As a pick, Terps' Profit is on a roll

Clutch-less collegian stars in draft camps

June 29, 1999|By Christian Ewell | Christian Ewell,SUN STAFF

With no disrespect to college basketball, Laron Profit loves this game as it is played in the NBA. The affinity may pay off in a first-round draft selection this week.

In May games that could matter more than ones in March, the 6-foot-5 guard from Maryland established himself in the minds of NBA scouts who will determine his professional future.

It was then that his pluses -- strong defense and abundant athleticism -- won out over his minuses of poor outside shooting.

"I just like the NBA style, just playing," Profit said. "Use your strength against someone else's weakness, and whoever's best comes out on top."

His agent, Leland Hardy, said that Profit's chances of going in the first round were "extremely good. Almost invariably, he's regarded as a mid- to late-first-round pick."

The NBA draft will be held tomorrow night in Washington.

Profit, 21, scored 1,566 points and was a student government official in four years at Maryland, but he etched his name into the minds of Terps fans as the guy who came up small in big games.

But he doesn't dwell on it,saying "that was college." Instead, Profit has made memories of his lesser performances disappear while the evidence of his talent remains.

After strong performances under cattle-call conditions at pre-draft events, he has made stops in Orlando, Fla., Minneapolis, Indianapolis, Atlanta and most recently Houston, all sites of pro teams interested in him.

Profit had a hip pointer when he worked out for the Rockets last Friday, but he still managed to make a good impression on the team's executive vice president of basketball, Carroll Dawson.

"He was one of the nicest people we've ever had in here," said Dawson, whose team owns the 22nd, 44th and 50th picks. "He's very impressive as a person and a player. His strengths are being a slasher and a 94-foot player."

Unencumbered by zone defenses that stifled his drives on cold winter nights, Profit was much more successful in the spring, excelling at one camp in Chicago and making the All-Star team at another in Phoenix.

Dawson also said Profit's defensive abilities would serve him well in the NBA, and compared him to Portland forward Stacey Augmon. An eight-year veteran in the league, Augmon has survived without a dependable jump shot.

"Stacey Augmon D's you up, always. That's who Profit reminds you of," Dawson said. "To get a defense-oriented guy to teach, that's a plus. All those things factor into what you think he's going to be as the total package."

Profit doesn't expect to get much in the way of goose bumps tomorrow, whether he watches the draft at his parents' home in Dover, Del., or at the MCI Center.

"I just want to be able to take care of my family and play basketball," Profit said. "I love to play. All this other stuff, I don't get caught up with that."

More on draft

Francis: Takoma Park roots for hometown hero Steve Francis to be No. 1 pick. [Page 1A]

Coming tomorrow: NBA draft preview.

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