Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Claggett Will Watch the Draft - and Hope Former Slu Star Was Up/down in NBA Tryouts

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Claggett Will Watch the Draft - and Hope Former Slu Star Was Up/down in NBA Tryouts

Article excerpt

He cut his teeth on the housing projects pavement of Madison, Ill. He aspired only to the greatness he saw in his older brothers and a hard-working single mother. He has an honorary key to his hometown.

But his neighbors in small Venice, Ill., would gladly welcome Erwin Claggett any time, anywhere with just a knock on the door.

Claggett will watch the National Basketball Association draft tonight without pageantry, without guarantee, without firm plans. Yet like his friends and neighbors in Madison and Venice, at St. Louis University and throughout the area, Claggett will watch with a little bit of hope.

"From my freshman year at SLU, I never thought I would have a chance to play in the NBA or even do these things," he said. "That's just why you want to work hard and stay humble."

He collected a case full of awards and praise for his four seasons with the Billikens. Claggett hopes his basketball work soon will take a dramatic turn for the profitable.

"Some guys are telling me I might get drafted, some are saying I might not," Claggett said. "Some of the ones who are saying I'm not going to be, they want me to come in for a tryout camp after the draft. All I can do is wait."

Claggett appears on the NBA's list of the top 114 prospects for this season's draft, which will be held in Toronto for all of TNT's cable audience to see. The list shows the 6-foot-1, 190-pound Claggett as one of the dozen smallest prospects and comments on his "great stroke from long range."

No one seems to question his ability to hit the 3-point shot, even from an NBA arc (22 feet) more than two feet longer than the college distance (19 feet 9 inches).

But if Claggett ever sees himself on an NBA trading card, it will mean he can do things other than make shots from any seat in the gym. The NBA requires proof of certain skills before handing over millions of dollars. That's why Claggett attended camps in Portsmouth, Va., and Phoenix.

"I left Portsmouth feeling pretty good," Claggett said. "Some people said my stock went soaring after that. I left Phoenix not feeling as good. I still had a good camp, but they had me doing different things there. …

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