Commentary

Jennings' Italian job gets mixed reviews

Updated: June 9, 2009, 2:26 PM ET
By Chad Ford | ESPN.com
Brandon JenningsLuca Sgamellotti/EB/Getty ImagesBrandon Jennings averaged 7.6 points in just under 20 minutes per game in Euroleague action.
TREVISO, Italy -- Two weeks ago, Brandon Jennings' grand European experiment ended with a whimper and then, a demand.

His team, Lottomotica Roma, had just been upset in the quarterfinals of the Italian League playoffs. Jennings, who many NBA scouts predict will be a lottery pick in this month's NBA draft, hadn't played a minute in the entire playoff series.

Frustrated, and a little bit angry, Jennings had had enough. Before his team had even left the court he was on the phone with his agent.

"Get me out of here."

Within 48 hours Jennings was on a plane back home to Los Angeles. His one-year European adventure was over.

***

Last Friday, a number of top NBA GMs headed in the opposite direction, to Italy, to watch Jennings play in the 2009 Reebok Eurocamp.

Their flights were booked weeks in advance on the promise that Jennings would attend. The buzz about seeing Jennings unleashed drew an unusually high amount of GMs to the event. But by the time they arrived on Friday, they already knew the bad news. While the Eurocamp had a number of interesting international prospects, the main attraction wasn't coming.

"We all came to see whether this kid can really play," one veteran GM told ESPN.com. "I'd heard the hype, watched the video and heard various opinions from my scouts. I wanted to see how he stacked up against other top kids his age. Then he doesn't show. He sure isn't making this easy on us. You want to like the kid, but he ain't giving you a lot to go on."

Other GMs around the league have expressed similar opinions all week. A few didn't even make the trip to Italy after they got word he backed out. The ones who are there are asking the same question: Is Jennings worthy of the hype?

The answer to that question varies widely here at the camp. I spent the weekend talking to dozens of people in Italy. Some were Italian coaches. Others were rival Italian GMs. I talked to veteran NBA international scouts, coaches and executives who have followed him closely this year.

Their descriptions of Jennings -- the player and the man -- were all virtually identical. To a man, nearly every person I spoke with described the same strengths and weaknesses. But when it comes to making conclusions about his future in the NBA, there is no consensus.

Jennings remains the biggest enigma in this year's draft.


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Chad Ford | email

Senior Writer, NBA Insider