With the Wizards set to being summer league play in Las Vegas on Tuesday, the team has been holding a mini-camp in D.C. for the players on the team. The camp began on Saturday and will finish on Monday. Both the Washington Post and Washington Times have first day wrap-ups posted on their respective Wizards blogs, but with limited media access (essentially being able to watch the players shoot), there wasn’t much to report.
Both Bullets Forever and Ridiculous Upside previously posted some quick facts about the players on the summer league roster, but I wanted to dive a bit deeper, not only to find out what type of player each is, but also what composes their background.
Part one will focus on James Lang, John Edwards, Alex Ruoff, and Jimmy Baron. Lang, who previously spent time with the Wizards, gets a more formal write up. The rest of them get a short-cut … bullet points.
James Lang (A ‘Should’ve Gone To College’ Case)
[6'10" power forward/center - second round draft pick out of high school, pro basketball vagabond]
In the summer of 2002, Lang, at a rotund 300+ pounds and out of Birmingham, AL, was touted as one of the best big men at the adidas ABCD camp in New Jersey. He was being recruited by the likes of Louisville, Alabama and North Carolina. By the time Lang committed to Rick Pitino and Louisville, he was rumored to weigh in at 335 pounds. Talk about Dinner Bells.
The commitment to the Cardinals wasn’t solid though. He subsequently visited Kentucky and Alabama, but was more so swayed by the dollar signs of the NBA in his eyes. But while scouts and recruiting services (many of which dubbed him the top center in the class of ’03) drooled over his great hands and potential, he drooled over the buffet. There were even rumors that he’d ballooned to 400 pounds at one point during his high school career, but is said to have shed at least 100 of those at some point during his senior year.
By the time he was named a ’03 McDonald’s All-American, finishing with 15 points and 10 rebounds in the game, his desire to enter the NBA draft was set, aided by “academic concerns” of course. He formally announced his draft intentions on May 10, 2003.
Lang, who many expected could be taken in the first round, slipped to the New Orleans Hornets at the 48th pick in the second round. On draft night, he had a viewing party with his family at a restaurant in Alabama. When he was finally selected, his family came running out, yelling “praise god” and “thank you Jesus” to inform Lang, who was listening to the Diplomats rap group in a white Escalade in the parking lot.
He was signed by New Orleans, but spent all of his time on the IR, and was waived by January of 2004. Since, he’s been a basketball vagabond from Utah to Toronto to Atlanta to Arkansas to Spain to Portland to Israel to China to Oklahoma to Asheville, the highlight of his career appearing in 11 NBA games for the Wizards in 2006-07.
The latest report from Michael Lee of the Washington Post is that Lang has ‘slimmed’ down to 280, from weighing 325 when he played with the Wiz.
Lang shares an October 17th birthday with Cavs GM Danny Ferry, Wyclef Jean, Eminem, Wood Harris (aka Avon Barksdale of The Wire), and Norm Macdonald.
John Edwards (The Heart That Many Needed)
[7'0" center - Kent State, 4 years - NBA, NBDL, other pro leagues/overseas]
- Edwards played at Hudson High in Hudson, Ohio.
- Even though he grew up in the Buckeye State, he was a fan of Michigan and the Fab Five as a kid.
- He will turn 28 on July 31 and shares a birthday with OKC Thunder coach Scott Brooks, Maryland Terp/NBA journeyman/Wizards big man scrimmage dummy Tony Massenburg, former Raven Jonathan Ogden, former Redskin Gus Frerotte, Wesley Snipes, former Cap Dale Hunter, Mavs owner Mark Cuban, The Office writer/actor/producer B.J. Novak, and Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling.
- He scored fewer than 50 points in his high school career.
- He was 7’0″ upon graduating from high school but was so uncoordinated that absolutely no one recruited him. He walked on at Kent State, redshirted his freshman year, worked hard, and eventually earned a scholarship.
- Edwards played with NFL TE Antonio Gates for two seasons at Kent St.
