Monday, June 1, 2009

Express News: Person of interest: Ben Woodside

By Jeff McDonald

In a sense, May was an uncharacteristically slow month for the Spurs. For the first time in a long time, there were no playoff games for them to play, having suffered their first first-round ouster since 2000 when Dallas beat them in five games.

In another sense, May was as busy as ever for the Spurs, with a steady stream of prospects darkening the doors of their practice facility for pre-draft tryouts.

The NBA draft is June 25. Between now and then, we here at Courtside will take a look -- in no particular order -- at some of the players the Spurs have auditioned and could be targeting with one of their three second-round picks.

We start today with Ben Woodside, a point guard from North Dakota State.

At 5-foot-11, scouts rightly wonder if Woodside has the physical tools to make in the NBA. He is also a tad on the old side for an NBA prospect, slated to turn 24 not long after draft day.

Still, Woodside produced in college. Boy, did he produce. A scoring point, Woodside carried career averages of 18.2 points and 5.1 assists per game, all while shooting 40 percent from 3-point range. He was considered to be one of the quickest college guards in the nation last season.

The guy can flat score. He dropped 60 in a game against Stephen F. Austin last season, impressive no matter the level. Woodside also produced against the big boys, pumping in 37 against Kansas in the NCAA tournament. Those numbers are difficult to ignore.

Scouts will also wonder about the competition Woodside faced on a nightly basis at North Dakota State, but it should be noted that the Spurs found a legitimate NBA player in the Summit League -- IUPUI's George Hill -- in last year's draft.

Backup point guard was a sore spot for the Spurs last season. Though they would prefer to have a traditional, past-first point behind Tony Parker, Woodside has played his way onto their radar.

It remains to be seen where he goes from there. The point-guard crop is fairly deep this year, stocked with players with more size and more length and who might be more NBA-ready.

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