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05-11-2004, 12:41 PM
If you missed it Jay posted that Insider article about the Pacers in the Pacers Insider thread.

Chiriaev out? Andriuskevicius in?

By Chad Ford
NBA Insider
Send an Email to Chad Ford Tuesday, May 11
Updated: May 11
7:54 AM ET

# Mock Lottery, Mock Draft: See 1,716 potential lottery scenarios

Also see: Team Needs | Who's in, who's out? | Top 10 by position

The deadline for underclassmen and international players under the age of 22 to declare for the draft passed at midnight. Insider breaks down a few last-minute surprises from last night ...

# Chiriaev out? Oh how the mighty fall. What if Ivan Drago never got to fight Rocky Balboa after Rocky came to Russia and Drago claimed "I will break him?" That's pretty much what's going to happen with Russian-Canadian high school basketball "star" Ivan Chiriaev.

Just weeks after declaring that the "NBA needs Ivan Chiriaev" it looks like the 18-year-old won't be in the draft -- period. An embarrassing performance at a Canadian high school all-star game was the final nail in the coffin.

Chiriaev's agent, Bill Duffy, told Insider on Monday evening that he was canceling Chiriav's workout in Chicago next week and has advised his client to withdraw his name from the NBA draft.

All the talk about lottery guarantees, seven-figure shoe deals and 7-foot-1 point guards who shoot like Reggie Miller has ended. Chiriaev, in the matter of months, has turned from a promising international prospect into the poster boy for everything that's wrong with the NBA's obsession with tall, teenage Euros.

"The kid has gotten a really bad rap," Duffy told Insider. "He's a very talented kid, but it's also clear that he needs more playing experience before he's really ready to play in the NBA. I just think, with everything that's happened, he's better off waiting a few years before making the leap. However, I really believe he'll be an excellent NBA player."

Chiriaev is now in a bit of a quandary. He officially hired Duffy several weeks ago, eliminating any chance of playing in college. That means, according to Duffy, that Chiriaev likely will be off to Europe (Russia, to be exact) to work on his game there.

Will he really be better off in Europe as opposed to playing for Iowa State, which reportedly offered to build its entire program around him?

"Absolutely," Duffy told Insider. "He'd be better off there. There are issues of eligibility and language issues. Plus, in college, they limit on how much time he can spend with a (coach). He needs time. I don't think there's a comparison between the two for him. He'll play 55 games a year in Europe. He just needs to play."

Duffy said the plan would be to have Chiriaev play in Russia for several years. Duffy said Chiriaev needs to get stronger and gain more experience playing against a higher caliber of competition.

The fall of Chiriaev has been pretty incredible. Over the summer, several top NBA scouts traveled to Toronto to watch him work out and came back blown away with his shooting touch, ball-handling skills and athleticism for a 7-foot-1 kid. However, once the regular season began, scouts began singing a different tune. Chiriaev was not dominant against competition a level below most American high school programs. Many of the same scouts that had sung his praises in workouts walked away disappointed after watching him play.

But what really killed Chiriaev were two things. First, several weeks ago Chiriaev held a press conference announcing his intentions to declare for the draft. He took it a step further, declaring that the NBA needed him, that he would be a leader on his Hoop Summit team (he never played because of visa issue) and basically came off sounding like a cocky brat. Those who know Chiriaev claim everyone got the wrong impression, but the press conference made him a laughingstock in the press, and he struggled to shake the bad rep.

Secondly, his insistence that he was a point guard haunted him at the All-Star game. His decision to hog the ball and prove to teams he could dribble and pass -- at the expense of everything else -- really hurt his stock. Most NBA scouts don't want to see 7-footers stand around the perimeter dribbling. He's a talented ball handler for a player his size, but let's face it, there has never been a 7-foot-1 point guard in the NBA. Ivan Chiriaev wasn't going to be the first.

Martynas Andriuskevicius was a surprise late entry into the NBA draft. But will he stay in?
# Andriuskevicius in? The other last-minute shocker came via agent Herb Rudoy who told Insider, via e-mail late Monday evening, that he had entered Lithuanian Martynas Andriuskevicius's name into the draft.

Several weeks ago the feeling in Rudoy's camp was that Andriuskevicius would wait at least one more year before flirting with the NBA. However, it looks like they have changed their minds. The 7-foot-3 18-year-old was the highest ranked center on Insider's draft board and could be a top-10 pick in this year's draft.

Andriuskevicius has played for Zalgris in Lithuania for the past two seasons and has been tutored by former Blazers center Arvydas Sabonis. He's very tall and long, with a soft touch around the basket. He's an excellent passer and, over the course of the season, has started adding some meat to his frame.

However he wasn't very impressive at a recent junior tournament in Tel Aviv, Israel. While he showed a ton of skill, his body is still too weak to hold position in the paint. If that's a problem at the junior level, you can only imagine what will happen in the pros. Martynas' game is still pretty raw.

Still, his inclusion in the draft really shakes things up in the top 10. Based on his size and potential, Insider has him ranked as the top international player in this year's draft, just ahead of Latvia's Andris Biedrins.

Rudoy also confirmed that Brazilian big man Tiago Splitter is in the draft.

# Who will be out? Now that we have a pretty good idea of who the top players in the draft actually are, inevitably the speculation will begin on which guys will pull their name out before the June 17 deadline.

Insider talked to a number of scouts, GMs and agents and compiled this tentative list of players likely to return to Europe or college.

Among the most prominent players likely to return to college are Providence's Ryan Gomes, Mississippi State's Lawrence Roberts and Saint Joseph's Delonte West .

Internationally, scouts expect Kosta Perovic (because of buyout issues), Uros Slokar and Luka Bogdanovic to return to Europe this year. There's also a chance Martynas Andriuskevicius, Peja Samardziski and Tiago Splitter could withdraw if they aren't projected to go high enough in the first round.

Remember, however, that all it takes is one amazing workout or performance at the Chicago pre-draft camp to turn these bubble boys into draft stars.

Likely to drop out of draft
College: Brandon Bass, Odartey Blankson, Ryan Gomes, JaQuan Hart, Darryll Hill, Martin Iti, Marco Killingsworth, Lawrence Roberts, Nate Robinson, Harvey Thomas, Delonte West.

International: Luka Bogdanovic, Mile Ilic, Ivan Koljevic, Erazem Lorbek, Drago Pasalic, Kosta Perovic, Johan Petro, Dusan Sakota, Uros Slokar, Armands Skele, Marko Thomas.

~Peep Show hasn't appeared the past two days....it may be gone, much to my chagrin, with the new rearrangement of the Insider home page~