Skita's arrival changed draft forever

Updated: June 1, 2004, 4:16 PM ET
By Chad Ford | ESPN Insider
TREVISO, Italy -- It's not easy being an NBA scout these days. There was a time scouts essentially did one thing -- hang out in college arenas watching prospects for a few years, making evaluations based not only on talent but on real game experience. Nowadays, scouts are relieved if they catch even a glimpse of a kid in workouts with his trainers.

Over the last decade, scouts have moved into high school gyms across the country. They're now forced to dissect all-star games where players don't play defense and combined scores reach into the 300s. In Europe, scouts armed with only a passport and an Interpol photo travel the world searching for 7-footers with cross-over dribbles and 3-point shots.

The Reebok Eurocamp is underway in Treviso, Italy. In the gym now are 65 of the top young big men in the world. In a few days, another 60 or so top prospects from every position will be on display.

Almost every NBA team has a scout or GM here. Agents are crowded into bleachers in the corner. The Reebok Eurocamp has become to international scouting what the Nike and ABCD camps have been to high school scouting. It's a must-see stop on every good scout's itinerary as he attempts to sort through the scrum of high school, international and college players in the draft.

More than 40 young internationals declared for the draft this year. Most of them are under the age of 20. As many as 10 could be taken in the first round. Of those, only two are over the age of 20. Only one, 18-year-old Andris Biedrin, played a major role on his team this season. And he did it in Latvia -- not exactly a hot bed of NBA talent.

I'm standing in the corner watching two young lottery prospects -- Pavel Podkolzine and Martynas Andriuskevicius -- work on their post moves with Nuggets GM Kiki Vandeweghe when Phoenix Suns head coach Mike D'Antoni walks in and stands next me.

Two years ago D'Antoni and I stood in the exact same spot, alone in an empty gym, watching an unknown prospect, Nikoloz Tskitishvili, work out with an assistant coach.

Chad Ford

ESPN Senior Writer