<
>

Diogu, Jack trying to confirm status

CHICAGO – You should have seen the looks on the faces of the Chicago predraft campers.

They were pressed against a window Friday night, gawking at the 20 or so physical-only invitees who are projected to go in the upper part of the first round of the NBA draft. The draft's supposed varsity unit was going through the agility drills that the rest of the campers had done days earlier.

Two parts of that supposed top 20 were Arizona State junior forward Ike Diogu and Georgia Tech junior point guard Jarrett Jack.

What does that mean? If history is any indication, both will stay in the draft and not return for their senior seasons. No one with the NBA could remember a Division I player who was invited to the Chicago camp for the physical-only portion of the week and still returned to school.

An invitation to come only for a physical is usually an indication that the NBA views these players as likely for the top of the first round. But neither Diogu nor Jack is convinced that he's a lock for the top 15 just yet. Neither has signed with an agent and both appear to be willing to push their decisions to the June 21 deadline.

"I was definitely happy and pleased about [the physical-only invite]," Diogu said. "Hopefully, that means teams have me slated in the first round. That's one of my goals. I just want to work to get into that top-15 range."

Diogu said he has worked out for Denver (Nos. 20 and 22), Golden State (No. 9), Seattle (No. 25) and Houston (No. 24). He said he has workouts scheduled with New Jersey (No. 15), Indiana (No. 17), Phoenix (No. 21), Toronto (Nos. 7 and 16) and Charlotte (No. 5 and 13).

But for someone who said he wants to be in the top 15, why is he working out for teams below that? Clearly, Diogu wants to cover himself and isn't taking any chances.

"I'm hearing a lot of stuff," Diogu said. "Some are surprised by the way I shot the ball and how hard I play and things like that. All the teams are saying mid-to-late first round, but I want to get into that teen range."

Diogu was a second-team All-American and was one of the most prolific scorers in the country last season. He averaged 22.6 points, 9.8 rebounds and 2.3 blocks a game, but the Sun Devils weren't able to follow his lead consistently enough and ended up 18-14 overall (7-11 in the Pac-10). They lost to UNLV in the first round of the NIT.

If Diogu returns, the Sun Devils have a shot to get back to the NCAA Tournament. They still return rising juniors Bryson Krueger (6.7 ppg), Kevin Kruger (11 ppg) and Serge Angounou (8.1 ppg). And the Sun Devils' staff is confident that newcomers power forward Bruno Claudino, point guard Antwi Atuahene, high school guard Seketoure Henry and power forwards Jeff Pendergraph and Sylvester Seay can shake up the lineup and be productive.

No Diogu likely could mean no postseason.

"I'm one year away from getting my degree and I do feel like we'll have a strong team next year and the overall college life is a reason to go back," Diogu said. "I feel like ASU will have a good team next year either way."

Diogu's decision has been tracked throughout the spring by the local Arizona media and he's had to answer if he's in or out on a number of occasions. If Diogu returns, he could end his career as the top scorer ever in the Pac-10.

"It's been tough, real tough," Diogu said. "This is the business aspect of it and I'm trying not to let it get to me too much, enjoy this process and have fun with it."

Jack doesn't seem to be feeling as much pressure, although he could be feeling a pinch of peer heat. Jack is close with Wake Forest sophomore Chris Paul and North Carolina junior Rashad McCants, both of whom are in the draft for good.

"The feedback I'm getting isn't too concrete and the information varies as to where they see me going," Jack said. "Everyone knows I'm a first-round lock, but where in the first round? Some say in the back end and some say early. Hopefully, I'll have more substantial information next week."

Jack said he has worked out for Charlotte (No. 5 and 13), Minnesota (No. 15) and Toronto (No. 7 and 16). He said he's got a workout with the L.A. Lakers (No. 10) this week. All of these teams are looking for a point guard.

If you're noticing, the team with the lowest pick that Jack is working out for is Toronto, and the Raptors second selection is at No. 16. If Jack were to hear that he is a lock not to slip past Toronto, he's likely gone.

"That's something I'd like to hear," Jack said. "I'd like to go there [Toronto] and help them and create a buzz and help them get into the playoffs. I'll probably wait until [June] 20th, down to the last moment. I have to make sure I'm 100 percent going, not 60-40 and have regrets."

Jack averaged a team-high 15.5 points and 4.5 assists a game for the Yellow Jackets. He's listed as the fourth NCAA point guard in the draft behind Paul, Illinois junior Deron Williams and North Carolina junior Raymond Felton.

Those three likely will be gone by No. 6 when Utah selects, with New Orleans (No. 4) and Charlotte (No. 5) also in the market for point guards. That leaves Jack for point-guard interested teams like Toronto, the Lakers and the Timberwolves.

Jack hasn't closed off the option to return to Georgia Tech, but if he does go back, he'll be a part of a rebuilding team that has lost seniors Will Bynum, Luke Schenscher, B.J. Elder and Isma'il Muhammad – the team's second, third, fourth and fifth-leading scorers last season.

If Jack leaves, rising sophomore Anthony Morrow (5.7 ppg) would be the top returning scorer. The Yellow Jackets have talent, but they are young and inexperienced with players like Ra'Sean Dickey, Jeremis Smith, Mario West and Theodis Tarver (a role player his first three years) to go along with newcomers Lewis Clinch, Alade Aminu, Austin Jackson and D'Andre Bell. Scout.com rated Clinch, a shooting guard, and Aminu, a center, as five and four-star players, respectively.

"We've got a great future there," said Jack, who added that his parents are putting him through the workouts on the road by paying in advance for the trips – a financial strain on them. "We've got a lot of young guys and I could come back and lead them."

The one thing that neither Diogu nor Jack knows and won't have an answer to before June 21 is what the international early-entrants will do. If potential first-round picks Rudy Fernandez, Marko Tomas, Ersan Ilyasova, Tiago Splitter and Martynas Andriuskevicius withdraw from the draft, Jack and Diogu would definitely move up.

Andy Katz is a senior writer for ESPN.com