Reflections on a dead draft day for GW men’s hoops

My VCR was pre-set to TNT hours before the long-awaited 1999 NBA Draft was scheduled to air June 30. I’m not one to tape television shows. I admit I’m rather poor when it comes to electronics. But this was an event I could not miss.

The setting was the MCI Center in downtown D.C. And eligible for the draft were two Smith Center alumni, Yegor Mescheriakov and Shawnta Rogers. Having watched the latter part of their terrific GW careers, it would have been fitting to also watch their progression to the next level. But it just never happened.

Now, all we can do is hope that some wise NBA teams will give these two GW stars a chance. And it seems likely that some teams might. The New Jersey Nets showed interest in Mescheriakov and the Nets and the New York Knicks in Rogers.

Realistically, it’s a stretch to use a draft pick on a 5-4 player. But given the right circumstances, a guy like Rogers could impress a team and find a nice NBA contract coming his way. As for Mescheriakov, this man is ready for the NBA.

Looking back at the disappointing draft from a GW fan’s perspective, you think about a few selections and non-selections and just shake your head. New Jersey told Mescheriakov that their 34th overall pick might be him. Instead it was Northwestern center Evan Eschmeyer.

With Mescheriakov still around for the 35th pick belonging to the Washington Wizards, I thought for a second that it really was meant to be. I envisioned Mescheriakov standing tall and smiling at the sound of Rod Thorn calling his name. But when the Wizards passed on the local player for some guy from Pennsylvania State University, I had that very bad feeling. And with the final pick in the draft, the Utah Jazz selected Virginia Tech’s Eddie Lucas. I’d rather not discuss my reaction then.

I looked back and came across the two picks of the Denver Nuggets. They just happened to pick a power forward and a point guard. One player even happened to be from the Atlantic 10. With the 18th pick Denver selected Xavier’s James Posey and with the 33rd pick, Fresno State’s Chris Herren. Now come on, Posey and Herren or Mescheriakov and Rogers? The Nuggets overall success in the past speaks for itself. They don’t know what they’re doing.

It’s a shame that Mescheriakov and Rogers didn’t get drafted, especially with the draft being held right here in D.C. Instead, we got to see Maryland’s Steve Francis sulk about becoming a Vancouver Grizzlie. I’m sure Mescheriakov and Rogers were gracious that night in defeat. But what stands out about Yegor and Shawnta is that throughout their careers, they have battled against the critics and against the odds. Now they will have to find their way to some team’s camp and play basketball for the sake of their young careers. But with the pressure applied, these two men will step it up as they always have.

Humor me here: With the 35th pick, the Washington Wizards select Yegor Mescheriakov from The George Washington University. And with the 58th and final pick in the 1999 NBA draft, the Utah Jazz select Shawnta Rogers from The George Washington University. Ah, how sweet those words would have sounded.

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