Pre-draft workouts can take toll on NBA hopefuls

Blazers bring in another group for shorter workout

By Candace Buckner, Columbian staff writer

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TUALATIN, Ore. — As the NBA Draft draws closer, the group workouts labor on. However, the participants and those paid to watch them are pleading "uncle!"

On Monday morning, the Portland Trail Blazers hosted their ninth workout, but called it a day earlier than some players expected.

"They saw our skill and what we could bring to the table, but at the same time, they realized it's kind of late in the month and everybody's on their ninth and 10th workout," said James Southerland, a four-year forward from Syracuse. "Everyone's bodies are basically deteriorating at this point. We just got to make sure we stay in good shape and bring what we can."

Southerland participated as one of six new invitees who may or may not hear their names called during the NBA Draft on June 27. However, the routine — that hasn't changed since the team's first workout session on May 30 — played out just as predictable as a plot of a Jason Statham movie.

As usual, players gathered at the Blazers' practice facility, found a reversible jersey top, competed against one another, heeded instruction from the coaching staff and each individual finished the session by shooting 3-point shots around the arc.

However, Kenny Boynton, a four-year point guard out of Florida, did reveal one slight change to the process. Boynton said that during a 2-on-2 drill, "one of the guys went out, he got tired."

Although Boynton could not recall the name of the player, Oregon center Tony Woods was not on the floor in the closing moments. Team officials would not say what caused Woods to miss the end of the session.

Boynton has completed six workouts, a relatively small number compared to other players. Although he feels refreshed, Boynton can understand why the Blazers would cut the workout short.

"I have energy," Boynton declared, "but I think (it was) for the other guys because they've been doing back-to-back workouts."

As Southerland explained, the actual work on the court does not factor as much into the fatigue, but the travel from city to city can be a taxing experience.

"I'm not really tired, just a little banged up and plane rides. Those plane rides are killer!" Southerland said. "I'm 6-8 and cramped on a little plane seat … so it's the worst."

The tiny jet seat sure did not make 7-footer Colton Iverson's recent trip from Chicago to Los Angeles a pleasant journey. Iverson, who finished his redshirt senior season at Colorado State with averages of 14.2 points and 9.8 rebounds per game, said that he has participated in 14-15 workouts. Consider that they are 30 teams in the league, and it becomes clear just how many window seats Iverson has folded into this summer.

"It's good that it's winding down here this week," said Iverson, whose final workout will be Sunday, "but the (Blazers) workout was good, it was very competitive today."

The Blazers announced that the 10th pre-draft workout will be held on Wednesday morning — same place, same time, the routine rolls on.