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Penney stands out at pre-NBA draft camp
Waikato Times; Hamilton, New Zealand; Jun 19, 2003; ANDERSON, Ian;


WHITE MEN can't jump, but the Kiwi can fly.

That could be the opinion of a host of NBA scouts after New Zealand basketballer Kirk Penney wowed them with some impressive athletic feats at a recent pre-NBA draft camp in Chicago.

Penney, who recently completed four outstanding seasons with Wisconsin in the US college competition, recorded the fastest times in speed and agility tests at the camp that featured most of the best draft prospects from the US and overseas.

Players were tested for strength (bench press), speed ( 3/4 court sprint), lane agility (obstacle course), jumping ability (vertical jump) and body fat (skin fold) with Penney finishing fourth overall, ahead of big names like Dwayne Wade (14th), Carmelo Anthony (38th), Darko Milicic (41st), T J Ford (44th) and Nick Collison (54th).

In heading the sprint and agility tests, Penney will have greatly enhanced his chances of being drafted on June 27 (NZ time) as a number of scouts were understood to have relegated him due to concerns over his speed and movement.

Penney was due to work out with NBA side Houston Rockets this week.

He has also received support from writer Brian McCormick.

"In last year's World Championship debacle, the USA was near the top in almost every single offensive and defensive category except one: shooting percentage," McCormick wrote.

"And, while some of the NBA's greats failed to get the job done, finishing sixth, New Zealand's Kirk Penney was helping the Kiwis to an improbable third (sic) place finish, enough, one would think, to lead some GM to look past his average size and realise the kid can play."

The Tall Blacks lost the playoff for third at the world champs to Germany but Penney averaged 17 points throughout the tournament.

"And, while potential and dunks put fans in the stands, players win championships; players like the game's most fundamentally skilled player (Tim Duncan) or the game's best all-around guard (Kobe Bryant) or its best clutch shooter (Steve Kerr) or skilled role player (Malik Rose).

"I wonder which astute GM will make the second-round pick that puts his team over the top, a pick like the Spurs' Malik Rose (Marquette's Robert Jackson), Manu Ginobili (Wisconsin's Penney) or Tony Parker (St Joseph's Jameer Nelson) . . . the players who do not jump out of the gym, or leave the average fan gushing with excitement, but are players who are difference-makers on winning teams, players who make plays and win games, despite their almost anonymous, pre-playoff status," McCormick wrote.

Penney has not registered in most "mock" drafts by experts but following the release of the Chicago tests, leading website is now projecting Penney as number 45 pick in the draft, bound for the Chicago Bulls.