Serving up our daily preview for the 2012 Citi Open...Tuesday's headlines No. 1 Mardy Fish headlines the seed-heavy day scheduled on the Stadium court, making his 2012 debut against Bjorn Phau with a start time around 7 p.m.. Fish, the No. 13 ranked player, missed out on theOlympics after missing several weeks on tour earlier this year following a procedure to correct a heart problem.His return to the tour included round of 16 run at Wimbledon. Twice a quarterfinalist in Washington, most recently in 2006, Fish pulled out last year as the No. 2 seed with a heel injury.Other seeds slated for Tuesday action include No. 2 Alexandr Dolgopolov leading off at 4 p.m. and fourth-seed Tommy Haas - the last player to beat Roger Federer this year. Coming off a title triumph in Los Angeles on Sunday, No. 8 Sam Querrey caps off the session against Russia's Igor Andreev. Third-seeded Kevin Anderson plays his first-round match on Grandstand 1. Top-seeded Anastasia Pavlyuchenkovaplays heropening match of the tournamentat 4 p.m.with Sloane Stephens' second-round matchconcluding the action on Grandstand 2.Vania King, the No. 4 seed, also makes her debut.Looking back Three-setters were on tap for a quartet of Americans. James Blake and Stephens survived. Melanie Oudin and Brian Baker, not so much.Blake, the 2002 Washington champion, won only his second match of the year, coming from a set down to upset No. 5 seed Pablo Andujar. Stephens, the third-seed in the women's draw, avoided the upset bug by overcoming a suspect second set. Oudin remains in the doubles draw, playing at 4 p.m. with Washington Kastles newcomer Edina Gallovits-Hall, who in singles action stunnedNo. 5 seed Barbora Zahlavova Strycova in three sets.
The Wizards didn't have a draft pick in June, and they passed on buying a pick because president Ernie Grunfeld anticipated he could get exactly what Scott Brooks needed with rookie free agents. Daniel Ochefu, Sheldon McClellan and Danuel House proved him to be correct.
"It says a lot about the organization when you don’t have a draft pick and we have three guys make our team being true rookies," Brooks said Saturday after releasing three players with NBA experience in Johnny O'Bryant, Casper Ware and Jarell Eddie. "Ernie and the staff did a great job of finding three players that fit our DNA. I’m excited about it. They give us youthful athleticism. They all bring a unique talent to our team. Will they play much this year? I’m not sure. They’re going to give us great energy and great effort."
All three have good size and seemed to fit what Brooks preached since Day 1 of training camp in September: A defense-first mentality.
"I know how important every member of the team is. It’s not just the guys who play. It’s not the guys who get all the shots," said Brooks, who can relate to being on the end of the bench during 10 years in the league himself. "It’s the guy who helps those guys get shots, who helps those guys in practice are the guys who make up the true character of your team.”
While House and McClellan appeared to be locks from early on in the process, despite scant playing time towards the end of the preseason, Ochefu gained steam as the process wore on.
“He has a skill-set that really makes him to be able to compete at this level. He plays hard and he’s a really good passer," Brooks said. "Coach Jay (Wright) and Villanova did a great job of teaching him how to roll to the basket. He has great hands and to be able to kick out and making the right plays. And he’s a great guy. He has high character and connects with all the guys.
"When you’re putting your team together you want to make sure those guys at the end of your roster are the personalities that can handle not playing consistently. They’re not going to rest and relax because they made it. You want those guys to keep pushing, keep playing keep working and grinding out every day and we picked three great ones.”
Buying a second-round draft pick can be tricky since players selected after the first round are non-guranteed. The Cleveland Cavaliers paid $2.4 million to the Atlanta Hawks for the No. 54 pick to select Kay Felder. The Golden State Warriors paid $2.4 million to the Milwaukee Bucks to Patrick McCaw at No. 38.
Both have made their teams' roster, but history shows that second-round picks are more difficult to gauge and tend to jump around to other teams before finding their footing. By going the free-agent route, the Wizards were able to get what they wanted minus the risk of paying a few million to another team for the draft position and still have flexibiltiy in place beacuse Ochefu, House and McClellan are on non-guranteed deals.
The leverage that the Wizards had to attract quality free agents to mini-camp and eventually training camp was simple. They had the roster spots open that many other teams did not.
MORE WIZARDS: Wizards pick up Oubre's option: What it means
The third-year option on Kelly Oubre for the 2017-18 season has been exercised by the Wizards, league sources tell CSNmidatlantic.com on Saturday.
Oubre, who will make $2 million for this season, is due to get a bump to $2.1 million for next year. As a first-round draft pick, his first two years in the league are fully guaranteed and the team has the option to retain his rights in Years 3 and 4. The Wizards had to make the move, which was a formality, before the regular season starts next week.
Oubre is expected to be the primary backup for Otto Porter at small forward in his first season playing for coach Scott Brooks.
His numbers and playing time were modest as a rookie as he was not used much under then-coach Randy Wittman, but Oubre's length, athleticism and defensive instincts should make him a better fit. He averaged 3.7 points and 2.1 rebounds last season in 63 appearances.
The Wizards made a deal on draft night in 2015 with the Atlanta Hawks to move up to acquire Oubre for Jerian Grant.
CSNmidatlantic.com reported Aug. 1 that picking up the option on Oubre was a foregone conclusion. In exit interviews following a 41-41 season that landed them out of the playoffs, players told majority owner Ted Leonsis that Oubre should've played more because of his energy and defense.
When Oubre was acquired as a 19-year-old with one year of college at Kansas, president Ernie Grunfeld projected it would take him 2-3 years to develop.
MORE WIZARDS: Wizards roster skews younger, more athletic under Brooks