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Pacers work out potential draft prospects

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

By CLIFF BRUNT

AP Sports Writer

INDIANAPOLIS -- Stanley Burrell wants to help rescue "his" Indiana Pacers.

The Indianapolis native was one of four point guards who participated in a pre-draft workout Wednesday at Conseco Fieldhouse.

While attending Xavier, Burrell watched as his beloved Pacers struggled through back-to-back losing seasons.

"I'm an Indiana guy," he said. "I'd love to come back here and play for my team. Either way it goes, I'll still be rooting for these guys."

Burrell said the team would be better with a healthy Jermaine O'Neal. The former All-Star forward missed much of last season with a knee injury and could be traded.

"I'm looking forward to him coming back at full strength, because when he's full strength, he's one of the top guys in the league at his position," Burrell said. "Once they get that (O'Neal) back and have good guys that have good character, winning ways will definitely come back. I hope to be able to fill that role."

Nebraska center Aleks Maric and Kansas center Sasha Kaun also were evaluated on Wednesday as the Pacers prepared for the June 26 draft.

Burrell's competition Wednesday included Ohio State's Jamar Butler, North Carolina's Ty Lawson and Texas' D.J. Augustin. Any of them could take over for the oft-injured Jamaal Tinsley next season, especially since coach Jim O'Brien has said he's worried about Tinsley's lack of durability.

Butler is familiar with Indianapolis talent. He played with Greg Oden and Mike Conley at Ohio State.

Conley took over for Butler at point guard for one season before leaving for the NBA and being drafted by the Memphis Grizzlies. Butler returned to point guard last season and played well.

Butler has mixed feelings about the time spent playing with Conley.

"It helped me and it hurt me," he said. "I got moved off the ball for a year and Conley ran the point. Then, it helped me because I got to play the two spot. Now, I'm a combo guard. I can go either way."

Butler was the MVP at the Portsmouth Invitational in April, but a hamstring injury kept him out of most of the pre-draft camp in Orlando last week.

"I got set back a little bit when I got the injury last Wednesday," he said. "There's nothing I can do about that. I'm just going to have to go to these workouts and do the best that I can do."

The guards went through shooting, 1-on-1 and 2-on-2 drills and practiced pick-and-rolls. Augustin said he wanted to leave an impression with O'Brien.

"I wanted to show that I can come in and be a leader, run a team, whatever they need me to do on the floor," he said. "Backing someone up or just coming in and leading the team -- I'm willing to do that, and that's what I'm trying to show them."

He quickly learned what O'Brien expects out of a point guard.

"He wants you to push the ball and be an extension of a coach on the floor and lead the team."

When told that many mock drafts predicted he'd end up a Pacer, Augustin was surprised.

"I don't really pay attention to mock drafts, I just try to stay focused and do my job," he said. "It would be great to come in here."

Augustin said he's not picky about where he goes.

"It's always been my dream just to make it to the NBA," he said.



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