Every year around this time we read and listen to critiques of former Syracuse Orange basketball players trying to impress NBA scouts and front-office decision makers, and the biggest knock on mostly every former SUer is: "Can he play man-to-man defense after playing years in the 2-3 zone?"
On Thursday, former Syracuse forward James Southerland faced those questions when he worked out for the Washington Wizards and did his best to offer the correct response.
"It’s tough. Being there for four years, not playing for two years and finally getting in the mix my junior year its like every year I went into a new position," said Southerland, a 6-7 small forward with a 7-1 wingspan. "It’s definitely a stereotype, especially coming out of Syracuse (playing) 2-3 zone.
"But I’m sure people understand that we've been playing man-to-man from like the time I was born to high school then I get to college and playing 2-3. It’s the complete opposite of playing man-to-man but at the same time we've been adjusting since we've been playing the game. We adjusted to the Syracuse system. Now we adjust to the NBA system."
While, Southerland's answer may not convince all NBA general managers that he can play man-to-man defense, his agent, Mark Bartelstein, told SNY.TV the long-range shooter should expect to be selected between picks No. 20-40.
He’s done really well," Bartelstein said. "There’s teams looking at him in the first round, certainly a lot of teams looking at him in the top of the second. So he’s in that 20-40 range.
"He’s an elite shooter who’s got great size and athleticism. He’s very long and athletic. He’s gonna rebound and he can guard people and he shoots the heck out of it. He’s one of those more athletic wings who can extend the floor for you."
"He’s athletic and long," a veteran NBA scout said then. "He shoots it from all over. He would be a nice pick for someone wanting instant offense off the bench."
The NBA Draft is June 27.