Paul Davis Works out For Us.
GREENBURGH, New York, June 2, 2006 -- Few players elicit views as divergent as Michigan State center/forward Paul Davis. Ever since the 6-11 insider was tagged as “the potentially next great big guy in the game” two years ago during his sophomore season, how close he’s gotten to that plateau -- or if he’ll ever get there -- has remained the source of much fierce debate.
And it’s not like Davis, who worked out for the Knicks with guards Marshall Strickland (Indiana) and Donnie McGrath (Providence), is unaware of the controversy. “I think the number one thing teams are looking at as far as myself is toughness and the willingness to work hard,” he says. “Staying in school for my fourth year has really helped me develop. If people want to see if I have that ‘edge’, showing my willingness to battle the best guys in the country in these workouts should speak volumes of my passion and physicality. So if I show those things, my skills will carry me.”
“Playing under coach (Tom) Izzo is another thing in my column,” adds Davis. ”Being your own person, being self-driven, is the biggest thing I took away from him. When no one’s watching, what are you going to do? You get one chance in life, so go as hard as you can, go all out. Those are the main things I learned from him for four years.”
Working out with two guards, “Coach Brown and (Knicks President, Basketball Operations) Isiah (Thomas) looked at my dribble moves,” says Davis. “Being a big man who can put the ball on the floor and do good work outside will really help my game, I think. I have a lot of stuff maybe other 6-11 guys don’t have.” “Being able to stretch the defense, pop out to 18-19 feet and shoot it, knock the corner shot down consistently but, at the same time, being able to take a bigger guy off the dribble. Those are the things I can do to help a NBA team.” Davis, not surprisingly, admires the Mavericks’ Dirk Nowitzki tremendously and “hopes to play a little bit like him one day.”
Memphis’ six-nine soph swinger Shawne Williams already plays a LOT like Magic Johnson, giving him a great shot at the lottery. The personable19-year old admits with a shy smile, “Yes, I heard about that -- but it was a little before my time. But now that you mention it, I’ll look at some tapes of how Magic used to do it. I’d love to think I play a little like Rashard Lewis or, Dirk (Nowitzki) or a more athletic Mike Miller.” Either way, his combination of versatile skills and great height is unique and should be a welcome addition for a lot of teams. “I can play the one, two, or three positions comfortably right now,” says Williams. “When I’ll get a little older and stronger, I intend to play the ‘four’, too.”
“I’ll still got a lot to learn, though -- and I learned a whole lot today,” says Williams who puts his Knick workout at “eight and a half or nine on a scale of one to ten.” “It was so well-coached by Coach Brown. He put us through a lot of stuff, trying to see how we grasped things. He was really hands-on, yet extremely patient, stopping us all the time, teaching things. It was very different from all my other workouts. It was amazing.”
“The one thing I really picked up on was how much there is to learn and how different the NBA is from college basketball.”
Illinois speedster Dee Brown, all 6-foot of him, was his usual blur during the workout -- but can he man the point? “I can run a team,” he addresses THE question about him, nodding for emphasis. “I didn’t always HAVE to do that with Deron (Williams), the best point guard in the country, on my team, but I CAN do it, no doubt. I never had a guy NOT like playing with me. I’m the type of player who’s willing to sacrifice. I wasn’t Number Two all-time at Illinois in assists for no reason. I did my job as far as giving the ball to the right guys.”
“I’m a gym rat,” adds Brown. ”Coach Brown was teaching us a lot of little pointers on how to get better on thee screen-and-roll, and how to guard. And I love to learn from a coach of that caliber. When it comes to picking things up, I’m like a sponge.”
“I grew up a big Bulls fan -- so I know a lot about the tradition of the Knicks from watching those great rivalries during the1990-s,” says Brown. “I know that New York is similar to Chicago as far as being a big media base. I’m used to all that. It’s nothing new to me. So I would be super excited about playing here. It would be a pleasure and an honor to be a part of something growing, something that I feel is turning around right now toward being wonderful once again.”
“I would love to be a part of all that.”
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