Sports Bog: So, uh, why are you entering the NBA draft?
GW freshman Monty Singh Harika: "It's just kind of a thing to get publicity."
Right. Well, as long as we're clear on that. Anyhow, GW freshman Monty Singh Harika, an 18-year-old, 6-foot-5, 180-pound basketball-playing fiend, has declared for the NBA draft. Before you get all distraught, GW fans, take heart: Harika hasn't hired an agent yet and plans to withdraw his name before the deadline so that he can preserve his college eligibility and attempt to walk on the team next year. Which is why, as he told me, "I'm just trying to get all my publicity now."
Right. And The Washington Post is happy to aid and abet you in this mission. So here's some version of the story, some or all of which might or might not be true or false. Harika is a Sikh, and believes he will be the first Sikh to enter the NBA draft, which is one of the reasons he wants to do this. He says he was a 290-pound offensive lineman in high school (at Shady Side Academy in Pittsburgh), and he also played for the basketball team, although he came off the bench. Or, rather, didn't come off the bench. I asked him what his best scoring output in high school was.
"Uh, two," he said. "I was really, really bad, and all of a sudden I left high school and I got really, really good."
Right. Harika says he's friends with a bunch of Colonials; that he plays in pick-up games with them in the student rec center, and also with other students; that he does fairly well in these games; that he is concentrating on basketball to the exclusion of his schoolwork; that he's a psychology major "but I'm like never in class, I'm at the gym 4-10 every day." Actually, he hoops from about 4-8, then runs a few miles and then lifts weights. He can't technically dunk a ball--he has bad knees from when he used to weigh so much--but he can grab the rim, which ought to come in handy at the next level. I asked if he might be able to compare himself to any NBA stars.
"Uh, I'm a shooter," he said. "I don't know, Ray Allen or something like that, but my role model growing up was Dennis Rodman."
Right. Harika figured out this draft thing might be a possibility after reading about the case of Curtis Heroman, a random LSU student who declared for the draft two years ago. The Gannett reporter who wrote that story quoted NBA scout Marty Blake thus: "He may be in the draft, but he won't come out of the draft." Figuring it was the proper journalistic move, I called Marty this morning, but instead spoke with his son, Ryan, another longtime scout. Sadly, they cannot comment on the prospects of early entrants at this time, not even early entrants who never scored more than two points in high school and are just trying to get some publicity. But, speaking generically of a player who was in college and never played college basketball, Ryan allowed that such a player would have but "a remote percentage" of being drafted.
I briefly talked to GW assistant Greg Collucci, who has never seen Harika play.
"I feel like if there was a guy who could play in the NBA walking around GW and working out in the Health & Wellness Center, hopefully we'd know," Collucci said.
Right. I'd think so, too. Harika, though, seemed less pessimistic. He's already e-mailed Mark Cuban, asking for a shot with the Mavs. He's hoping to get a pre-draft workout of some sort.
"They need to call me sometime soon," he said.
"Who?" I asked, while rummaging through the help-wanted ads and wondering whether the Wizards might not want to give Harika a look, since, you know, how could things really get worse at this point?
"The NBA," he said. "I'm trying to get a work out with any NBA team. I'm trying to get invited to the Orlando camp. I'm just trying to get a job. Dallas is deep enough to take me. They have a 10-man roster, they could put me as an 11th man. They're deep enough, they don't need a draft pick even, they could put it on me. And the Knicks draft anybody, they could take me. That's about it. Everybody else actually needs a draft pick."
Right. Harika's parents don't yet know about his draft plans, but he said several GW players do, as do a whole bunch of GW students, and they all think it's "like, the greatest thing." He has some more paperwork to do for the NBA, but he said he's already sent his letter in to the NBA office, and that he's officially declared. Anyhow, I figured I should ask Harika to quantify his chances of getting drafted.
"Probably, like, less than one percent," he said. "But hey, maybe if I get a little name, somebody will make a mistake or something."
Yeah. Maybe. Right.