During four seasons at Bucknell, center Mike Muscala visited Washington and its neighboring cities many times. Among the highlights were games against American at Bender Arena, including a last-second basket to beat the Eagles this past season, and multiple trips to Annapolis to face Navy.
Muscala’s girlfriend also is from the D.C. area, and following his pre-draft workout with the Washington Wizards on Friday morning, the two-time Patriot League player of the year spoke about the District with as much civic pride as if he were an employee of the city’s tourism office.
“I actually love the area,” Muscala said. “I got a chance to walk around yesterday. I went to the natural history museum. I saw the White House for my first time, and we were going to the Nationals game, but it rained.”
Whether the only player in Patriot League history to be named regular season and tournament MVP twice each is available when the Wizards pick early in the second round of the June 27 NBA draft is another story. Washington owns the No. 3 overall pick as well as the eighth and 24th selections in Round 2.
Muscala, according to multiple draft Web sites, is a high second-round prospect. In May, Muscala participated in the NBA combine in Chicago, where he had interviews with four teams. Following the final pre-draft workout of the week for the Wizards, Muscala spoke with team president Ernie Grunfeld and other front office personnel as well as members of the coaching staff.
Muscala was among six players to work out Friday. The others were center A.J. Matthews (Farmingdale), forwards C.J. Aiken (Saint Joseph’s) and Ella Ellis (Army) and guards Junior Cadougan (Marquette) and Lamont Jones (Iona).
Muscala finished as Bucknell’s career scoring leader, and his versatility as a shooter may be his most attractive asset at the moment for an NBA team.
“I think initially offensively much more,” Muscala said when asked where he could make the most immediate impact as a professional, “because I have to get stronger to be a better defensively. But I think for me I’m a really good team defender because I talk well. I think that’s one thing our coaches at Bucknell really stressed, so I think that’s something I can bring right away.”
The No. 2 all-time rebounder and shot blocker in Bucknell history has auditioned for four teams and indicated he could participate in at least eight additional pre-draft workouts.
During the portion of Friday’s workout that was open to reporters, Muscala took part in fast-break drills. Getting players up the court quickly in transition has been a focal point for the Wizards with speedy point guard John Wall running the offense, and Muscala said he felt comfortable with that philosophy despite a slower pace in college.
Bucknell was at its best in the half court thanks to crisp ball movement. At 6 feet 11, Muscala was able to post up smaller Patriot League opposition while also getting free beyond the three-point line in those sets.
“While we played half court, our coaches stressed running the floor,” Muscala said. “So I think I run the floor really well for my size. I may not necessarily play huge above the rim, but I think I’m really agile for my size.”
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