This year, six players from the prep ranks declared for early entry into the
NBA Draft. Only one however, decided to showcase his skills in front of NBA scouts, coaches, and executives at the NBA Pre-Draft Camp on the campus of Moody Bible Institute last week. Who was this brave soul? None other than James Lang, the talented big man from Birmingham (AL) Central Park Christian High School.
With an archaic NCAA rule preventing the participation of high school players for more than 48 hours without compromising their collegiate eligibility, the majority of the preps who declared for the draft stayed away from the proceedings at Moody. But Lang - who is now definitely in the draft since he signed with an agent, sacrificing his college eligibility - decided to attend the pre-draft camp to silence any doubters.
How did Lang feel he fared at camp? "Pretty good," he said. "I've been running up and down the floor really good, keeping my head in the game and hustling hard."
Lang wasn't nervous at all at the camp, despite the fact he was the only high
school player participating. How intense was the competition?
"It's kind of tough," said Lang. "But really you can't let it get to you. I
just need to play my game and dominate like I'm supposed to, so I don't worry
about anybody else."
Lang impressed observers in many ways. The first way, literally, was when he
stepped foot in the gym. Lang arrived in Chicago looking svelte and trim -
especially to those who last saw him at the EA Sports Roundball Classic a
couple of months ago. Although he could still stand to lose some more weight
(he officially weighed in at 316 pounds), he did reportedly drop over 40 pounds
since his last appearance in the Windy City.
What was Lang's method to losing all those extra pounds? "Running a lot, drinking a lot of water, and eating the right food," he said.
But other than his appearance, Lang's performance in games was solid as well.
Through three games, Lang averaged 10.3 points and 5.0 rebounds in just over 15
minutes a contest. He shot 10-for-16 from the field and a sizzling 11-for-12
from the free throw line, chipping in with three blocked shots and did not turn
the ball over once all tournament. Lang did all of his damage inside, using
his large frame to clear out room in the post, and his long arms (his wingspan
measured out to 7 feet and 6 inches) to finish plays at the basket. Many times
Lang was simply in the right place at the right time on the offensive glass and
subsequent putback. He ran the floor well and in general, played well in the
eyes of everyone on hand.
The next step for Lang will be his individual workouts. Prior to Chicago, Lang
worked out with the Los Angeles Lakers, and upcoming are workouts with the New
Jersey Nets and the Miami Heat, as well as likely several others.
While he has fully committed to making the NBA - first round or second round,
he simply wants to be selected - Lang still had a college favorite. When asked
if he still had the chance to go to college who he would choose, Lang responded
"Louisville," he said.
But the NBA is the path Lang chose to take, and he is certainly not looking
back. And the way he played at the Chicago Pre-Draft Camp, he made long
strides in getting himself there.
Jed Tai is a Senior Writer with Hoopville.com