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The case for DJ Kennedy for the NBA, updates on Red Storm draft hopefuls

The hoop dreams of the Red Storm senior class continue.

The fellas are getting workouts in with former NBA trainer (and current St. John's assistant coach) Rico Hines, or in other places with fellow NBA hopefuls - Burrell did some workouts in Los Angeles, as did Sean Evans. Paris Horne, Evans, and Justin Brownlee got a little run in a Pro-Am Tournament (Horne scored 21).

Dwight Hardy had a well-publicized workout with the New Jersey Nets. And Hardy, Burrell, Brownlee, Horne, and Evans all have agents, while Dele Coker is also looking for opportunities to play in the NBA or professionally overseas - the next level.

But of all of the Red Storm players... D.J. Kennedy is the one who has shown the most NBA-level skill, deserving of a second-round look. Unfortunately, his knee injury in the Big East Tournament (and the 6-8 month recovery time from the ACL injury) means that he can't work out for NBA teams. More on Kennedy, below the fold.

D.J. Kennedy comes up in John Hollinger's draft player rater at number 55, just above Marshon Brooks. Why? The draft analysts have always loved D.J. Kennedy's combination of athleticism and size. He's not the greatest athlete, the burliest player, or the tallest, but he can play the guard position with enough strength and athleticism to get by.

Kennedy has been a very good open jump shooter from the perimeter. He draws fouls and plays a smart floor game, passing decently from his position. His man-to-man defense has been solid, and by basic defensive stats - steals, blocks, and defensive rebounds - Kennedy makes a hard-nosed impact.

Kennedy has flaws; he's not going to drop 40 points on any teams, his dribble could use some work, his scoring inside the arc isn't impressive. But as a second round pick, he's a little like Landry Fields without the ability to get shots up - a guy who can make a impact plays on the court without needing to be a coddled alpha dog.

Besides Kennedy, which of the players has the best chance of making it to the NBA? For all of them, the NBA dream will likely be deferred for a while; most do not show up highly on the draft boards. Dwight Hardy rates as the 95th prospect on Chad Ford's draft board on ESPN.

Dele Coker is looking for chances to use his bulk in Europe, but not much news has come down about what he's up to. His ability to block shots, shoot a jumper with range, and use his size could be useful, but his extreme fouling tendencies will be an issue. The European game can be rough and physical, and he might be able to fit.

Justin Burrell had a workout for a number of NBA teams, and a workout with the Charlotte Bobcats... of which we've only seen the dunk drill video, a test of quick jump ability (one assumes). He's got the size to bang a bit, but hasn't shown the ability to be a consistent force down low; if he can rebound in NBA camps, though, he can find himself a free-agent place. He plays very hard when motivated.

Justin Brownlee worked out with the Cavaliers, the Lakers, the Atlanta Hawks, the Bobcats, and the Heat. The problems listed in the NBA Draft profile are still there, but so are the skills Brownlee has - versatility and strength. If any player looks like he should be in an NBA camp, it's Brownlee.

Paris Horne, of course, busted a rim with a dunk in a workout with the Sixers (hear him talk about making an impression afterwards). Horne's defense and ability to hit shots from the perimeter when open could get him a chance in an free agent camp with a team, but he's more likely headed to Europe. His strength is defense, but he's probably undersized to play or defend against NBA 2-guards, and would struggle against NBA point guards, unfortunately. But his skills and hops will get him looks somewhere.

Johnny Jungle reports that Dwight Hardy worked out for some teams in France, and had well-publicized workouts with the Nets. A couple of quotes from Hardy (one posted in yesterday's short fanshot). From ESPN:

Hardy has specifically focused on improving his speed, his ballhandling and his midrange shot. His ultimate career goal remains the NBA. But right now he has another goal in mind, after he signs his first professional contract, wherever that may be.

"I live in the projects. The first thing I'm gonna do is get my mom out of the projects," Hardy said. "That's all I think about when I'm working out, or anything with basketball. Just provide a better life for my family. ... That's what motivates me to come out here and work my hardest every day."

From the NY Daily News:

"I've just been waiting for the opportunity. It's a local team. They're coming to Brooklyn.... I would just be so happy if I were to be picked by this team. I would be back in New York, just like playing at St. John's."

The fans would love it too. But chances are - with Hardy's lack of size and lack of point guard skills, and an only-okay showing at the Portsmouth Invitational - that he could become a very good player across the pond, the kind of quick and crafty scorer who can play for many years in established leagues. And France has all that delicious pastry and cheese and wine... not a terrible consolation prize.