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Draft prospects murky for ex-Buckeye Buford

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Ex-Libbey star William Buford saw his 3-point shooting percentage fall to 36 percent last season.

THE OZONE.NET/JIM DAVIDSON Enlarge

William Buford's excellent NBA adventure has taken him from Boston to Miami, with stops in Cleveland and Detroit in between.

The former Ohio State and Libbey star worked out for seven teams over the last month and spent the last two days among 60 draft hopefuls at the NBA combine in Chicago. He has endured countless interviews, drills, and measurements. (Buford's hand, for the record, is 10 inches wide.)

Teams know everything about him, and yet Buford remains one of the draft's most debated prospects.

For all of the 6-foot-5 Toledo native's physical gifts, he remains an enigma to many league officials. The same deadeye, for instance, who hit 44 percent of his 3-pointers as a junior hit 36 percent last season. Buford, who averaged a career-high 14.5 points, starred some nights and vanished on others.

"All the scouts saw the same thing I saw, a guy who is inconsistent," said Joe Kotoch, a Cleveland-based agent who runs probasketballdraft.com. "They want to see him in these workouts prove them wrong and show them something he wasn't always able to show in college."

As it stands, most mock drafts project Buford as a mid-to-late second round pick. Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress.com said Buford is among 30 players "in that 40 to 60 range."

Buford, who could not be reached Friday, has plenty going for him. He has good range, size, and offensive skills. Buford is also regarded as a strong defender and a team player, two key traits organizations look for in potential contributors off the bench.

"He's played at a very high level for the last four years, played in a lot of big games," Givony said. "There's no transition inherent for him to become a role player. That's what his role was at Ohio State. In that regard, that's an advantage for him."

Among the questions he faces include recent knocks on his conditioning. He registered a reported 11.3 percent body fat at the combine -- a higher percentage than former OSU center Jared Sullinger (10.6).

"I need to get in better and tip-top shape," Buford told the Big Ten Network at the combine. "That's basically the main thing, getting into top shape. Coming from college to the NBA, your fitness has to be right."

Then there is his form-perfect shot, which Givony said will be Buford's "calling card in the NBA."

"The fact that he didn't shoot the ball nearly as well this year complicates things a little bit for him," he said.

As Kotoch said of NBA shooting guards, "If you're not a Ray Allen or something like that in terms of a shooter, you need to be a super athlete."

Both draft analysts, however, acknowledge it is their job to pick apart prospects. They said Buford could help an NBA team and still has time to prove his merit in upcoming workouts leading up to the draft on June 28.

After all the questions and scrutiny, Buford senses a happy outcome.

"It would be a dream come true," he said of being drafted. "It shows that hard works pays off."

Contact David Briggs at: dbriggs@theblade.com, 419-724-6084 or on Twitter @DBriggsBlade.

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