- From absolutely no expectations to starting all 31 games, averaging 26.1 minutes his senior season at Kent State, Edwards won the MAC Defensive Player of the Year (and was an all conference first teamer). The guy has made his basketball career on a ton of hustle.
- He went undrafted by the NBA, but was drafted by the Gary Steelheads of the CBA. In addition to time spent with the Indiana Pacers and the Atlanta Hawks, he’s played for the Albuquerque Thunderbirds, Tulsa 66ers, SK Cherkassy Monkeys (Ukraine), Sioux Falls Skyforce, and Iowa Energy.
- For one game on November 20, 2004, because of the Malice at the Palace, he was the only player on the bench for the Indiana Pacers, but only played for 15 minutes, taking three shots, making one, grabbing one rebound, and committing three fouls. Two weeks later on December 3rd, he played a career high 31 minutes (which accounted for over 22% of his total minutes played in 04-05), and scored a career high 9 points.
- To give back to Kent State, where his skills were cultivated, Edwards has made the Kent, Ohio university his home for summer workouts.
- He may never make an NBA team again, but no one EVER expected him to do so in the first place.
Alex Ruoff (Gunning from the Sunshine State to the Mountaineer State)
[6'7" shooting forward - West Virginia, 4 years]
- Already signed with Belgacom Liege of Belgium’s Division I league, but had an escape clause in case if he was invited to an NBA camp or summer league.
- Holds West Virginia record with 261 made threes for his career.
- He will turn 23 on August 29th and shares a birthday with David West, Will Perdue, Carlos Delfino, Devean George, and the late Michael Jackson.
- His favorite pro team is the Miami Heat (grew up in Florida and played for the Tallahassee Wildcats AAU team).
- He once dunked all over Georgetown in the Verizon Center.
- He played with other Wizards’ summer leaguers, Josh Heytvelt and Tyrese Rice, in the NABC college all-star game.
- He gave up football in high school because it affected his jump shot.
- He made ESPN Magazine’s Academic All-American Men’s Basketball 1st team.
- His agent is Doug Neustadt, who also represents these people.
- When he was younger, he served as a caregiver for this mother because she had multiple sclerosis.
- In a ’50 Things To Know about Alex Ruoff’ on a West Virginia U related website, he answers the following “ifs”:
- If I could do anything, I would: lead as many people as I can to Christ, so they can be saved as I am.
- If I could see into the future, I would want to know: when God is coming back.
- If I could go back in time, I would: do everything I could to prevent any war from happening.
- If I could meet anyone, I would meet: Besides Jesus, I would love to meet Michael Jordan.
Jimmy Baron (Workin’ for a Livin’ and That Work is Shooting)
[6'3" guard - Rhode Island, 4 years]
- Was coached by his father, Jim Baron, at Rhode Island, which understandably caused some stress on the family at times … mom usually served as the mediator.
- After high school, Jimmy only had one scholarship offered to him by Division II Assumption College. He thus attended prep school at Worcester Academy where he put in hard work to become a D-I player.
- Early in Jimmy’s career, Coach Jim requested tapes of J.J. Redick’s shooting and drills from Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski. Coach K complied.
- In November of ’08, Jimmy repaid the favor by dropping 8 threes against Duke at Cameron Indoor; Duke narrowly escaped with a win, 82-79.
- His 345 made threes for his career stands as the most in the history of the Atlantic 10 Conference.
- He set a Rhode Island single-season record with 118 made threes during his senior season.
- Nothing more than a spot-up shooter, Baron has been compared to Bryce Drew and Matt Maloney by Sports Illustrated.
- His mom had open-heart surgery in February and recovered to run a marathon.
- Jimmy turned 23 on May 23rd and shares a birthday with Rasual Butler, Rod Thorn, Jordan Zimmerman of the Nationals, and Cleveland comedian Drew Carey.
- Majored in communications, minored in oceanography.
- Jimmy played for the Utah Jazz in the Orlando Summer League — over 5 games, he saw about 50 minutes on the court, scored 13 total points (8 came in one game), went 3-7 from downtown, and had 2 assists.