Defenders the focus in Knicks latest draft workouts

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Only three metropolitan area players have been three-time winners of the Haggerty Award, which is presented to the top local college player. One, Chris Mullin, was an Olympic gold medalist on the original Dream Team. Another, Jim McMillian, was an NBA champion with the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers.

The third, Charles Jenkins of Hofstra, was in the house Thursday for the Knicks, trying to show off his scoring skills while being defended by a player three inches taller than him, Iman Shumpert of Georgia Tech.

"I did pretty good. For me, I think my advantage is my size (6-3). I never have a problem getting my shot off. He's a great defender, he made it a little tough for me to shoot, but I think I did a good job not only shooting the all but getting my teammates involved as well," said Jenkins, who also has worked out for the Spurs, Heat, Rockets, Timberwolves, Nuggets and Bulls and will workout for the Bobcats, Pacers and Mavericks in the upcoming days.

ESPN colleague Chad Ford has Jenkins going at No. 30 to the Chicago Bulls in his Mock Draft 4.0 (Insider), and scouts are projecting the combo guard as a latter-day Vinnie Johnson (the youngsters reading this may be more comfortable with a Gary Neal comparison) who can provide instant scoring off the bench from either guard position. (Jenkins said the NBA player he emulates most is Detroit's Rodney Stuckey).

Jenkins' most impressive stat from college is not his 22.6 points per game scoring average, but rather his 52 percent shooting percentage despite having opposing defenses keying on him every game.

"I don't think you are going to see many players of my size and my ability," Jenkins said.

For his part, Shumpert (who was eighth in the NCAA in steals with 2.7 per game) said he held his own on both ends of the court. Ford has him ranked 41st in his Top 100, in large part because of his college shooting numbers (.406 from the field and .278 from 3-point range last season).

"I shot it real well. I impressed everybody. They all said I couldn't shoot, and I shot it well," said Shumpert, who estimated he made 17 or 18 of 25 NBA 3-point shots during shooting drills. He is scheduled to workout for the Cavs, Suns, Celtics and Bobcats prior to the June 23 draft.

Also in the house Thursday was Florida State small forward Chris Singleton, an intriguing prospect because he is considered perhaps the top overall lockdown defender in this year's draft.

I asked Singleton which NBA defender he tries to emulate, and as I mentioned in today's chat, I was left disappointed when he mentioned Bruce Bowen rather than someone more conventional, such as DeShawn Stevenson or Tony Allen.

If he is taken by the Knicks, he likely would begin the season spelling Carmelo Anthony at the small forward position and/or Amare Stoudemire at the 4.

"At the 3 and the 4 I'd get to learn a lot. You've got the No. 1 power foward and maybe the No. 1 small forward in the country, and it would just be an honor if I get a chance to play along with them," said Singleton, who is projected to be selected 12th (by Utah) in Ford's latest mock draft. "If you do good, the whole city is behind you."

In closing, with the draft now just two weeks away, the time has come for me to issue my first prediction of who the Knicks will take at No. 17 (my choice is subject to change depending on what transpires in the next two weeks). My educated guess at this point is Nikola Vujevic, followed by Klay Thompson and Lucas Nogueira, the Brazilian big man who the Knicks will get a closer look at this weekend at the adidas Eurocamp in Italy.