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News » BUCKS Blair could bolster low post Scouts like his work ethic

BUCKS Blair could bolster low post Scouts like his work ethic

BUCKS  Blair could bolster low post  Scouts like his work ethic
Chicago - DeJuan Blair believes it's his time to play in the pros.

So the Pittsburgh sophomore tossed aside his fast-food habits and lost 40 pounds in the last three weeks - 40 pounds - and weighed in at 275 on Thursday at the National Basketball Association draft combine.

He also measured 6-foot-6?, which could cause teams some concern about playing him as an undersized power forward. But he has a 7-foot, 2-inch wingspan and a work ethic that league scouts and general managers love.

So it's no surprise the Milwaukee Bucks have more than a passing interest in Blair, who could fill a major need at the power forward spot and might be available when the Bucks' No. 10 slot comes up June 25.

It seems highly unlikely that restricted free agent Charlie Villanueva will return at power forward, due to financial considerations.

And Blair would give the Bucks a physical low-post presence that could provide a nice complement to 7-foot center Andrew Bogut.

In fact, Blair believes he is the best offensive rebounder in the draft and possibly the best rebounder, period, with apologies to No. 1 pick Blake Griffin of Oklahoma.

"I don't think anybody was better than me in this class, at all," Blair said. "Something about that ball gets me excited, so go get it."

Blair welcomes comparisons with Charles Barkley and said he hopes to emulate current NBA players Paul Millsap, Craig Smith and Glen "Big Baby" Davis, all outstanding rebounders despite being undersized.

Blair worked out for the Phoenix Suns earlier this week and weighed 289 pounds, so he lost 14 pounds in about three days.

"I'm not going to let that (weight) be an issue," Blair said. "That's not going to bring me down. I like the way I feel. I'm addicted to the weight room now.

"My nutritionist is on me hard - no more candy bars or fried chicken. It's a high-protein diet and low carbs, and I can stay in shape that way."

The recent success of Utah's Millsap and Houston Rockets forward and Milwaukee native Carl Landry could help Blair, one of the few legitimate power forwards in the lottery portion of the draft.

Griffin will be the No. 1 pick, although he said Thursday he was not totally convinced he would wind up with the Los Angeles Clippers, who hold the top choice but could trade it.

Other power forwards expected to be lottery picks include 6-10 junior Jordan Hill of Arizona, who could be a top-five selection; and 6-9 sophomore James Johnson of Wake Forest.

Blair said he interviewed with four teams Wednesday at the combine - the Bucks , San Antonio, Indiana and Toronto. The Raptors, who have the No. 9 pick, also are said to be extremely interested in Blair.

Bucks assistant general manager Jeff Weltman traveled to Bradenton, Fla., earlier this month to watch Blair and other prospects work out at the IMG Academy.

Blair confirmed he will work out for the Bucks in June, in addition to several other teams, including Indiana, Sacramento, Oklahoma City, Charlotte, New Jersey and Chicago.

"I think I'm ready for it," he said of making the leap from beast of the Big East to the NBA. "It's going to be great. If your dreams are in front of you, why not go and reach for it. I reached and grabbed it, and I'm holding on tight.

"I felt like it was the right move. A lot of people were mad, but they're not in my shoes."

Blair admits his mid-range game needs improvement and said he has been working with David Thorpe at IMG to improve his post-up skills.

"It's coming along, just progressing day by day," Blair said. "It's going to take time, to adjust to my new shot and try to get rolling. It's checked twice (on a to-do list). I'm trying to get my body right and get my game right."

The Bucks also are certain to look closely at point guards, including UCLA's Jrue Holiday, Syracuse's Jonny Flynn and North Carolina's Ty Lawson. The Bucks have some uncertainty at that position, after Luke Ridnour experienced an injury-plagued season and Ramon Sessions improved dramatically in his second year.

But Sessions is a restricted free agent this summer and could receive offers from other teams.

Holiday and Lawson have workouts scheduled in Milwaukee, and a date will be set with Flynn.

The Bucks will conduct 18 player interviews in Chicago, concluding Friday afternoon.

Copyright 2009, Journal Sentinel Inc. All rights reserved. (Note: This notice does not apply to those news items already copyrighted and received through wire services or other media.)

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Added: May 30, 2009


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