Wizards choose Wall with No. 1 pick

June 25, 2010

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The Washington Wizards selected Kentucky point guard John Wall with the first overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft.

The 6-foot-4 Wall, the first Kentucky player selected No. 1 overall, completed his first collegiate campaign with 16.6 points, 4.3 rebounds and 6.5 assists per contest for the Wildcats, who fell to West Virginia in the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament.

“I feel like I had pressure since I became No. 1 in high school and was one of the top players,” Wall said. “I always got there hungry wanting to fight hard and compete in every game, so when I step on the court I’m going to take on any challenge there.”

The athletic floor general joins a Washington team that was plagued by bad play on the court and off-court issues last season, headlined by the suspension of Gilbert Arenas for bringing guns into the Verizon Center locker room.

“I feel like he needs the ball in his hands a lot but he did a great job at the point and we both did a great job this year and both have a chance to reach our dreams,” Wall said of Arenas.

The Wizards last had the No.1 overall selection in 2001 when they selected Kwame Brown, who never panned out in the nation’s capital.

Incredibly, Kentucky had five players taken in the first round, a record for the draft. DeMarcus Cousins went to Sacramento at No. 5, Patrick Patterson to Houston at No. 14 and Eric Bledsoe was originally taken by the Thunder with the 18th pick. Forward Daniel Orton was selected by Orlando at No. 29.

The Philadelphia 76ers, now under the guidance of new head coach Doug Collins, took Ohio State guard Evan Turner at No. 2.

“I’ve been looking forward to playing with him all my life,” Turner said of Collins. “He’s been a player that’s on top of the game at different stages of the game and coached some of the greatest players of all time and I can’t wait to learn from him.”

The 2010 Naismith and Wooden Award winner, Turner led the Big Ten in scoring (20.4 points) and rebounds (9.2) this past season while also averaging 5.9 assists and 2.0 steals per game. He missed a month’s worth of action after suffering a back injury on a hard fall to the floor in early December. Turner appeared in 101 games during his three years at Ohio State.

The 76ers were in need of a tall shooting guard and got their man in the 6- foot-7 Turner.

The New Jersey Nets, coming off a franchise-record 70-loss season, took Georgia Tech forward Derrick Favors with the third pick. The 6-foot-10 Atlanta native was named the ACC Rookie of the Year after ranking second on the team with averages of 12.4 points and 8.4 rebounds.

The Nets turned the page recently by naming former point guard Avery Johnson their new head coach, a move favored by Favors.

“One of the strongest parts of my game is playing defense, so I think he can help me become a better defender with the way that he coaches and he can really push me and make me the player that they think I’m going to be,” Favors said.

Minnesota, which entered the night with the most draft picks this year with five, took Syracuse forward Wesley Johnson at No. 4. Johnson, as a junior, was named Big East Player of the Year and a consensus All-American after averaging a team-high 16.5 points and 8.5 rebounds in 35 games for the Orange this past season. The 6-foot-7, 205-pound versatile forward spent the first two years of his collegiate career at Iowa State before transferring to Syracuse following the 2007-08 campaign.

Johnson joins ex-Syracuse teammate Jonny Flynn on the Timberwolves. Flynn was the sixth overall selection last year.

“Definitely looking forward to playing with him, the chemistry you have starting out to play with each other, he’s eager,” Johnson said. “Fortunate enough to be able to get drafted and play with him. I’m excited.”

Cousins became the second Kentucky freshman to be taken in the draft when he was picked by Sacramento. The 6-foot-11 center recorded 15.1 points and 9.9 rebounds per game with the Wildcats.

Five straight forwards were selected from picks six through 10. Baylor’s Ekpe Udoh was taken at No. 6 by Golden State, followed by Georgetown’s Greg Monroe being selected by Detroit. Wake Forest’s Al-Farouq Aminu was the pick of the Clippers at No. 8, Utah nabbed Butler’s Gordon Hayward, and Indiana grabbed Paul George out of Fresno State to complete the top 10.

Udoh, a 6-foot-10, 240-pounder, set Baylor and Big 12 Conference single-season records for blocked shots with 133 this past season while averaging 13.9 points, 9.8 rebounds and 2.7 assists in 36 games. He averaged 3.7 blocks per game.

Monroe completed his sophomore season at Georgetown by averaging 16.1 points and a team-best 9.6 rebounds, while Aminu became the first Wake Forest player to lead the conference in rebounding since Tim Duncan in 1997. Aminu averaged 15.8 points and 10.7 rebounds this past season.

Hayward, who also just finished his sophomore year, was at the forefront of Butler’s run to the title game against Duke. He averaged 15.5 points and 8.2 rebounds per contest.

George is coming off a sophomore season in which he was named to the second team All-Western Athletic Conference. Known for his great foul shooting, George also topped the Bulldogs with 16.8 ppg, 7.2 rpg and 64 steals.

Kansas players were taken at No. 11 and 12 with center Cole Aldrich originally going to New Orleans and guard Xavier Henry headed to Memphis. Aldrich, though was reportedly headed to Oklahoma City in a deal that included Morris Peterson going to the Thunder.

North Carolina forward Ed Davis was selected at No. 13 by Toronto, and Houston followed by taking Patterson. Virginia Commonwealth center Larry Sanders went next to Milwaukee and Nevada forward Luke Babbitt was taken by Minnesota at No. 16, but was sent to Portland as part of a three-player deal with Ryan Gomes joining the Blazers and Martell Webster going to the Timberwolves.

Power forward Kevin Seraphin from French Guiana was the 17th pick, but he’s not expected to remain with the Bulls. Reports indicate Seraphin is on his way to the Wizards as part of a trade that will send veteran guard Kirk Hinrich to Washington. The Bulls will reportedly receive a future second-round draft pick.

Bledsoe was also reportedly not going to stay with the club that drafted him as a proposed trade had him going to the Clippers for a future first-round pick.

Texas guard Avery Bradley was taken by the Boston Celtics at No. 19, and that was followed by the Spurs grabbing guard James Anderson out of Oklahoma State.

Portland took Memphis guard Elliot Williams 22nd.

This was also the latest a college senior was selected in the first round, as Clemson power forward Trevor Booker was taken at No. 23 by Minnesota. Booker, though was expected to be part of a four-player deal, and will reportedly end up with the Wizards.

Atlanta drafted Texas forward Damion James with the 24th pick, but he was traded to New Jersey. In the deal the Hawks will get Jordan Crawford, of Xavier. Crawford was picked 27th.

Memphis took South Florida guard Dominique Jones at No. 25, then turned around and dealt him to Dallas for cash considerations. Quincy Pondexter, a forward from the University of Washington, was taken 26th, but was reportedly part of the Peterson deal and will end up in New Orleans.

Maryland point guard Greivis Vasquez was selected 28th by the Grizzlies, and after Orton was taken, Marquette’s Lazar Hayward was grabbed at 30th by the Wizards to complete the first round. Hayward wasn’t expected to remain with Washington as he’s reportedly part of a four-player deal and will go to Minnesota.


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