Former UGA guard Caldwell-Pope poised to be first-round draft pick

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope’s lead up to the NBA draft included workouts for several teams in the top half of the first round including Milwaukee, which holds the No. 15 overall pick.

The Bucks don’t expect the Georgia shooting guard to be around when they select tonight. Utah, which has pick No. 14, was told by Caldwell-Pope’s representatives he probably would be gone by the time the Jazz are on the clock. He had to scrap a workout for them after becoming sick, but didn’t reschedule.

“The draft is not deep with shooting guards or good wing players, so anybody that has shown the ability to be able to play in the NBA and shoot the ball is going to move up because of that,” said Walt Perrin, Utah’s vice president of player personnel. “There’s teams that are looking for wing players and if there are not many in the draft they start looking heavily at those in the draft that have the ability to do what they’re looking for.”

The 6-foot-6, 204-pound Caldwell-Pope is projected to be a lottery pick, possibly in the top-10 and is all but a lock to be the first Georgia player selected in the first round in 10 years.

Caldwell-Pope was making the rounds in New York Wednesday — including at the 9/11 Memorial — and will be in the green room tonight at the Barclays Center.

“Kentavious will be a guy selected high in the first round,” Georgia coach Mark Fox said. “He’ll have a great night on Thursday. It’s a terrific night for Kentavious. His dreams are coming true. We’re excited about that for him. It also shows that at Georgia your dreams can come true.”

ESPN’s Chad Ford and Draftexpress.com are projecting Caldwell-Pope to go No. 9 to Minnesota in what’s considered a player pool that lacks franchise players. SI.com pegs him at No. 13 to Dallas.

Caldwell-Pope declared for the draft after being named the Southeastern Conference Player of the Year as a sophomore when he carried the Bulldogs.

I spoke 2 a team 2day 4 the 1st time n months- might be some trades that will shake things up. Either way I have faith KCP will be just fine

— Mark Fox (@coachmarkfox) June 26, 2013

The Greenville native averaged 18.5 points and 7.1 rebounds per game, shot 37.3 percent from 3-point range and led Georgia in scoring in 29 of 32 games.

“He’s not a one-trick pony where he shoots the ball and doesn’t play defense,” said Billy McKinney, Milwaukee’s director of scouting. “I think people look at him as a very good defensive player.”

The Bucks were one of the teams that had Caldwell-Pope in for a workout and visit.

“He had a nice workout with us while he was here,” McKinney said. “It was great for us to have him in and be able to spend some time with him as we did in Chicago (at the NBA combine).”

Caldwell-Pope also reportedly worked out with Portland, Minnesota and Boston among others.

“If you would have asked me at the end of the college season, I would have said he’s an early second-round pick,” said a scout from an Eastern Conference team who spoke on the condition his name and team not be identified. “His stock has really risen.”

The scout said that if Caldwell-Pope spent the summer going up against good competition and returned to Georgia for another season, he would be drafted higher.

He thought there were too many halves where Caldwell-Pope deferred to his teammates and didn’t shoot enough.

Yet Utah’s Perrin said Caldwell-Pope’s shot selection and his ability to make his teammates better might be concerns since he played on a Georgia team that went 15-17.

But he said: “He can shoot the ball. He’s got a nice body.”

Milwaukee’s McKinney said that Caldwell-Pope realizes he can improve at getting more shots off the dribble.

“That’s one of the thing he recognizes,” he said. “If you talk to players and they have a self-awareness of what area they need to improve, that’s always a great sign.”

The scout said he pegged Caldwell-Pope in April to go about No. 40 but now thinks he’ll be a top-15 pick.

“I think it’s more people going back and studying him carefully and really trying to break down his game,” he said.

The last Georgia player to go in the first round was Jarvis Hayes at No. 10 in 2003 in a draft that included LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade in the top five (along with Darko Milicic).

Fox said Kentucky is the only SEC team that had more early entries taken in the NBA draft the last three years than Georgia, which had juniors Trey Thompkins and Travis Leslie selected in the second round in the 2011 draft.

“It is something I think we’ll use to our advantage in recruiting,” Fox said.

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