Roy Hibbert knows that just over a year ago, most mock drafts had him as a top-10 pick and now have slotted him to go late first, early second round.
But, if Hibbert, a 7-foot-2, 270 pound behemoth out of Georgetown, regrets returning to the Hoyas for his senior season, he did a pretty good job convincing the media horde otherwise yesterday at the Air Canada Centre.
Hibbert's stock was at an all-time high in April 2007, after he followed a strong junior season by leading Georgetown to the Final Four. Though his team fell to future No. 1 Greg Oden and Ohio State, Hibbert outscored Oden 19-13 in the game and appeared to be a lottery lock.
Then, Hibbert did the unexpected by pulling out of the draft.
Unexpected, but yet correct, said Hibbert.
"If I went last year, I wasn't mentally and physically ready for what happens in the NBA," Hibbert said. "I was 20 years old. I would have been on the bench. (Now) I think I'm one year older a little bit smarter and stronger and I think I can hold (my own) when I go out there."
Hibbert's stock has dropped because his play didn't noticeably improve as a senior and because scouts question his ability to play in an up-tempo system, like Toronto's, and his conditioning.
The latter doesn't seem to be a problem, because the noticeably leaner Hibbert has been following a gruelling workout schedule.
Raptors director of player personnel, Jim Kelly, said Hibbert is like most players in the mid-to-nether-regions of this draft: Strong in some areas, but not without a few blemishes.
"You look a little bit at (his slow) foot speed and you put that into your equation how much that factors in, but he can shoot the ball," Kelly said.
"He's one of the few big guys who still has the hook shot with the left hand and right hand, a little bit old school, but still a very effective shot for a big man."