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Drew Ellis covers Oakland University basketball for The Oakland Press. His news and notes keep you up to date with Golden Grizzlies men's basketball.

Friday, July 1, 2011

First week in the pros for Kito: Hurry up and wait

If you're reading this, you already know the midnight deadline for a new collective bargaining agreement between the NBA's players and owners has passed. (To be honest, I knew that before you because I stay up late.) Anticipating the stalemate, the Atlanta Hawks wasted no time in working out former Oakland center Keith Benson.
Being light and undersized for the pros was the biggest area for improvement noted by many as Benson entered the draft. The Hawks put him to work Monday in a camp for free agents. (Benson was their only draft pick because the Hawks swapped their first-round choice last season). Despite negative scouting reports that said Benson lacked tenacity, the Hawks were surprised to get him at No. 48, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution. Hawks coach Larry Drew reinforced what Oakland coach Greg Kampe has said about the ability of an NBA team to bulk up a player like Benson.
“You see that all the time,” Drew told the AJC. “They get in the weight room more and get on a special diet. I’ve seen a number of players that come in a little underweight, and good programs allow them to get out there and compete.”
Drew said the Hawks plan to take a very aggressive stance on defense next season. Who better to help than a noted shot-blocker and defender of the year in his conference?
“Going into the draft and looking at the free-agent market, if we are going to be one of the top teams in the (Eastern Conference) we have got to get better defensively,” Drew said. “And what better way to get better than to bring in a shot blocker?”
Benson appears to make up a burgeoning Hawks front court along with Josh Smith and Al Horford where he could move to the 4 position, a better natural fit. But there has been an insinuation that Benson's arrival in A-town could actually mean the end for Smith there.
It's likely to be a while before we hear anything else about anyone in the NBA. Day 1 of the lockout is here.

Thanks to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, where I'm sure we'll all get much of our Kito coverage from now on.

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