Coverage from:
The Springfield Union-News
The Daily Hampshire Gazette
The Chicago Sun-Times


Lari: Ketner taken by Bulls
By Jeff Thomas, The Springfield Union-News Staff, 7/1/1999

WALTHAM - Former University of Massachusetts center Lari Ketner was selected by the Chicago Bulls in the second round of the NBA Draft last night.

Audio clip: of the selection & analysis.
125k .WAV
Courtesey: NBA/TNT
Ketner was the 49th pick overall and the fourth by the Bulls, all forwards.

The big difference between being picked in the first round or second round is guaranteed money. First-rounders are guaranteed three years, with a set salary based on the previous year's picks at that position, with the team holding an option for the fourth and fifth years.

There is no guarantee for second-round picks. They have to make the team just like any other free agent.

Former UMass forward Lou Roe is a good example of why not to fall into the second round. Roe was drafted with the first pick in the second round in 1995 by Detroit, missing out on guaranteed money.

He played two years with Golden State [correction: Roe only played the 1996-97 season with the Warriors], then took his game overseas. Ketner was tagged with the "potential" label before he stepped on the court at UMass. The 6-foot-10 center from Philadelphia's Roman Catholic High School turned his back on his hometown colleges for Amherst.

He sat out his freshman season to fulfill NCAA academic requirements. As a sophomore, he helped the Minutemen reach the NCAA tournament in coach Bruiser Flint's first season by averaging 10.6 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.21 blocks.

He improved as a junior, averaging 15.2 points, 7.4 rebounds and 2.1 blocks. That performance led to speculation that he would forego his senior season and make himself eligible for the 1998 NBA Draft.

But Ketner stayed at UMass and suffered through a tumultuous season during which his mother, Asaya Wright, was sick. His concentration on basketball lagged, and his performances sagged with the team's tournament hopes. The Minutemen finished 14-16.

Despite the subpar senior season, Ketner was still an attractive pro prospect because of his size and quickness around the basket.

At the Nike Desert Classic in Phoenix, he averaged 13.3 points and 6.7 rebounds while shooting 54 percent from the field and 80 percent from the line as he was named to the all-tournament team.

Ketner's performance wasn't as strong at the NBA pre-draft camp in Chicago, but his physical size (he measured 6 percent body fat) was impressive.


Chicago goes for Ketner
By Andrew Ayres, The Daily Hampshire Gazette Staff Writer, 7/1/1999

When Lari Ketner first stepped before the local media on October 10, 1995, one of his University of Massachusetts teammates talked about the then-freshman's chances in the NBA.

"I don't know if he's going to be here his senior year," Marcus Camby said. Compared with his junior season, Ketner often played like he wasn't here. But that did not stop him from being selected by the Chicago Bulls Wednesday night with the 49th pick overall in the NBA Draft.Given the fact that the Bulls had the No. 1 pick in the draft, and made the controversial choice of Duke's Elton Brand, the selection of Ketner was strictly sidebar material in Chicago.

The Chicago Sun-Times story headline today, "Ketner a mystery after drop in senior year," quoted Minutemen coach Bruiser Flint at length about his happiness with Ketner's recent showing at the Nike Desert Classic, a showcase for potential draftees.

This selection, however late in the evening, represents a great opportunity for Ketner.Although he could be projected for a power forward role, the center position is an area where the Bulls need help.

The incumbent Bulls center is Dickey Simpkins, a 6-10 pivotman who averaged 9.1 points and 6.8 rebounds per game last season. Andrew Lang, an 11-year NBA journeyman, is recovering from an MCL injury. Bill Wennington is an 11-year veteran who seems to be nearing the end of the line. This not exactly like being stuck behind the Spurs' twin towers, David Robinson and Tim Duncan. Once upon a time, this draft choice represented a chance to play alongside Michael Jordan. Now, if Ketner earns himself a roster spot, the best he likely can do is content himself with looking at the statue of Jordan outside the United Center and with being cheered by the Luvabulls. This is a team, city, and league still getting over the retirement of Jordan shortly before this strike-shortened season began. The team stumbled to a 13-37 record, devoid of further star power with the added departure of Scottie Pippen. The best attraction now is Toni Kukoc.

While Ketner was frequently the center of attention in Amherst, he likely will step into Chicago with little pressure, relative to some of his teammates.

To wit, reaction in Chicago was not entirely positive over the selection of Brand with the first pick instead of Maryland's Steve Francis.

Bulls General Manager Jerry Krause likely will be defending this pick for a while. Some wanted the Jordanesque flash of Francis versus the power of Brand.

"A dull basketball man made a dull basketball decision," wrote Sun-Times columnist Jay Mariotti.

Ketner was the only center picked by the Bulls in the draft. It is a position draft analysts said was their greatest weakness.

Will the senior slump, in which Ketner's field goal shooting percentage dropped from 52 percent to 42 percent compared with his junior year, be a one-year aberration, attributable to the fact that defenses collapsed on him like a bad tent due to the Minutemen's poor outside shooting?

For Ketner to make it, he will need to show the fire that made him a scoring machine who dropped in 34 points against St. Joseph's and 33 against Dayton in his junior year, and that recently made him a Desert Classic All-Tournament team pick in Phoenix with averages of 13.3 points, 6.7 rebounds and 54 percent shooting from the floor.

If so, then Camby, who himself didn't stay in college for his senior year while Ketner did, will have been on-target with his prediction of an NBA future for Ketner.


Ketner a mystery after drop as senior
By John Jackson, The Chicago Sun-Times Staff Reporter, 7/1/1999

WASHINGTON--The Bulls expect to get immediate contributions from Elton Brand and Ron Artest, the two players they selected in the first round of Wednesday night's NBA draft.

They aren't quite sure what to expect from Lari Ketner, the player they took with the last of their four picks (No. 49 overall).

Ketner, a 6-10 forward-center from the University of Massachusetts, is a mystery because he experienced an unusual drop in scoring from his junior to senior seasons.

Ketner, 22, averaged 10.8 points last season. His best season was his junior year when he led UMass in scoring with an average of 15.2 points. He also led the team in blocks (2.09), was second in rebounding (7.4) and had a field-goal percentage of .523.

But he never found that magic again. He went from being named on several all-America teams and a sure-fire first round pick to someone not expected to be drafted.

"Lari only shot 40 percent this season," UMass coach Bruiser Flint said. "He was a career 53-percent shooter.

"But I have to give Lari a lot of credit. He didn't hang his head after the season. He's been working out steadily. The hard work really paid off for him.

"He shot the ball well in the tournament."

The Bulls are hoping he regains that form. Ketner played much better during the Nike Desert Classic in Phoenix, averaging 13.3 points and 6.7 rebounds while shooting 54 percent. He was named to all-tournament team and played himself into the draft again.

"I'm really happy for Lari," Flint said. "He did extremely well in Phoenix. He didn't have a great year for us. I told him he'll have another chance to show the scouts what he can do."


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