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SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS BUZZ

 

 

Heat drafts new outlook

 

BARRY JACKSON

 

bjackson@herald.com

 

 

During the past seven drafts, every NBA team except the Heat and Lakers has selected at least one high school or international player. So would Heat president Pat Riley be comfortable doing that in the June 24 draft?

 

''If it happens to be a positional player we really need, we would,'' Riley insists.

 

General manager Randy Pfund said ''there are several high school players we have a lot of interest in. It's not just bigger guys, but all positions -- [point guard] Sebastian Telfair, [forward] J.R. Smith. High school players will probably be the story of this draft. Most of them probably will be gone'' before the Heat picks 19th.

 

Riley has scouted several in person and said he would consider drafting a prep big man as a project, on the assumption Miami will fill its immediate needs through free agency. Pfund said he likes Robert Swift, a 7-1 prep center from Bakersfield, Calif., ``but my guess is he will not be there at 19.''

 

Heat officials insist there is no longer a hangover from the regrettable 1996 draft night decision to trade a future first-rounder to Utah for Estonian forward Martin Muursepp.

 

The Heat has studied several foreign big men, including Peter John Ramos, a 19-year-old, 7-3 center from Puerto Rico who has a key Heat workout this week vs. Colorado center David Harrison.

 

Several Europeans between 6-11 and 7-4 could go in the first round -- including potential Heat options Johan Petro (France), Peja Samardziski (Macedonia) and Anderson Varejao (Spain).

 

Top college players available at No. 19 could include BYU center Rafael Araujo, Minnesota forward Kris Humphries and St. Joseph's point guard Jameer Nelson.

 

? The Heat has shown interest in Indiana Pacers forward Al Harrington, who's expected to be traded, but other teams can offer more.

 

CHATTER

 

After initial optimism, University of Miami officials are unsure if running back Frank Gore will be ready for the Sept. 6 opener vs. FSU. Gore, returning from a major knee injury, ''is not ready to play,'' coach Admin Coker said. ``I'm hoping he'll be back [for the opener], but I'm not overly optimistic. Frank's recovery has been slower than [defensive back] Glenn Sharpe's, and why that is, I don't know.''

 

? Among the more than two dozen people who have inquired about ''The Ultimate Sage Rosenfels Experience'' is a New Jersey man who wants the Dolphins' No. 3 QB to consult on his fantasy football draft while enjoying ``delicious baked ziti.''

 

''He's taking a beating in here,'' Zach Thomas said. ``I told him I'd loan him some money if he needed it.''

 

Rosenfels, who will donate some money to charity, isn't the first Dolphin to do this. A few years ago, Rob Konrad and Olindo Mare pocketed more than $5,000 for greeting guests at a bar mitzvah. ''Educational,'' Konrad said.

 

? Even though the Dolphins missed the playoffs and had a ton of negative publicity, president Eddie Jones said he expects to match last year's season-ticket count of 59,000-plus. You can exasperate Dolfans, but you can't drive them away.

 

? We hear there's increasing thought within the Marlins -- particularly the on-field staff -- that Florida needs another run-producer, especially with Jeff Conine's slow first 10 weeks.

 

? ''You don't realize what you have until you're gone.'' That's what Mets closer Braden Looper said recently of Florida's defense -- and not just Alex Gonzalez and Luis Castillo.

 

'' Mike Lowell doesn't get enough recognition for his defense,'' Looper said. If St. Louis third baseman `` Scott Rolen weren't in the same league, Lowell would win the Gold Glove every year.''

 

Looper shared two other thoughts on his former team: 'I've always thought Mike Redmond was underappreciated. And watching Miguel Cabrera do what he did as a rookie was unbelievable to me. I would sit back and say to myself, `Oh, man. Just great at-bat after great at-bat.' And he's got a great heart, too.''

 

? On a one-year deal, the Marlins' Jack McKeon, 73, admits he ''thinks sometimes'' about surpassing Casey Stengel as the second-oldest manager in history, behind Connie Mack, who managed until 87. McKeon would need to manage into the 2006 season to achieve that. ''Age isn't a factor -- you shouldn't penalize experience,'' he said.

 

A Japanese TV station, preparing a documentary on McKeon, followed him for four days recently. ''I'm 45,'' he told them. ''I'll be 45 next year, too.'' McKeon smokes six to eight cigars daily but doesn't worry about health. He walks or jogs three to five miles a day.

 

 

I know the bottom part has already been posted in the marlins forum

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I hope that Telfair will still be available by the 19th pick because it would be nice to have depth at PG with Wade Alston and Telfair. Remember when Alston had to play 45 minutes a game because Wade was injured?

Well theirs no insurance in that Alston will be back next year with the Heat he is a Free Agent.

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I hope that Telfair will still be available by the 19th pick because it would be nice to have depth at PG with Wade Alston and Telfair. Remember when Alston had to play 45 minutes a game because Wade was injured?

Well theirs no insurance in that Alston will be back next year with the Heat he is a Free Agent. Yea but he basically played himself into the Heat's price range with the performance he put up in the playoffs, had it not been for that, he definitely would have been out of price range.

 

We'll see, but hopefully the Heat won't even need that depth at PG, because Dwyane Wade will hopefully play the whole season this time.

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