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Kevin Schnepf, Published June 25 2009

North Dakota State's Ben Woodside will learn his NBA draft fate today

Ben Woodside is ready to relax and watch a little television tonight.

After a five-week, whirlwind of professional basketball tryouts in nine different cities, Woodside will watch tonight’s NBA draft wondering if he will become the second North Dakota State men’s basketball player to be drafted.

“It will be exciting,” said Woodside, who will be in Chicago watching the draft with his dad, mom, younger sister and girlfriend.

“But I’ll be totally honest, it’s going to be tough for me to get drafted. But you never know. There might be a team out there that says, ‘We like him and we want him.’ ”

Back in 1984, the Los Angeles Lakers liked 6-foot-11 Lance Berwald enough to draft him in the fifth round – becoming the first and only NDSU player ever to be drafted.

Now with the draft limited to two rounds, Woodside will watch the draft in his downtown Chicago apartment that he has called home for the last five weeks. When not on the road for tryouts, Woodside has been working out in the Windy City, where his agent, Mark Bartelstein, is based.

Bartelstein, who has 45 NBA clients and nine more who are draft prospects this year, is far more optimistic about Woodside’s name being announced on ESPN tonight.

“I think he’s going to get drafted,” Bartelstein said. “And in the event he doesn’t, a lot of teams will be lining up to sign him up for their summer leagues.

“I think he has a very good shot. Almost everywhere he has gone, he has opened some eyes. He has kind of wowed people.”

From the time he started his flurry of tryouts on May 19 in San Antonio, Woodside has shown he is more than a catch-and-shoot type of player.

Relying on the skills that helped him score 60 points in one game last season and 37 points against Kansas in the opening-round of the NCAA tournament, the 5-foot-11 Woodside has displayed his ability to drive to the basket and score – while still being able to knock down outside shots.

ESPN.com projects Woodside as a late second-round pick to undrafted – ranking him among its top 100 prospects.

The site lists his positives as: very productive scoring point guard, quick first step, excellent perimeter shooter, deep range on his jumper, really knows how to get to the line, good floor vision.

It lists his negatives as: lacks great size for position, not an explosive athlete, struggles against quick, longer athletes and not a good defender.

“I doubt he makes the NBA,” writes Chad Ford of ESPN.com. “Most likely, he’s going to make lots of money in Europe.”

But ESPN.com’s John Hollinger ranks Woodside higher than 54th among the 90 prospects he rated.

“Demar DeRozan ranked 54th,” wrote Holligers. “Two of his USC teammates – Daniel Hackett and Taj Gibson – outranked him, as did assorted other nonentities such as Kevin Rogers, Chinemelu (Elonu) and Ben Woodside.”

Such a ranking doesn’t surprise Bartelstein, who claims Woodside has outplayed everyone he has gone against during his tryouts in San Antonio, Minneapolis, Chicago, Oklahoma City, Detroit, Utah, Denver, Sacramento and Portland.

Bartelstein said the trend in the NBA the last decade has been to put more responsibility on the point guard to score.

“The fact that Ben can do that … that’s what makes him so valuable,” Bartelstein said. “He continues to show he can score going against high-level athletes. And he competes so hard. I think there are a lot of teams looking for point guards and backup point guards who can score.”

Bartelstein refused to name what teams are showing interest, a standard practice among agents wary of affecting draft selections.

Woodside said he has received good feedback from teams, saying many are surprised at what he can do. He admits all the travel may have caught up to him in Portland, where he said his jump shot was short and he wasn’t finishing like he usually does.

“It is a grind right now,” Woodside said. “I could tell I was a little tired in Portland. But I’ve been loving it.

“This has all been a blessing and a great opportunity. I was sitting back thinking the other day that this has all been like one big job interview. A lot of kids would love to be in my shoes.”


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

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