McCollum's versatility stands out among guards

McCollum's versatility stands out among guards
May 23, 2013, 8:30 am
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At one point, the best available for the Wizards could've been combo guard C.J. McCollum from Lehigh.

They interviewed the four-year college player at the combine last week, but that’s when the Wizards were projected to pick at eighth place in the June 27 draft.

Because of the draft lottery Tuesday, however, the Wizards are choosing third and likely will go for the best available forward or center which is a greater need.  Of course, they could trade down in the lottery and acquire a more experienced player at those positions and take a guard such as McCollum to add backcourt depth.

The Wizards lacked scoring last season when they averaged just 93.2 points per game (tied for last in NBA) and could lose backup guard A.J. Price to free agency. The guard positions behind starters John Wall and Bradley Beal were a revolving door.

While just about every guard at the pre-draft combine in Chicago claimed they can do it all, McCollum has proven he actually can.  He averaged 24 points, five rebounds and three assists in his senior season. He shot 50% from the field and was even better from three-point range at 51.6%.

He has been training in Long Island, N.Y., with fellow prospects Michael Carter-Williams (Syracuse), Mike Muscala (Bucknell) and Anthony Bennett (UNLV), the latter of whom likely is on the short list to be chosen with Washington’s first pick.

McCollum came to national attention as a junior when he scored 30 points in an upset of Duke in the NCAA tournament.  He’s a shade under 6-3 without shoes but can shoot off the dribble, on the catch and has good vision though he’s probably more natural at shooting guard.

“I consider myself a do-it-all guard. Whatever’s necessary to get the job done,” said McCollum, who broke his left foot in January but didn't get clearance from a doctor until three weeks ago. "If they want me to play the point guard at the next level, I’m more than fully capable of doing that.

“Having gone four years of college, I definitely matured. I’m pretty crafty on ball screens, pretty good at reading screens.”

McCollum did 30-minute sitdown interviews with at least 14 other teams at the combine, including the Orlando Magic, Oklahoma City Thunder, Denver Nuggets and Miami Heat.

"One of the things I really have been focusing on is a complete body strength, core strength, lateral movements," he said. "You got to be able to guard on an island in the NBA. …You got better athletes and bigger guys setting screens . That’s one of the things that everybody needs to work on."