A dream within reach

Towson Catholic product eagerly awaits hearing name called in draft

Donte Greene

June 26, 2008|By Stefen Lovelace | Stefen Lovelace,SUN REPORTER

Tonight's the night that Donte Greene has dreamed about his whole life.

Throughout his outstanding high school career at Towson Catholic and his one-and-done season at Syracuse, Greene always kept the thought of one day walking across the stage at Madison Square Garden, shaking NBA commissioner David Stern's hand and putting on the cap of the NBA team that drafted him.

Tonight, the dream that Greene has replayed in his head over and over again will finally become reality. He is expected to be selected in the first round of tonight's NBA draft, probably in the top 25.

"Growing up as a kid, your dream is to play in the NBA," Greene said. "I felt like after my first year [at Syracuse], I had a decent year and a lot of people said there was a possibility of me playing in the NBA next year. Having that dream and knowing what I'm capable of doing, I felt like it was time."

Greene has been projected in mock drafts to go between the 13th and 25th picks. If Greene were selected in that range, he would make $867,200 to $1,499,300 in his first season. Rookie contracts are guaranteed for the first two seasons, with team options for the third and fourth years.

Many drafts had the 6-foot-10 small forward going to the Golden State Warriors at No. 14. Greene and his family and friends just want to see him go somewhere he can fit in.

"I'd like to see him go to a team where there's a good front office and they've got things in place for him where he can be successful," said Towson Catholic's Josh Pratt, who coached Greene when he was a junior and a senior in high school. "Probably about a dozen NBA teams have called me on the phone asking about him. I'd just like to see him go to a place where he fits in."

Greene has held workouts with almost all the teams picking in the top 20 and said he thought he impressed the New York Knicks (No. 6), Milwaukee Bucks (No. 8), Charlotte Bobcats (Nos. 9 and 20), New Jersey Nets (No. 10), Sacramento Kings (No. 12) and Phoenix Suns (No. 15). He has worked out with other potential first-round picks, such as West Virginia's Joe Alexander, LSU's Anthony Randolph, Kansas' Brandon Rush and Florida's Marreese Speights.

He's confident his game fits in well with the NBA.

"I think my shooting sets me apart. When the big man is getting doubled, I can knock shots down," Greene said. "If a team decided to use a bigger defender, I can use my length and get to the basket. Even if a smaller guy covers me, I feel like I can post up, so I think my whole game can definitely contribute next year in the league."

Greene's talent and potential set him apart from others in the draft.

"His strengths are his talent level," said Jay Bilas, an ESPN college basketball analyst. "He's a talented young kid with good size, and he's a great athlete. He's got some ability to shoot from the perimeter and has the potential to be very good."

Although Greene has a high ceiling, he's still raw and has a lot of work to do if he hopes to be a factor in the NBA.

"I think right now his weaknesses are larger than his strengths, being so young," said David Thorpe, an NBA analyst for ESPN.com. "He's someone that doesn't understand the value of attacking the rim, getting to the free-throw line and getting uncontested shots, not just threes. I think the risk there is he has to learn how to play. Just because you make the NBA and you're a first-round pick doesn't mean you know how to play the game."

Some believe Greene should have stayed at Syracuse longer than one season to become more polished. But playing for the Orange longer was never in his plans.

"Even during his recruitment process, he mentioned he wanted to be one-and-done at whatever school he went to," Syracuse assistant coach Rob Murphy said. "Once the season was over, he talked with his family and the coaching staff and he decided to turn pro, and we gave him the full support. He knew what was at stake after he did his homework, and he decided that's what he wanted to do and that's what was in his heart."

The guaranteed contract that the first round provides is tough for any young athlete to pass up. Just where he'll land, though, is difficult to predict, and at least one analyst said there's a possibility that Greene could slip in the draft.

"He's not going to be as high a draft pick as some of the folks are projecting him right now," Bilas said. "He'll be drafted in the first round, but if he had waited, he may have been a higher pick next year."

stefen.lovelace@baltsun.com

NBA DRAFT

What -- NBA draft, two rounds.

Where -- Madison Square Garden, New York.

When -- Tonight, 7-12. Airing live on ESPN.

Who -- Baltimore natives Donte Greene (Syracuse) and Joey Dorsey (Memphis) are expected to be drafted, along with Maryland's James Gist. Greene is expected to be selected in the mid- to late first round. Dorsey and Gist are expected to be drafted in the second round.

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