Without pick, Warriors' predraft workouts have different feel

Without pick, Warriors' predraft workouts have different feel
June 14, 2013, 3:45 pm
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Oregon's Arsalan Kazemi is the first Iranian-born player to play Division-I basketball. (USA TODAY IMAGES)

Without a pick in the NBA Draft on June 27, Golden State's predraft workouts have a different feel than in years past. There won't be any top-tier prospects, only players projected to get drafted late, or not at all.

Warriors general manager Bob Myers, coach Mark Jackson and several members of the Warriors staff were present at the team facility Friday to see Wake Forest guard C.J. Harris, Kansas State forward Jordan Henriquez, Princeton forward Ian Hummer, Oregon forward Arsalan Kazemi, Washington center Aziz N'Diaye and center Augusto Lima of Brazil.

Of the six, five played four years in college with Lima the lone exception, having played professionally with Unicaja in Spain the last three years.

Lima was one of three foreign players along with N'Diaye (Senegal) and Kazemi, who is the first Iranian-born player to play Division-I basketball.

Kazemi, 23, was nine years old when his mom bought him a basketball. He said he immediately fell in love with the game and three years later began playing with Iran's national team for his age group against teams from Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq.

According to Kazemi, who played his first three college seasons at Rice, basketball in Iran has grown significantly over the past ten years. As a result, he's feeling pressure to carry the torch for the people at home.

"It's more kind of a pressure for me because there a lot of people, not just from my country, but from the region, which is Middle East, that are looking after me and seeing if I can make it or not," he said. "It's kind of a little pressure on my back, but I'm just trying to give the best effort that I can."

At 6-foot-7, 226 pounds, he sees himself as a small forward in the NBA after averaging 9.4 points and 10.0 rebounds a game for Oregon last season.

"It's going to be like a three-four, you know?" Kazemi said. "I'm hoping that if someone drafts me I'm going to be the energy guy to come off the bench and play defense because I'm assuming that's how you get a minute as a rookie."

Kazemi could have been describing Draymond Green, who, coincidently, was working on his game at a nearby court as Kazemi fielded questions. He's also worked out for the Lakers, Brooklyn, Orlando, Houston and Dallas and has eight other workouts scheduled.

N'Diaye, a 7-footer, credits Basketball Without Borders in South Africa as one of the reasons he got into the game. He idolized Dikembe Mutombo as a child and said the NBA has always been a realistic goal.

He didn't know English before coming to the United States and because of that, the process that eventually led him to Washington took longer than it might have otherwise. At 25 years old, he's two months younger than Stephen Curry and older than six players that finished on the Warriors roster last season.

N'Diaye averaged 8.9 points and 9.1 rebounds as a senior for the Huskies and has also worked out for Sacramento.

[RELATED: Warriors release pre-draft workout roster for June 15]

On Saturday, Golden State will host Iowa State guard Chris Babb, Santa Clara guard Kevin Foster, Kansas guard Elijah Johnson, James Madison guard Devon Moore, Oregon forward E.J. Singler and guard Peyton Siva of national-champion Louisville.