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LU’s Olliver, Davis await NBA draft in different ways

The following column from the Best of West collection was originally published in the Port Arthur News on June 7, 1981.



Professional basketball’s D Day — as in draft — will find Lamar University’s Mike Olliver and B.B. Davis taking as diverse an approach to the goings on as they took to playing offense.

Olliver, Lamar’s Mr. Outside for four golden years, will spend the most important day in his life either watching the draft telecast while hanging around McDonald Gym waiting for Cardinal coach Pat Foster’s phone to ring, or at the Houston Rockets offices.

Davis, the Cardinals Mr. Inside during four championship seasons, will by necessity learn of his fate in a totally different manner. Currently employed by the Finanze, Inc., team in the Philippine Professional League, Davis will sit by a phone and await word from his agent, Irwin Weiner.

Neither should have to sweat it out for too long after the draft’s 11:15 a.m. start.

Latest projections have both halves of Lamar’s dynamic duo being chosen in the second round. There still seems to be the slightest chance Olliver could go at the bottom of round one, but it seems to be a very long shot.

Davis, on the other hand, has seen his stock soar just to be mentioned as a possible second rounder.

“I had hoped to be taken in the first round,” Olliver said, “but right now that appears to be pretty slim. From what I’ve heard and read, nobody’s going to take me before the second round.

“All I ask for is to be drafted by somebody that will give me a chance to show what I can do.”

Davis, reached by The News in Manila on Wednesday, said he’s been so wrapped up in playing for Finanze he hasn’t given much thought to the draft. He says he probably won’t even worry about it much on Tuesday.

“I don’t have control over what’s going to happen anyway, so it’s just as well I’m over here,” he said. “My agent will let me know who drafted me. I won’t be back in the United States until Friday.”

Davis has played well in the Philippine League and that, coupled with a strong showing in the Portsmouth Invitational, has apparently boosted his worth with the NBA crowd. The 6-8 Beaumonter was averaging 21 points and 13 rebounds through his first four games in the Philippines.

“I feel pretty good about my game right now,” he said. “Getting a chance to play in this league has given me some idea of what it’s going to be like in the NBA. The thing I’ve been working hardest on is my man-to-man defense.”

Olliver, meanwhile, has been spending the final days before the draft honing his game in McDonald Gym and making plans to get married. The Cardinals’ all-time leading scorer will tie the knot with Robin Woodard — daughter of former Charlton-Pollard basketball coach Bob Woodard — on June 27 in Houston.

He doesn’t appear to be nervous about either of the big events.

“I haven’t been nervous at all,” he said. “I guess I’ll wait until the last minute for that. But I will be glad when Tuesday gets here. At this point, I have no idea which team will take me.”

Foster said he’s been told by various NBA people that both of his standouts will disappear from the big board early. He added that he was encouraged last week when he read where the Houston Rockets were considering making Davis one of their second-round picks.

“You can’t put too much stock in those things, though, because so much can happen right at the end to change a team’s thinking,” Foster said. “You can bet there will be some trades made, and those trades will alter the priorities of the teams involved.”

Both Olliver and Davis seem to be in good shape draftwise, if the Marty Blake Report carries as much weight as it’s supposed to. Blake, the super scout who writes the NBA bible on collegiate talent, gives the LU duo high marks on his final pre-draft report.

“Blake sent out a long sheet on Olliver and Davis, which means he thinks they should be taken in the first two rounds,” advised an NBA insider. “My guess is that both of them will be grabbed around the middle of the second round.”

Blake’s final rating lists Olliver as the fifth best “off guard” in the nation. The off guard is the backcourt player who plays away from the ball and is expected to be a scorer.

Blake’s report on Olliver reads as follows: “Grade A shooter with as good a range as any player in the draft. Can handle the ball but has problems when pressed . . . Needs to improve in this area. Can drive to the hoop with strength, but will usually pull up and take the 15-to-20 footer.

“When he gets his rhythm, he can get very hot. Not a playmaker, but he can make a pass and sees the court well . . . Has good speed and quickness . . . Very strong and looks bigger than he is . . . Has an excellent body for pro ball.”

Blake ranks Davis 11th among the “small forwards” and had this to say about Lamar’s second leading all-time scorer and rebounder.

“At times played very well during past year . . . Gets beat in transition game . . . Has good moves to the hoop and can hit the 15-foot jumper on the run . . . Will rebound and is very aggressive . . . Not a good ball handler in a control type situation . . . Any team taking him should try to work with him in a summer league or keep him for individual attention.

Olliver and Davis, when they are taken, will be only the third and fourth Lamar players ever selected in the NBA draft.

Sports editor Bob West can be e-mailed at rdwest@usa.net.