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By Kevin Schnepf, Published April 27 2009

Pro-active path: NDSU’s Woodside on to NBA tryouts

Ben Woodside, the leading scorer in North Dakota State men’s basketball history, found out Sunday that he will get NBA tryouts with the Minnesota Timberwolves, Portland Trail Blazers, Memphis Grizzlies and Houston Rockets.

According to his agent Mark Bartelstein, it will be the first of many tryouts yet to be scheduled.

“There will be a lot more,” Bartelstein said. “We’re just in a process now of putting a calendar of tryouts together for the month of May.”

For Woodside, it’s the next step in reaching his childhood dream of playing in the NBA.

“It’s great news and it’s an honor to be able to even tryout with these teams,” said Woodside, who ended his Bison career last month with 2,315 points. “This is just the beginning of a long process.”

Bartelstein said Woodside opened a lot of eyes with his performance at the Portsmouth (Va.) Invitational held earlier this month.

Competing in games amongst 59 other college seniors, Woodside was among the top third in scoring with an 11.3 average in three games.

Woodside ranked second in

3-point percentage (.571), sixth in steals (2.0 per game), 15th in free throw percentage (.671), 21st in assists (2.33 per game) and 31st in field goal percentage (.423).

“I think he impressed a lot of people with the way he can run a team from his point guard role,” Bartelstein said. “He showed he can play at the highest level. He proved he can compete with the best.”

Bartelstein is CEO and founder of Priority Sports, a 24-year-old firm in Chicago that represents 85 NFL players and 43 NBA players. Ranked as one of the 20 most influential sports agents, Bartelstein recently negotiated a two-year, $23 million deal for Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner.

In basketball, Bartelstein has built a reputation of representing highly paid NBA role players – like Brad Miller, Bobby Simmons and Antoine Walker who each have contracts worth more than

$10 million.

“He represents a lot of blue-collar type guys,” Woodside said. “He likes the work ethic. He’ll work his butt off if you work your tail off.”

Bartelstein compares Woodside to two of his clients – backup guards Eddie House and Chris Quinn.

House, an eighth-year pro with the Boston Celtics, was a second-round draft pick out of Arizona State – where he scored 61 points in one game. Woodside scored 60 last December against Stephen F. Austin.

Quinn, a second-year pro with the Miami Heat, was undrafted coming out of Notre Dame. Now he averages 14 minutes and nearly 5 points per game.

Many experts think Woodside will not be drafted. So what chance does he have of cracking an NBA lineup as a free agent like Quinn?

“I think Ben’s got a great chance,” Bartelstein said. “There’s a lot of work to be done. But he’s never been afraid to work. I wouldn’t put anything past Ben Woodside.”

According to Bartelstein, Woodside has to show during the next month’s tryouts that he can guard people and be a consistent shooter.

In workouts set up by Bartelstein’s agency, Woodside has been doing one-on-one defensive drills – focusing on keeping his man in front of him.

He’s also been working on shots he hasn’t had to take during his career – like feeding a post player and setting himself up for a return pass and shot or how to be a weakside guard, waiting to score, instead of being the point guard creating the action.

“I might be the guy who has to knock down the 3-pointer if a big-time player gets double-teamed,” Woodside said. “At the end of the shot clock, I’m probably not going to have the ball in my hands like I did in college.”

Woodside’s mindset for the upcoming tryouts is simple: outwork the other player.

“I know for a fact I will work my hardest at every workout to try to prove that I have what it takes. Whether it benefits me in the NBA or internationally, that has yet to be determined.

“Am I NBA ready or not? A 5-foot-11 kid? A lot of people look at that and say no. That’s not my mentality.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Kevin Schnepf at (701) 241-5549. Schnepf’s NDSU media blog can be found at www.areavoices.com