Laron Profit is still shaking his head in disbelief. Some mornings he wakes up and just lies in bed thinking about NBA draft night. He thought he would be picked in the first round--but he fell to the second round, No. 38 overall, before the Orlando Magic chose him.
That was almost three weeks ago, and he hasn't gotten over it.
"No way there are 37 players better than me, no way," said the former Maryland player, who missed out on one of the guaranteed million dollar-plus contracts that go to first-round picks. "I hate to sound like this, sound like I'm bragging, but I know--I know--there were not 37 guys better than me in that draft.
"This is still with me and I don't know if it will ever leave me."
New Magic coach Glenn "Doc" Rivers suggested that Profit post the names of the 37 players selected before him on a wall in his home as motivation.
"I'm not going to post the names of the players, I'm going to post the names of the teams that passed on me," Profit said, "and I'm going to make them regret it."
The 6-foot-4 Profit, seen by the Magic as someone who could play point guard, shooting guard or small forward, is here for the Atlanta Summer Shootout, a tournament for rookies and select free agents and veterans of the Magic, Atlanta Hawks, Charlotte Hornets and Cleveland Cavaliers.
But in his pro debut here Thursday night, he had a miserable time.
He made 1 of 3 shots and was whistled for five fouls in nine minutes as the Magic lost to Cleveland, 99-89.
Profit shrugged it off.
"I'm disappointed I didn't play better, but it's one game, that's all," he said. "Doc told me to forget it. It's not easy coming off the bench. I'll have to get used to it and learn to get in the flow."
During this three-day tournament, Profit will share the court with several players picked ahead of him--Orlando's Corey Maggette (taken by Seattle, and then traded to the Magic), Cleveland's Trajan Langdon, Atlanta's Jason Terry, Cal Bowdler and Dion Glover and Charlotte's Baron Davis. They were first-round picks with whom Profit insists he can compete in the NBA.
"I'm not going to doubt my abilities just because NBA teams passed over me," Profit said. "I was Orlando's first pick, so I know they wanted me."
Magic General Manager John Gabriel was impressed with Profit when Maryland played in the NCAA tournament at Orlando Arena in March.
Gabriel said the club likes Profit's ability to play small forward and shooting guard, but they also will experiment with him at point. Profit never expected to land in Orlando, which didn't have a pick until No. 38.
Gabriel said that when Profit arrived for a pre-draft workout and asked where the Magic was picking and was told 38th, Profit asked, "You think I'm going to be around that long?"
"Somewhere along the way," Gabriel said, "he got the idea, or somebody told him, that he was going to be a first-round pick. I know he's upset about it, but I'm glad he's confident.
"It's hard for second-round picks to make NBA teams, but there's an opportunity here for him. There are a couple of guys at his position, but at the same time, we're in transition here."
Orlando is trying to get a more energetic, youthful team--a club that likes to run the court every night. Rivers said Profit can fit with that style.
"He can make this team, there's no doubt about it," Rivers said. "It's up to him to change some people's minds, to show them he shouldn't have dropped to the second round.
"He's mad? Good. If that makes him play better, that's great."
Profit said he'll be ready to prove himself in training camp.
"This is what you want, an opportunity," he said. "This is what I've played for. . . . to make an NBA team. I have the ability to play at this level, no matter what other people think."
CAPTION: Former Terrapin Laron Profit, right, hugs teammate Steve Francis, pickedsecond in NBA draft. Profit expected to go first round, but was picked 38th.