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Harangody has lots to do at Celtics summer camp

Danny Ainge hands out a jersey to draftee Luke Harangody; he’s said if Harangody has a roster spot next season, he will have really earned it. Danny Ainge hands out a jersey to draftee Luke Harangody; he’s said if Harangody has a roster spot next season, he will have really earned it. (Josh Reynolds/Associated Press)
By Julian Benbow
Globe Staff / July 5, 2010

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ORLANDO, Fla. — Luke Harangody understands as well as anyone that there are no guarantees.

The Celtics took him with the 52d pick in the draft June 24. They flew him up to Boston along with their first-round pick, Avery Bradley. They praised the forward for not only carrying his team at the University of Notre Dame but doing the little things they put a premium on — rebounding, diving for loose balls, winning the 50/50 plays.

They mentioned the list of second-rounders they had mined in past drafts (Glen Davis in 2007, Leon Powe in 2006, Ryan Gomes in 2005), suggesting Harangody had all the qualities to be next in line. They flew him down to Florida, where he’s working out with their other 11 summer leaguers.

But Harangody knows he’s no different from anyone else here. Like everyone else on the summer league roster, he’s fighting for a contract. The games the Celtics will play over the next five days are an opportunity to show his stuff.

“It’s nice to hear,’’ Harangody said about the praise. “But organizations have easily let guys go after drafting them in the second round, so I know I can’t come out here and mess around. I’ve got to come out here and make this team.

“The way I approach it is I have to do everything possible to make this team just like everyone else out here. Being picked in the second round means nothing. There are no guarantees. I have to do everything I think I can to make this team.’’

Harangody came out of the draft process feeling slighted, not just this year but the year before when he entered early but ultimately pulled out after hearing that he’d likely be a second-round pick. He finished his senior season with the Irish as the only player in the history of the Big East to average 20 points and 10 rebounds for his career, but pro evaluators wondered how his game would translate to the NBA.

At 6 feet 8 inches, the knock on Harangody was that he was too small to defend at the professional level. But joining a Celtics team built on defense only has made him want to focus on that side of the ball more.

“That’s obviously one of the big question marks about me, whether I can guard out there,’’ Harangody said. “The Celtics put a huge emphasis on it, positioning and where you’re at on the floor. I’m aware of that — what I need to do out there. And they need to see me guard out there.

“I’m strong enough to push a guy off the block, but at times I’m out of position. An organization like this, they’re so focused on the defensive end you kind of know you’ve got to come in and do your thing.’’

The summer league squad has practiced four times in the last three days, cramming as much information in as possible before their first game today against a loaded Thunder squad. Defense might have been a priority, but yesterday Harangody flashed his offensive game, flying up and down the floor and finishing fast breaks.

“He really runs the floor well,’’ said summer league coach Austin Ainge. “That big body, you wouldn’t expect it, but he gets up and goes. He really runs the floor. He’s got a knack for finding places to score. I guess if you score 25 points a game in college, there’s a reason for it.’’

It was as close to comfortable as Harangody could look in a situation in which he knows he has to impress. But what Celtics president Danny Ainge said he liked about Harangody is that he feels the need to show his worth every time he’s on the floor.

“In this business, he’ll find out soon that you’ve got to show your work every day until you reach a certain level,’’ Danny Ainge said. “Even if you’re a first-round pick, you’ve got to prove yourself to get time. You’ve got to prove yourself every day that you’re worthy of your position. I think Luke will find out that the competition is tough and you’ve got to earn your stripes every day in this business.’’

Harangody’s top priority this summer is to earn a roster spot. Until then, he won’t be able to rest.

“I’ll be comfortable if and when I get a contract,’’ Harangody said. “That’s when I’ll relax.’’

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