Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
GREENBURGH, N.Y. — Having played in the Ivy League, Jeff Foote can’t quite imagine getting LeBron James as a teammate.
But if the 7-foot Foote gets drafted by the Knicks and New York lands LeBron via free agency, it will be a whole new world for the Cornell product.
“It would be a different experience going to a lockerroom having LeBron James or Dwyane Wade sitting there, Dirk Nowitzki or Chris Bosh,” Foote said, referring to the top 2010 NBA free agents. “It’s just a lot of excitement.
“You’re playing in the Ivy League with Ryan Wittman, Jeremy Lin, Louis Dale. It’s a different caliber of player than LeBron and Dirk. It would be exciting.”
Foote and 6-9 Keith “Tiny” Gallon, who left Oklahoma after his freshman season amid an NCAA investigation, worked out against one another Thursday at the Knicks’ facility here.
The Knicks have no first-round pick in the June 24 NBA Draft but pick back-to-back at 38 and 39 in the second round. Regardless of what free agents they attract, they desperately need a center.
“I got to go against a guy like big Tiny over here,” Foote, a native of Lockwood, N.Y., said of the workout. “It’s nice because we don’t get those guys in the Ivy League very much so it’s a different level of player and it’s a lot of fun.”
Foote averaged 12.3 points, 8.1 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.9 blocks while helping Cornell reach the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament before falling to John Wall and Kentucky. Wall is projected as the No. 1 overall pick.
At 7-feet, 255-pounds, the main criticism of Foote has been his lack of upper-body strength.
“Is he going to be an NBA player? I don’t know,” Ryan Blake, assistant director of NBA scouting, said in a phone interview. “He helped himself by playing in Portsmouth. He showed a little versatility and his IQ and how much he’s improved. He can play both ends of the floor and made an impact against the top seniors.
“One of the concerns is, is he going to have enough muscle to play in the NBA? Regardless of if he’s drafted, he’s going to be followed and tracked. If he doesn’t get drafted and doesn’t make a team, a good idea would be to play in the D-League.”
Foote acknowledges those concerns and says he plans to bulk up over the summer.
“I’m just now starting to put on weight,” he said. “I’ve got a ways to go. I know after another solid summer of lifting like I had last year I’ll be in good shape.”
He believes his style of play could fit well into Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni’s system.
“I know Coach D’Antoni likes the passing big men, more European-style game so I think coming from Cornell our system really fit into that,” Foote said.
Gallon, a nimble man for someone his size, said D’Antoni wants a big man who can shoot.
“Coach D’Antoni likes people who can shoot,” said Gallon, who averaged 10.3 points and 7.9 rebounds in his lone season in college. “I’m like a pick-and-pop guy, and they’re looking for a guy who can shoot the three, a big man that can play inside.”
Gallon, who missed time with an ankle sprain at the end of Oklahoma’s season, will work out next week for Milwaukee and New Jersey.
He said he hopes to continue working out well so he can move up the draft boards.
“I’m just continuing to impress these coaches and I think I could be mid-first round to who knows?” he said.
(Photo NBAE/Getty Images)
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Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.