Basketball: Casspi impresses in pre-NBA Draft workouts

3 Israelis have previously been selected in draft, but none have managed to get into roster; Hapoel Jerusalem brings back Guy Goodes to coach the club.

Omri Casspi 248.88 (photo credit: AP)
Omri Casspi 248.88
(photo credit: AP)
After pulling out of the 2008 NBA draft at the very last moment, Omri Casspi has decided to keep his name in this year's draft in the hope of becoming the first Israeli to be selected in the first round. The 22-year-old, who is currently being projected to be a late first round to early second round pick at Madison Square Garden on June 25, has spent the last three weeks working out in front of numerous NBA teams. "Casspi was impressive, just like he's been everywhere he's gone," an observer of the June 12 workout in New Jersey told Web site "He plays hard, competes. He hit tough shots. Step-backs, runners. Then he missed some wide open J's - go figure. He hits the toughest shots, but can't always make the easiest ones. He looked like he could be a great complementary player in a 5 on 5. "Definitely an atypical player for a European." Three Israelis have previously been selected in the draft, but none managed to get into an NBA roster. Doron Sheffer was selected 36th in the 1996 draft by the Los Angeles Clippers, but was never handed a contract by the team. Lior Eliyahu and Yotam Halperin were picked 44th and 53rd, respectively, 10 years after Sheffer, but likewise have yet to get a chance to actually play in the NBA. Meanwhile, in other Israeli basketball news announced Monday, Guy Goodes will remain as Hapoel Jerusalem coach next season. The club had notified Goodes last Sunday that it was no longer interested in his services after one season in charge. However, after Oded Katash had a late change of mind and decided to remain with Hapoel Galil/Gilboa instead of moving to Malha, Jerusalem pleaded with Goodes to return to the sideline and following a meeting late Sunday night he agreed. "I'm putting my ego aside for the club and its fans," Goodes said. "I'm taking this decision full heartedly in the understanding that everyone is interested in continuing working together."