-point range have made him a prospect.

Catapano also represents NBA players Dana Barros of the Boston Celtics, David Wesley of the Charlotte Hornets and Sam Mitchell of the Minnesota Timberwolves, a player that Elliott reminds him of.

"He reminds me a lot of Sam as a young guy, a hard-working player who doesn't expect anybody to just give him anything," Catapano said. "I have no doubt that if Rodney keeps working at it, that he'll make make the NBA."

At Dunbar, he guided the Poets to a 23-3 record and the Class 2A state championship in 1994, averaging 12 points and 13 rebounds. He then followed Dunbar teammate Keith Booth to Maryland, re-establishing the Dunbar pipeline to College Park that was halted by the firing of former Dunbar coach Bob Wade in 1989.

Pub Date: 6/25/98

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