Ford: Blazers GM Neil Olshey Scouts College Players At Maui Invitational

Steve Dykes-US PRESSWIRE

Portland Trail Blazers GM Neil Olshey is reportedly scouting college basketball players in Maui.

On the heels of a three-game winning streak probably isn't the best time for this, but here's a little early season 2013 NBA Draft information.

Chad Ford of ESPN.com reports that Portland Trail Blazers GM Neil Olshey is in Hawaii, scouting the Maui Invitational college basketball tournament.

A number of NBA GMs -- including the Celtics' Danny Ainge, the Jazz's Kevin O'Connor, Bulls' Gar Forman, the Warriors Bob Myers and the Blazers Neil Olshey -- were in attendance. Overall, they are seeing the same phenomenon here that they are seeing everywhere. This is a down season, talent wise, in the NCAA. "If Cody Zeller, Shabazz Muhammad, Nerlens Noel and James McAdoo are your top four picks, it's going to be an ugly, ugly draft."

Other than McAdoo, I couldn't find a scout or GM convinced there was another first-round prospect here. If Kabongo plays, that could be two. But that explains, in part, why the field is so weak.

Update: Here's a follow-up via Casey Holdahl at Blazers.com. Ford writes the following in an ESPN.com chat.

Joseph (Issaquah, WA)

Obviously Lillard's age has helped him be more mature and play more like a second or third year player but has he shown more upside than a lot of analysts first thought?

Chad Ford (1:12 PM)

I was Lillard's biggest fan last year and I didn't anticipate him playing this well, this soon. The thing I loved about Lillard then (and now) is that he's such a hard worker. He spent the summer improving his game. He's done that every year he was a college player too. I don't think he's come close to hitting his ceiling yet though I do agree that his age and body helped him compete right away. Neil Olshey was giving me crap about my "B+" grade for the Blazers on draft night in Maui on Monday. Lillard was an A. It was the Meyers Leonard pick I wasn't in love with. But Blazers might have been right about that one too.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reports from New York City, where projected top-three pick Shabazz Muhammad finally made his debut for UCLA.

Muhammad has constructed his pre-college reputation on how fiercely he competes on the floor, how he uses that explosive and chiseled 6-foot-6 frame inside and outside. "His greatest talent is his competitiveness," said an assistant GM who spent several days watching Muhammad in national team practices at the Hoop Summit in the spring. "He's relentless. But does he have the skill level to be the No. 1 pick? I still need to see that out of him."

Muhammad has missed so much time since the summer, missed out on the preseason with a separated shoulder and the NCAA probe, that it was unfair to expect too much out of him in Brooklyn. Everyone knew that Kentucky's Anthony Davis would be the No. 1 pick in the 2012 NBA draft, as far back as his first few weeks in Lexington.

This year, it's different. As one assistant GM of a likely lottery team said, "Whoever is the No. 1 pick, he'll play himself into it this year. I don't think it will ever be a clear-cut choice."

I wrote this on McAdoo back in April 2011.

-- Ben Golliver | benjamin.golliver@gmail.com | Twitter

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