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By Kevin Schnepf, Published July 12 2009

Good health helps Woodside's chances

Preparing for this week’s NBA Summer League in Las Vegas with the Minnesota Timberwolves, Ben Woodside couldn’t help but be thankful Saturday for staying healthy.

The former North Dakota State point guard felt bad when he learned point guard Patrick Mills broke his foot earlier this week. Mills, a sophomore from St. Mary’s of California, was the 55th pick of last month’s NBA Draft by the Portland Trail Blazers – a pick where Woodside and others thought he might have been selected.

“That’s a bummer for him … I feel bad for him,” Woodside said. “I’ve got to be thankful that I’ve been able to stay healthy.”

Mills broke his right foot Thursday while practicing in Portland, which was preparing for this week’s NBA Summer League in Las Vegas – where a mixture of rookies, undrafted rookie free agents like Woodside and veteran prospects will try to make one last impression for NBA coaches.

Does the injury to Mills – who is expected to be sidelined until October’s training camp – mean anything for Woodside’s quest to land on an NBA roster?

“I don’t know if that really helps me out or not … I think the Portland organization will adjust,” Woodside said. “That’s just bad luck. I will continue to try to stay healthy, that’s the key.”

Woodside, a 5-foot-10 point guard who is NDSU’s all-time leading scorer, has had numerous tryouts with NBA teams during the last two months.

After going undrafted, he was picked up by the Minnesota Timberwolves for this week’s summer league. But he remains a free agent who can still be signed by any NBA team.

The Timberwolves’ summer league team includes: Corey Brewer and Bobby Brown, who were rookies with the Wolves last season; first-round picks Jonny Flynn of Syracuse, Gerald Henderson of Duke and Wayne Ellington of North Carolina plus free agents Paul Harris of Syracuse, Devin Green of Hampton College, Steven Hill of Arkansas, Rob Kurz of Notre Dame, Oleksiy Pecherov of the Ukraine and Pat Carroll of St. Joseph’s College in Pennsylvania.

Five of the 13 Timberwolves players are true guards.

Woodside, from D1

“To be able to show what you’ve got, you’ve got to play minutes,” Woodside said. “So I’m hoping that I get some playing time.”

And when he’s playing, Woodside hopes he can show NBA coaches his ability distribute the basketball.

“Everyone can shoot it well so I’ve got to create and get the ball to them,” Woodside said. “That’s the key this week because everyone is good, everyone can play and everyone can shoot it.”

Woodside and the Timberwolves went through two-a-day practices Friday and Saturday before today’s opening game against the Houston Rockets. Woodside’s ultimate goal is to land on an NBA team. If not, he is expected to land a lucrative contract with a major team overseas.

“After this week, I should have a good idea of what direction I’m going,” Woodside said. “I’m just thankful for this opportunity. This whole ride has been a blast.”

Timberwolves Summer League schedule

Today: vs. Houston Rockets, 5 p.m.

Monday: vs. D-League Select, 3 p.m.

Friday: vs. Washington Wizards, 7 p.m.

Saturday: vs. New Orleans Hornets, 5:30 p.m.

Sunday: vs. Chicago Bulls, 5 p.m.

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