Ed Gregory is one of the guys sitting along press row at college basketball games. But what he writes isn't published in any paper and it costs the people who do read it a lot more than 25 cents.
The Warriors employ Gregory as director of scouting. It's a great job if you love watching basketball games, don't get air-sick, and think room service is tastier than home-cooked.When Gregory isn't on the road - and he spends about half of every month from November to April piling up frequent flier miles - he's sure to be found scrutinizing the local talent.
So if you want to know who the best pro prospect is at Syracuse or Stanford, Gregory's the man to talk to.
The Warriors do not pay him a salary and expenses to share his expertise with any newspaperman who can afford a toll call, so the scout declined to specify which athletes he'll recommend the team draft this year. But he was willing to run through a short list of the seniors considered top pro prospects.
"I would say right now the best big man is Mutombo (Georgetown's Dikembe Mutombo)," Gregory said. "The second one would be Longley (New Mexico's Luc Longley).
"I like Mutombo better. He's really coming on. He's a project offensively, but he can really block shots and rebound. Longley's probably a little more skilled, but he's also a laid-back Australian-type. He's been inconsistent. They're the top guys of the big men," Gregory said.
"In the power forwards, I'd say (UNLV's) Larry Johnson probably will be No. 1. I don't think there's any secret about that. Doug Smith from Missouri has been a good player. Victor Alexander from Iowa State has been scoring well, but he's overweight, and I'm really not a fan because I don't know how dedicated he is. Dale Davis of Clemson is another big kid who was projected high but hasn't played well up to this point," Gregory said.
"Stacey Augmon has really helped himself in the small forward category. Really playing well for Vegas. Chris Gatling (of Old Dominion) is projected high, as is (North Carolina's) Rick Fox, although he's not one of my favorites. That's probably about it there.
"I think at big guard the kid from Michigan State, Steve Smith, is in a category by himself. Mark Macon (of Temple) is playing very well. LaBradford Smith (Louisville) is considered a good prospect. Again, not a favorite of mine," Gregory said.
"Then Greg Anthony (of UNLV) is considered high among the point guards. But to be honest, I haven't been watching them closely. I haven't seen one I really like. No one in the class of (the Warriors' Tim) Hardaway, or even close."
The most striking thing about that list is three players from No. 1 UNLV are on it. And Gregory thinks there's a good chance all three will be taken on the draft's initial round, which would be a first.
"I can't even remember when two players from the same team were taken in the first round," he said.
Gregory already has scouted the Runnin' Rebels. He's impressed. "Look what they've done so far," he said. "I haven't seen anybody come close against them. They haven't been tested yet. I think the only way Vegas gets beat in the (NCAA) Tournament is if they have an off-night and another team gets hot. And that can happen. But if Vegas is on, nobody can beat them."
Gregory also has scouted Santa Clara's Ron Reis. The Broncos' massive center may yet have the last laugh on everyone who said he had no business suiting up.
"And I know this. Seven-footers get a lot more chances than 6-5 guys. You can think of all the 7-footers who've been in the league six or seven years who probably don't deserve to be there that are still there. Somebody keeps picking them up because they're 7 feet tall."
Of course, there is one 7-footer who will be in the NBA as long as he wants. Gregory, asked who he would take if he could pick any college player regardless of class, didn't hesitate.
"If I could pick my guy? (LSU's) Shaquille O'Neal," the scout said. "I just think he's the next great center.
"The first thing I look for in a big guy is his feet. He's got great feet. When you get a guy who's got great feet - look at (the San Antonio Spurs') David Robinson - he can run, he can rebound, and he can block shots. So he can help your team."