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By Kevin Schnepf, Published June 27 2009

Woodside gets Wolves summer stint

The Minnesota Timberwolves have picked up another point guard: Ben Woodside.

The North Dakota State point guard, who was not selected in Thursday’s NBA draft, learned Friday that he waill play for the Timberwolves in the NBA Summer League to be held July 10-19 in Las Vegas.

Woodside, a 5-foot-11, 185-pound point guard, will be playing with fellow guards Johnny Flynn of Syracuse and Wayne Ellington of North Carolina – the Timberwolves’ No. 5 and 28 picks in Thursday’s draft.

Under the agreement, the Timberwolves do not own the rights to Woodside. Remaining an undrafted free agent, Woodside and his agent Mark Bartelstein will continue to search for an NBA team that has backup point guard needs.

Even if he was drafted, Woodside said he may not have been offered any guarantees.

“It would have been very exciting,” Woodside said of being drafted. “But it’s probably best that I didn’t get drafted. For me, the best way to get into the NBA is to be a free agent, play well in the summer league and hope I get picked up. I am very satisfied with where I’m sitting at right now.”

Thursday night in Chicago, Woodside was sitting in front of a television set anxiously watching the NBA Draft with his mom, dad, sister and girlfriend.

At first, Woodside thought the Minnesota Timberwolves might draft him late in the second round.

Woodside grew up two hours south of the Twin Cites in Albert Lea, Minn.

“But once they picked two points guards in the first round, I knew that was out the window,” Woodside said.

Portland was another team expressing interest in Woodside. Even Lance Berwald, the only NDSU player to be selected in the NBA draft, was hearing rumors that Portland might draft Woodside.

Berwald, a 6-11 center who was drafted in the fifth round in 1984 by the Los Angeles Lakers, played professionally in Spain with Portland general manager Kevin Pritchard.

“I had heard Pritchard was impressed with Ben’s workout out there,” said the 47-year-old Berwald, who now sells real estate in Bloomington, Minn.

Woodside admits he was anxious when Portland was about to announce its No. 55 pick. The two-round draft had 60 picks. But Portland selected St. Mary’s of California guard Patrick Mills.

“I knew it was going to be between Patty and me,” Woodside said.

“Mills is a West coast kid,” Berwald said. “Portland probably saw that kid play 10 times at least throughout the course of the year. How many times did they really get to see Ben play? Mills, being in their own backyard, was a safer pick.”

In 1984 when Berwald was drafted, the NBA draft had 10 rounds. Since 1989, there have been only two rounds – making it even more difficult for players like Woodside to get picked.

Berwald said the recent trend of selecting European players – especially in the second round – hurt Woodside’s chances even more.

“More and more teams draft a foreign kid, leave him in Europe and let him develop,” Berwald said. “I think a player like Ben got caught in the wake of that.”

So what kind of advice does Berwald have for Woodside?

“Enjoy the journey … honest to God, that’s what it is,” Berwald said. “A lot of opportunities are going to come out of this.”

The biggest opportunity is making a big enough of an impression in the summer league to earn an NBA contract worth the league minimum of $457,588.

Another opportunity is playing overseas where Berwald figures Woodside could initially make anywhere from $80,000 to $150,000 a year.

“Ben has created a name for himself that’s just not local but it’s national and international,” Berwald said. “He could make a lot of money overseas.”

Or he could settle for less money and play in the NBA’s Developmental League – readily available for an NBA call-up.

“That’s the D-League advantage over Europe,” Berwald said. “But financially, he can do better overseas.”

Berwald said it could be a year or two before Woodside gets into the NBA. Then again, he said: “I wouldn’t be shocked if he ends up on an NBA roster this year.”

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