Hansbrough works out with Bobcats

Staff WriterJune 11, 2009 

— When did "effort" become a dirty word?

It seemed that way Wednesday after a Charlotte Bobcats predraft workout that included North Carolina's Tyler Hansbrough. Coach Larry Brown said anyone with Hansbrough's motor will do well in the NBA.

Thanks, Hansbrough said, but no thanks. He's concerned that label -- "hard worker" -- trivializes anything else he offers an NBA team.

"I don't think any team is drafting me to be a practice player," Hansbrough said. "My skills get overlooked because people dub me a hard worker. I've proven myself and expanded my game a lot.

"When people get me in a gym, they're kind of surprised sometimes" by all he can do.

If Hansbrough sounds a bit defensive, it's understandable. In a sport in which players almost always turn pro early, he's the overexposed, overscrutinized college senior.

Despite winning a national championship and setting the ACC scoring record (2,872 points, 12 {+t} {+h} in NCAA history), four seasons in Chapel Hill left him open to scouts' deconstruction:

Is he big enough to play power forward? Does he have a jump shot? Can he get to the free-throw line with anything close to the frequency he did in college?

In terms of height, Hansbrough is comparable to the draft's consensus top player. Oklahoma's Blake Griffin, also a power forward, was a quarter-inch taller than Hansbrough (6 feet 81/2 in stocking feet) and a quarter-inch shorter in wing-span (6-111/4).

Hansbrough's situation is similar to that of another former ACC star, Wake Forest's Josh Howard. He also spent four years in college and was seen as a reliably good/nothing great prospect. He lasted to the end of the 2003 first round, going to the Dallas Mavericks.

Howard ended up an All-Star.

"Our league has a tendency to talk about what guys can't do. That's silly -- particularly with a kid like him," Bobcats coach Larry Brown said.

So what can Hansbrough do at the pro level?

"He gets extra possessions [because] he hustles. Big guys in our league don't like to block out, they don't run on every play. They don't rebound every ball. If you have the mentality to do those things, then you have a chance," Brown said. "He's a much better athlete than most people think and he's obviously been well-coached. And he's used to winning and doing the right things. So he'll be fine."

The Bobcats' No.12 pick seems a little high for Hansbrough (typically ranked 18 {+t} {+h} to 26 {+t} {+h} in this draft), but their backup power-forward spot is unsettled.

"Every day he comes to practice, it's going to elevate our practices," Brown said, when asked to project Hansbrough as a Bobcat. "He's going to get better. I don't think he's even gotten close to where he can be, and we all know he'll work.

"We need athleticism and we need size, so I'm sure we'll look at him very carefully."

Noteworthy: This was one of seven workouts on Hansbrough's schedule. He has been to New Orleans, Chicago and Detroit, and he will audition in Utah, Portland and Indiana.

The Bobcats also auditioned N.C. State's Ben McCauley. This was the first time McCauley got to know Hansbrough, nicknamed "Psycho T" for his game intensity.

"You spend four years at N.C. State thinking you have to hate Carolina and hate Duke," McCauley said. "You never got to know [your rivals]. He's a normal guy, just like I am."

Asked about restricted free agents, Bobcats general manager Rod Higgins said it's a foregone conclusion former Tar Heel Raymond Felton will get a qualifying offer (about $5.5million for next season).

Higgins said the team is still deciding whether to tender a qualifier to Sean May ($3.6million-plus).

rbonnell@charlotteobserver.com or 704-358-5129

News & Observer is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service