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Kevin Schnepf, Published June 05 2009

NBA coach says Woodside has opened eyes

According to one NBA coach, Ben Woodside’s stock rose this week in Minneapolis.

“He has opened a lot of eyes around the league,” Washington Wizards coach Flip Saunders said Wednesday on a Minneapolis radio show. “No question, he has an opportunity in this league to make a team.”

Woodside, who ended his North Dakota State basketball career this spring as the school’s all-time leading scorer, joined 12 other college players for Tuesday’s pre-draft workout in Minneapolis that attracted representatives from 20 NBA teams.

According to Saunders, Woodside and Michigan State center Goran Suton were the most impressive of the group. It was impressive enough that Woodside’s agent got calls from a dozen different NBA teams wanting to schedule a tryout.

“He was terrific,” said Mark Bartelstein, Woodside’s agent who is based in Chicago. “They were impressed with his overall game … his ability to put down the outside shot, his ability to drive to the basket and his ability to create.”

Having already gone through a tryout for the San Antonio Spurs, Woodside is scheduled to try out for the Chicago Bulls next week. Bartelstein said he is now scheduling tryouts with Utah, Portland, Sacramento, Oklahoma City and Detroit.

Under the guidance of Bartelstein’s Priority Sports Agency, Woodside has been working out in Chicago. The 5-foot-11 guard from Albert Lea, Minn., caught some national attention when he scored 60 points in a game last December.

More NBA scouts took notice when Woodside scored 37 points against Kansas in an NCAA tournament opening-round game.

His stock elevated even more at this spring’s Portsmouth (Va.) Invitational where – competing amongst 59 other college seniors – he was among the top third in scoring with an 11.3 average in three games.

Saunders, a former Minnesota Timberwolves and Detroit Pistons coach, took notice of Woodside in Minneapolis this week.

“He has a unique ability to get his shot off,” Saunders said on KFAN Radio’s Paul Allen Show. “He is a very tough kid.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Kevin Schnepf at (701) 241-5549

Schnepf’s NDSU media blog can be found at www.areavoices.com