Blatche's Debut Impresses Wizards

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By Ivan Carter
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, July 16, 2005

An incredible baseline dunk by Boston rookie Gerald Green generated much buzz recently at the Reebok Vegas Summer League.

The Wizards' rookie second-round pick, Andray Blatche, didn't provide a definitive breathtaking highlight during his summer debut, but the 6-foot-11, 235-pound forward, who played at South Kent Prep School in Connecticut last season, did impress Wizards Coach Eddie Jordan with his solid play.

Blatche, who was taken by the Wizards with the 49th overall pick in last month's draft, averaged 9.5 points and 6.5 rebounds per game while shooting a solid 43 percent from the field.

The Wizards concluded summer league play Thursday with a record of 2-4.

"The thing that stood out to me is that Andray seems to have an excellent feel for the game," Jordan said. "He passes well, he defends well, he can step out and shoot the ball. He competes on the glass. He doesn't back down on the defensive end. Those are the kinds of things you like to see from a young player getting his first taste of competition at this level."

Blatche played shooting guard, small forward and a little power forward, and impressed the coaching staff with his ability to quickly pick up instruction and apply what he was hearing on the bench to what he was doing on the court.

"The main thing I'm trying to do is play hard and try to learn from every situation because it's all new," Blatche said. "This is my first taste of what pro ball is like, so I'm just trying to pick it up as fast as I can and get myself ready for camp."

While Blatche impressed, second-year center Peter John Ramos continues to be a work in progress. The 7-3 Ramos averaged 5.2 points and 3.2 rebounds per game while shooting 32.4 percent. Ramos, who played in six regular season games as a rookie, still is developing a set of go-to post moves and sometimes gets out of position on the defensive end of the floor.

"He struggled a little bit more than we would have liked," Jordan said. "The important thing for him is to keep getting playing time so he can continue developing his basketball skills. He's shown some good things. He has great size. He runs well. We're going to keep working with him."

One of the most intriguing developments during the summer league was the play of guards Gerald Fitch and Donnell Taylor. Fitch, a point guard, led the Wizards in scoring (13.4 points per game) while Taylor, a undrafted rookie out of Alabama-Birmingham, averaged 12.7 points per game while moving between both guard spots.

Fitch was one of the final cuts at the end of training camp last fall while Taylor could compete for a roster spot when camp opens in October.

"There are going to be some opportunities for some of these guys," Jordan said. "You look at a guy like Gerald, he was a whisker away from making our team last year, so it's important that all of these guys take advantage of the summer and come into camp ready to compete."

Wizards Notes: For salary cap purposes, the trade that sent Kwame Brown to the Lakers in exchange for Chucky Atkins and Caron Butler also included former Maryland guard Laron Profit.

Profit, who started 17 games while playing parts of three seasons with the Wizards, was an unrestricted free agent and signed a one-year, non-guaranteed contract to be included in the deal. . . .

A source close to restricted free agent guard Steve Blake, also a former Terrapin, said that the acquisition of Atkins opens the door for Blake to sign elsewhere. Blake was Gilbert Arenas's primary backup at point guard each of the last two seasons, but that role is expected to be filled by Atkins. . . .

The Wizards still plan to meet with veteran free agent forward Donyell Marshall this weekend, according to a team source. The Wizards could offer Marshall their mid-level exception of around $5.1 million. Marshall averaged 11.5 points and 6.6 rebounds per game last season with Chicago and Toronto.


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