We got a chance to catch up with some of the 2008 NBA Draft’s top prospects before heading over to Madison Square Garden to watch the draft drama unfold. Check out how this year’s crop of future stars compared (and faired) on the big day.
Pictured from left, USC guard OJ Mayo, LSU forward Anthony Randolph and Memphis point guard Derrick Rose.
Shooting Guard | 6-4, 200 | Age: 20
Hometown: Huntington, W.V.
Built stocky, in a good, lean way, Mayo has an NBA-ready body. He’s thicker than D.J. Augustin, even though he’s a hair shorter than Derrick Rose. Working with Tim Grover, who used to train Michael Jordan (and that worked out pretty well for His Airness, didn’t it?), Mayo incorporated air-resistance machines to improve his jumping ability. “We did conditioning, weight lifting, and drill work,” says Mayo. Working with established NBA stars like Dwyane Wade, Mayo has learned the importance of proper diet. “Your body is a temple,” he says. “You have to take care of it.”
Someone must have gotten into Mayo’s ear at some point and coached him through some solid media training, because he sounds very composed. Helps to have been an SI cover boy at 14 years old. Headed to Memphis as part of a blockbuster trade involving Kevin Love, Mayo will be the first option on that team, along with Rudy Gay.
Overheard on press row: By far, the sharpest dressed player of the night, rocking a three-piece suit, brown and cream wing tips and a pair of glasses. Didn’t seem to be a great fit in Minnesota, makes a bit more sense in Memphis.
Point Guard | 6-3, 196 | Age: 19
Hometown: Chicago, Ill.
Widely considered the 1 or 1-A prospect in the draft (depending how you feel about Michael Beasley), Rose went first to his hometown Chicago Bulls. “A dream come true,” he says. He prepped for the draft out in LA, going at it with Russell Westbrook, who surprised some people by going fourth overall to the Sonics. Now that he’s set to be a pro, Rose will have to make some changes to his diet. Toughest food to give up? “Candy,” says Rose, without hesitation. “All kinds.”
Overheard on press row: Easy choice for the Bulls, but what happens to Kirk Hinrich now? Also, Rose is the shortest No. 1 draft pick since Allen Iverson in 1996.
Power Forward | 6-10, 255 | Age: 19
Hometown: Lake Oswego, Ore.
Despite his leadership, great production, and killer outlet passes, Kevin Love wasn’t getting the right kind of love leading up to the first mock drafts a month or two ago. Carrying extra weight around his midsection, a few GM’s might have questioned his athleticism. But Love’s whipped himself into shape. “I got on the Sunfare diet and dropped 15 lbs,” says Love. The diet consists of three snacks and three meals per day, loading him up with fruits and veggies at every meal. “It’s very filling,” he says. “I never eat all the food.”
He’s been training with Joe Abunassar at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California, trying to build an NBA-ready physique. “I’d head to the gym about 8, 8:30,” says Love, “and put 5, 6 hours in.” Looks like it’s paying off. Love went 5th to the Grizzlies, but was later traded in a package to the Timberwolves for OJ Mayo.
Overheard on Press Row: Kevin McHale must see some of himself in Love. Both play old-man ball, using body position and their IQ’s to dominate. But now that Love’s dropped some weight, he’ll be able to move around easier, too. Love him with Al Jefferson on that front line.
Power Forward | 6-8, 239 | Age: 19
Kansas State (Freshman)
Hometown: Fitchburg, Mass.
Can Michael Beasley take his super-human freshman year at Kansas State and parlay it into a long NBA career? We’ll see. Beasley’s been training with Alan Stein and David Atkins, working on general conditioning and on-court skills. But unlike Rose and the other prospects, he’s not concerned with his diet. “I eat pretty much the same things,” says Beasley. Leading up to the draft, he’s had to do a lot of weird lifting exercises he’s not used to. But were sit-ups really the weirdest? “I had to hang upside down,” he says. “Not fun.” After rumors swirled that the Heat were doing everything they could to get OJ Mayo, Beasley ended up being the No. 2 overall pick in the draft.
Overheard on press row: Pat Riley’s questions about Beasley’s maturity are valid. When asked if he was thinking about meeting with agents or lawyers about investment advice, Beasley looked flustered and confused.