WKU hoops: McDonald on recently departed players’ pro prospects

21 06 2011

Last week, we spoke to former Western Kentucky forward Steffphon Pettigrew as he was preparing for a tryout with the Memphis Grizzlies in preparation for the upcoming NBA Draft (which is Thursday) and a chance to begin a pro career – whether it be in the U.S. or overseas – after that.

Former WKU forward Sergio Kerusch has also been actively attempting to catch the eye of NBA scouts, and is currently participating in Memphis’ Bluff City Classic – which features plenty of top-level college players and also a few current NBA players as well.

WKU coach Ken McDonald spoke to the media Tuesday about the possible futures his departed seniors from all of his departed seniors from a season ago.

“We’ve kept in touch with all those guys and have made sure that they know that anything we can do with our connections or resources – whether it be NBA or overseas – we’re there for them. All of them are working really hard to stay in shape, but there are a lot of question marks this offseason with the (possible NBA) lockout. So they have to monitor that. It’ll be interesting to see how that trickles over. If there is a lockout, more guys might head overseas and take more jobs.

“It’s sort of a wait and see situation – they’re going to tryouts, some of them are playing in open gyms – I even talked the other day with (former guard Orlando Mendez-Valdez) to see if we could help him with anything. We’re just trying to continue to help those guys any way we can.”

With Pettigrew, specifically, the former WKU power forward has been working as a guard for pro scouts – McDonald on whether or not he feels Pettigrew can play that spot at the next level:

“We always tried to work with him on his skill level, encouraged him to handle the ball and shoot it more. For us, because he played so hard and was so strong, we had a mismatch with him at the four or the five and that served him well while he was with us.

“But he’s always had the skills to be a guy that can play on the perimeter. And I think now that there’s such a size difference between college and the NBA, he’ll have to make the adjustment and go to an even higher level with his ball-handling and playmaking ability at the guard spot. And I know he’ll put every single ounce he has into that – and I know everyone he’s working out for is seeing that.”

On whether or not he feels like the program will have produced a few more professional players before the summer’s out:

“I really do. I think they’ll find a place at some level where they’re making a good living and representing themselves and our program well. I wouldn’t be surprised to see (Pettigrew and Kerusch) at a very high level. I know the talent is there, I know the work ethic is there and I know there’s a passion.

“Both of those guys have specialties also – Sergio rebounds the ball so well and he has a touch for finishing and scoring. And if you’ve ever been around Pettigrew, you know about his heart. And you can’t teach that – and there’s a place for that on a lot of levels of basketball.”

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