Minnesota star eyes NBA

Vincent Grier led the Big Ten in steals during both of his years at Minnesota.

Robert Mews

With versatile players like Gonzaga’s Adam Morrison, Washington’s Brandon Roy and Italy’s Andrea Bargnani in abundance for tonight’s NBA Draft, it’s possible that former Minnesota swingman Vincent Grier could be left behind on teams’ draft boards.

The annual, two-round NBA Draft is at 6 p.m. CST today in New York City.

Grier, if drafted, probably will be a late second-round pick, according to Gophers assistant coach Bill Walker.

“The second round is a lot harder to predict than the

first round,” he said. “Will he have the potential to get drafted? Yes. Do I see him getting drafted? I’m not sure.”

Walker said players with Grier’s size, (6-feet, 4-inches), are hard to distinguish from each other when teams start looking at prospects for the second round.

And as of late, more teams have been getting so-called “steals” in the second round of the draft.

The Milwaukee Bucks drafted Michael Redd out of Ohio State in the second round of the 2000 NBA Draft, and Dallas Mavericks forward Josh Howard also was a late pick. Both have become solid professional players.

Walker called Grier a “poor man’s Manu Ginobili.” Ginobili was drafted in the second round and later blossomed into one of the NBA’s better shooting guards.

Walker added that like Ginobili, Grier is “a left-handed kind of slasher that’s improving his outside shot, but great in transition.”

Walker said that the Houston Rockets were in contact with Grier and that he worked out for them twice.

The Rockets did not want to comment on specific player

workout information before the draft.

“If there is a team out there that likes Vince, they probably want to keep it to themselves,” Walker said. “Because they might think that they might get a second-round steal.”

Grier didn’t return phone calls seeking comment on specific workouts.

His agent, Bobby Fletcher of BDA Sports Management, whose clients include two-time NBA MVP Steve Nash and All-Star Tracy McGrady, said players are typically hard to track down before the draft because teams like to conduct last-minute workouts before making a final decision.

The Timberwolves also brought Grier in to workout.

The Timberwolves’ Director of Player Personnel Zarko Durisic said Grier has the body size and ball handling skills to play in the NBA. But Durisic questioned his shooting ability.

“Something he really needs to work on is shooting,” Durisic said.

Head coach Dwane Casey had a similar opinion of Grier’s shot, saying he needs to develop it in order to make the defense honor his ability to drive to the basket.

But Casey noted that Grier’s athleticism, and especially his defense, is what could make him a second-round pick.

“He’s athletic enough,” Casey said. “He can also defend. At the end of the day, that’s his gift.”