Kim English wasn't a lock to still be here this summer, jetting between NBA cities and workouts in advance of the June 28 draft. Jorge Gutierrez wasn't sure he would be at all.
The Kings matched up English and Gutierrez at their pre-draft workout Tuesday, which was nothing new to the two guards, who first crossed paths as college freshmen.
English, out of Missouri, is the likeliest draft pick of the six players at the workout that included guards Bradford Burgess (VCU) and James Nunnally (UC Santa Barbara) and forwards Dominique Ferguson (Florida International) and Troy Gillenwater (New Mexico State).
He and Gutierrez, out of Cal, were asked to run the point in three-on-three drills Tuesday, English said. It remains to be seen if the Kings will use one of their two draft picks to add to a backcourt that is already crowded.
A touted shooter projected to go in the second round, English originally announced last spring that he planned to declare for the 2011 draft. But he withdrew his name and returned to Missouri for his senior season. The feedback from teams, he said, was that he wasn't ready for the NBA.
"I wasn't," English said.
As a senior, he averaged 14.5 points and 4.2 rebounds, shooting 52.1 percent from the floor and 45.9 percent from three-point range.
"I really studied the game and learned how I could be more of an efficient player," English said. "I worked on shooting the ball the same way every time, scoring in small spaces, defending."
This time around the pre-draft process, he has some familiarity with the sets and systems. And the feedback has been better, he said, "but I don't believe too much until I hear my name on draft night."
His playing style differs from that of Gutierrez, who at 6-foot-3 and 195 pounds was a stifling defender at Cal who countered what he lacked in athleticism with hustle and grit.
Gutierrez was named the Pacific-12 Conference's Player of the Year and top defensive player after his senior season, in which he averaged 13 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.1 assists. He moved alone to the United States from Mexico as a teenager to pursue basketball, but he said Tuesday he didn't always have designs on playing in the NBA.
"Not really," Gutierrez said. "It has always been a struggle, every day, and for me it was always to improve every day, see what it takes the next day."
There is the question of whether his game translates to the next level, but now that he is working out for NBA teams, Gutierrez said he wants to show he belongs.
"I don't really know what they're looking for," he said. "I just want a chance to prove I can play."
He has a fan in English. Before encountering each other at pre-draft activities, the two guards met twice in college, most recently in Missouri's 92-53 dismantling of Cal in November. English led Missouri with 19 points in that game, while Gutierrez scored 11 before fouling out.
Of Gutierrez, English said, "He's a tough, gritty guard. I love his game."
Gutierrez, in turn, called English a "great player."