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Original Issue

Final Examination

Cal guard Patrick Christopher knows he has one more chance to impress NBA scouts, and he intends to make the most of it

One NBA draft analyst ranks Cal shooting guard Patrick Christopher the 135th-best prospect in college basketball, noting that he "doesn't do anything exceptionally well." Another draft guru predicts that Christopher's teammate, senior forward Theo Robertson, will be selected in June but that Christopher will not. A third sums up Christopher's NBA potential this way: "Not a lock to be drafted at this point."

A 6'5" senior from Compton, Calif., who averaged 16.0 points and 5.4 rebounds against weak competition in the Pac-10, Christopher would appear to have slim hopes of fulfilling his long-held dreams, except for this: Every year a player with an uncertain NBA future parlays a strong NCAA tournament into a pro contract.

"What you do in those games maybe matters more because you are going against other great players," Christopher says. "Also, if you can perform in the tournament, it shows that you can handle pressure. Plus, everyone's watching."

In 2005, questions about forward Sean May's athleticism dogged him until he helped North Carolina win the national title; that June the Bobcats made him a lottery pick. After point guard Acie Law led Texas A&M to the Sweet 16 in '07, concerns about his speed and shooting gave way to praise for his leadership, and the Hawks took him with the No. 11 pick. Last season few pundits had Missouri forward DeMarre Carroll as a first-round talent, but then he sparked the Tigers' run to the Elite Eight and went 27th, to the Grizzlies.

Christopher says he is singularly focused on winning games, beginning with the Bears' first-round matchup with Louisville in Jacksonville, and "on making more history for Cal," which won its first Pac-10 title in 50 years. But he knows that every game the Bears win presents another opportunity for him to rewrite the scouting report on his potential.

"I know I am an NBA two guard," he says. "But I also know that getting drafted can come down to that final impression."



BEAR DOWN Christopher, first-team all-Pac-10 for the second straight year, is a long shot to make the pros.