By Michael Lee
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, June 24, 2010; D02
NEW YORK -- Greg Monroe tries to ignore it all. He knows nothing can be gained from the rumor mill, the mock drafts, the ramped speculation. It doesn't matter that New Jersey Nets President Rod Thorn said earlier this week that the sophomore big man from Georgetown was seriously being considered to be selected with the No. 3 overall pick in Thursday's NBA draft, or that there are reports of an unimpressive workout for the Golden State Warriors, who hold the sixth pick. He could be rising, could be falling. He couldn't care less.
"You can't pay attention to any of that," Monroe said from a Times Square hotel, the day before he officially becomes an NBA player. "The only thing I can do is stay focused and try to enjoy this time. The only people that know are the people that work in the organizations and those people keep the cards close. The only thing I can do is stay focused and try to enjoy this time."
Monroe is projected to go anywhere from third to ninth on Thursday in a draft that is heavy at the power forward position, with Georgia Tech's Derrick Favors, Kentucky's DeMarcus Cousins, Baylor's Ekpe Udoh, North Carolina's Ed Davis and Wake Forest's Al-Farouq Aminu. Monroe believes that his versatility as a 6-foot-10 forward with the ability to score and make plays for other helps distinguish him from other players but added, "Whatever any teams need, one of these big men can fill it."
Monroe was selective about the teams he worked out for, with his agent, David Falk, trying to find ideal spots for his client to land. He worked out for New Jersey, Golden State, Sacramento (which selects fifth and is looking for a scoring big man after recently dealing Spencer Hawes to Philadelphia), Utah (which selects ninth and may need insurance should Carlos Boozer depart in free agency) and Indiana (which picks 10th but also has another Falk client in former Georgetown center Roy Hibbert).
Monroe said he won't be disappointed wherever he goes. "Any team, I would love to play for," Monroe said. "That's the honest answer. I believe I can fit in anywhere. I'm going to adapt and do whatever it takes to put them in position to win."
Monroe said he has spent most of his time focused on getting stronger, adding that he was "eating a little more steaks" and improving his jump shot. Criticized for not taking over games often enough in his two seasons at Georgetown, Monroe said wouldn't shy away from pressure situations in the NBA. He also added that Coach John Thompson III's Princeton offense did not restrict him in college.
"The offense of Coach Thompson didn't stop me from shooting. I chose not to shoot when I could have," Monroe said. "People make it seem like that's all I want to do is pass, but just like anybody, I want to make that last shot. I think at this level, I'm going to have to make that shot."
Monroe said the realization that his childhood dream was closer to becoming a reality hit him when he woke up on Wednesday morning.
"It's really happening," Monroe said he told his friends and family, adding that he is anxious to put this part of the process behind him. "It's not tough at all. You can control so much. You can control how good you are, but everything is left up to the teams. They are going to make the decision that's right for them. It's just the fear of the unknown, you don't know what anybody is thinking."
But Monroe already knows the first thing that he's going to buy after shaking hands with David Stern on Thursday. "Dinner," Monroe said with a laugh.