NBA Draft hopefuls honing their games at IMG Academy

Florida's Young among top college players in the area

Special to the HeraldJune 4, 2014 

When college athletes look to make the jump to the professional ranks, IMG Academy is where they turn to get prepared.

Coach Dan Barto heads the basketball department and is responsible for preparing top collegiate players this summer for the upcoming NBA Draft.

"My job is not necessarily to just get them ready for June, but to move them up in the draft," Barto said.

With the NBA draft only weeks away, coach Barto puts on two-a-days that include shooting drills, ball-handling, passing drills and a vision test to improve court vision.

Barto has trained basketball players at all levels for the past 10 years. He said it's something he loves and is motivated to work each guy to the max.

IMG is hosting four players who are projected to be selected in the draft: former Duke Blue Devil Rodney Hood, New Mexico State's Alex Kirk, University of Tennessee forward Jarnell Stokes and University of Florida Gator Patric Young.

Hood, who just finished his sophomore season at Duke, is projected to go in the top 15, while Stokes and Young are expected to go early in the second round. Kirk is a late second-round projection.

"Coach challenges us and holds us accountable," Stokes said.

Coach Barto tries to convey to his guys that being irresponsible can cost them at the next level.

"They have to understand that making mistakes at this point could cost them millions," Barto said.

The program is above and beyond what any player will find elsewhere, the players said.

"It just helps set up success," Kirk said. "From the structure, to the interviewing class and vision testing."

IMG provides each player with a training staff and nutritionist.

"Everything is so close, I love it," Kirk said.

Young, who averaged 11 points and 6.2 rebounds per game as a senior for the Gators, is excited about the experience.

"I'm just really fortunate to be here. This place offers no distractions. I can focus on just ball," Young said.

IMG also will host players who are in the NBA and come back to polish their games. Guys like Orlando Magic's Romero Osby and New York Knicks Iman Shumpert are found in the gym putting up shots with Bartow.

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