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Recker still has a shot

By Jerry Bembry
ESPN The Magazine

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Deep down, he yearned to host a big party for family and friends and celebrate the culmination of a boyhood dream -- having his name called on NBA draft night.


But his better judgement led him to spend the evening in semi-seclusion with his fiancee in Las Vegas and here's why: The last thing Luke Recker wanted was for his guests to be forced to shift from celebration to consolation in the event that his name wasn't called.

"A lot of guys plan parties because they know they're getting drafted," Recker said, "but I didn't know. I was told I could go anywhere from late in the first round to the second round to not being drafted at all.

"I watched and waited and anticipated, even up until the last pick by Sacramento because I had worked out with them. Once I didn't go there, I knew I had made the right choice. The last thing I wanted was being around people offering me sympathy."

Recker doesn't want your sympathy. He's had enough of that since that day three years ago when a drunk driver hit a car he was riding in on a road in Colorado. Recker nearly bled to death in the accident that left a friend dead and his then-girlfriend paralyzed.

What Recker wants is a chance to realize his dreams of playing in the NBA. He played for the Miami Heat summer league team in Florida last week in his attempt to prove that 29 teams got it all wrong on draft night.

On back-to-back days in the Orlando Professional Summer League last week, Recker went against first-round picks Tayshaun Prince (Detroit) and Fred Jones (Indiana) and more than held his own. He had a team-high 13 points and five rebounds in 20 minutes in a win over the Pistons (Prince had seven points and six rebounds in 35 minutes) and a team-high 15 points -- hitting three of four 3-pointers -- and five rebounds in 22 minutes against the Pacers (Jones had 13 points and two rebounds in 31 minutes).

"Those are two guys who are guaranteed money as first-round picks, with three years automatically in the league," Recker says. "Going against those guys gives me extra incentive. I'm trying to make it, I'm trying to prove that I belong."

Recker displayed that he's more than capable of hitting the open outside shot, hitting 50 percent of his attempts while averaging 10.8 points. Recker also demonstrated an ability to attack the basket offensively and play physically, helping the Heat go undefeated in five games.

Recker's biggest challenge: He has a small frame, which might make it difficult defending a position that features talented players like Kobe Bryant, Ray Allen, Tracy McGrady and Vince Carter. Listed at 6-foot-6 and 202 pounds at Iowa, Recker -- in a desire to gain quickness and some spring to his game -- had dropped to 198 pounds prior to reporting to the Heat.

While his play was good enough to generate interest from the Magic, making the NBA is considered a long shot for Recker. Impressive play during the summer leagues could earn him a shot at some team's training camp, where Recker will be forced to excel against established NBA players.

Standing courtside after scoring 13 points for the Heat in an eight-point win over Detroit last week, Recker got a congratulatory pat on the back from Caron Butler, Miami's first-round pick (10th overall).

Reminded about Butler's vow to make the teams with the first nine picks pay for passing him up in the first round, Recker offered a laugh that suggested he wished he had such problems.

"Caron can only pay back nine teams. I can pay back everybody on the schedule," Recker said. "I'm just hoping that I can earn the chance to do just that."
best of luck to Luke. The kid has been through a lot. he played at Indiana and didn't get along with bobby knight. he then had plans of transferring to ARizona and go into a car accident. finished his college career at Iowa and did a great job with Alfford. i hope the kids gets into the NBA.
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