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There has been talk that Aguirre might be passed over until the eighth or ninth pick, and although that now seems unlikely, Aguirre is prepared for whatever comes. "My whole life I've never been a problem person," he says, drawing himself up to his full height, such as it is. "But if that's the rap on me, and if I have to pay for it now, then I'll pay for it now.
"If I'm chosen as late as eighth in the draft, it will hurt me moneywise on my first contract. But if I turn out to be the player I'm supposed to be, there are going to be a lot of general managers in trouble. And then it's going to hurt somebody else moneywise. Permanently."
What follows is an evaluation by Dallas Maverick Scout Richie O'Connor of other top prospects in next week's draft.
Isiah Thomas (G, 6'1", 180 pounds, Indiana) There's an old NBA axiom that if good centers are hard to find, then good point guards are even harder. Thomas is more than a good point guard, he's a great one. He's one of those gifted playmakers who can dominate the entire flow of a game, a rarity for a small man in the NBA. He's the first guard since Kansas City's Phil Ford who seems capable of creating his team's tempo, distributing the ball on the break, reading defenses and realizing who's hot and making sure that player gets the ball. Moreover, Thomas is a much better shooter than Ford; in fact, he's a better shooter than any point guard currently in the league.
Buck Williams (F, 6'8", 230. Maryland) Buck is your basic 10-10-10 man, meaning that over the next 10 years he'll average at least 10 points and 10 rebounds a game. Potentially, he's another Paul Silas, though he has much more natural ability. As a power forward, he's a relentless rebounder. His offensive game seemed limited in college, but that's attributable to Coach Lefty Driesell's helter-skelter offense; so many times last season Williams had great position inside and the Maryland players couldn't or wouldn't get him the ball. Yet he never sulked, which is why the pros love him. Like Silas, he has a great attitude. All he wants to do is win.
Rolando Blackman (G, 6'6", 190, Kansas State) A perplexing player. One game he's absolutely terrific, a real Otis Birdsong type, the next game he shows very little. He does possess the size and strength and shot to be an effective scoring guard. He doesn't penetrate much, and he often overdribbles.
Steve Johnson (C, 6'10½", 225, Oregon State) An iffy prospect. In the lane he has an excellent variety of offensive moves—hooks, turnarounds, up-and-unders. He runs well, but he lacks aggressiveness and his rebounding is atrocious; the only rebounds he gets are those that fall into his hands. His transitional game from defense to offense is good, but his transition the other way is weak. He's consistently in foul trouble, largely because of stupid fouls. Just once you'd love to see him commit a foul of authority, like smashing a guy as he drives the lane. The worry is he might be another LaRue Martin, Dana Lewis or Tom Riker. Remember them?
Al Wood (F-G, 6'6", 187, North Carolina) Along with having a great attitude and a winning college background, Wood is a superb athlete. He can play both small forward and big guard. He's sound fundamentally, plays good team defense and hits the 20- to 25-footer. Yet his most admirable quality often tends to be overlooked: At 6'6" he can rebound with the big boys. Because he's from North Carolina, everyone immediately compares him with former Tar Heel Walter Davis, now with Phoenix. Like Davis, Wood has a great jump shot, but he's a better penetrator and a better creator, mainly because he drives more.
Frank Johnson (G, 6'1", 175, Wake Forest) All year long the word was Johnson was too small. Baloney. At 6'1" Johnson is versatile enough to play both point and shooting guard, a la San Antonio's James Silas. He has a good background, having played in the tough ACC, and he's physical, extremely quick and, like his brother, Eddie, who plays for Atlanta, he can fly downcourt, stop and hit a 20-footer. After Isiah, the best point guard available.
Orlando Woolridge (F, 6'9", 215, Notre Dame) For a big man, Wool-ridge is an exceptional ball handler, almost guardlike. He has a good eye from the corners, he can fill a lane on the break and he understands the game, meaning he not only can see a play develop but can also make it. His biggest weakness is rebounding. The hope is he'll turn out to be a better pro than a collegian because he'll be out from under the Digger Phelps system. Then again, except for Adrian Dantley, no Irish player from the Phelps era has fared exceptionally well in the pros. Hmmm.