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Kentucky sets first-round record

Associated Press


NEW YORK (AP) — Kentucky dominated the first round of Thursday night’s NBA draft and passed some other powerful college programs with the five players selected.

John Wall, the overall No. 1 pick by the Washington Wizards, DeMarcus Cousins, the fifth pick by Sacramento, Patrick Patterson, the 14th selection by Houston, Eric Bledsoe, the 18th pick by Oklahoma City, and Daniel Orton, the 29th selection by Orlando, all left Kentucky with eligibility remaining and were all taken in the first round of the draft.

Three schools had four players taken in the first round. Duke had overall No. 1 pick Elton Brand, Trajan Langdon, Corey Maggette and William Avery taken in 1999. North Carolina had Marvin Williams, Raymond Felton, Sean May and Rashad McCants selected in 2005. The next year Connecticut had Rudy Gay, Hilton Armstrong, Marcus Williams and Josh Boone all go in the first round.

“As far as all of us being in the draft, it’s just a great accomplishment for all of us, individually, and especially for the University of Kentucky, Coach (John) Calipari and the coaching staff,” Patterson said. “We made a new milestone, set history with five.”

Patterson, a junior, was the only non-freshman of the group. Wall and Cousins were both selected to The Associated Press’ All-America team. Orton wasn’t even a starter, averaging 3.4 points and 3.3 rebounds.

REALLY BIG 12: The Big 12, which was almost broken apart by various conference movements last week, had a big day at the NBA draft, leading the way with seven players selected in the first round.

The Southeastern Conference was next with five – all from Kentucky – while the Atlantic Coast Conference and Big East both had four. The only other conference to have more than one player taken in the first round was the Western Athletic with two.

Besides Kentucky’s record run of five first-rounders the only schools with more than one selection were Kansas and Texas, which both had two.

FEWER INTERNATIONALS: Five seniors were selected in the first round, one less than last year’s draft. There were six freshmen taken in the top 30, two more than last year and four less than the record set in 2008.

The one big difference in the first round from last year was that only one international player – Kevin Seraphin of France – was taken, five less than last year.

MOM FIRST: The first person the first pick went to was his mother.

John Wall turned and hugged his mother when Commissioner David Stern announced that the Kentucky freshman had been selected No. 1 overall by the Washington Wizards.

“I can’t even, words can’t even explain right now,” Wall said as he talked of his mother, Frances Pulley, who raised him in Raleigh, N.C. “Growing up I lived in a tough neighborhood, getting in trouble in school, especially when my dad passed. So my mom taking me to school and picked up in the afternoon, that was it. As a kid, 10, 11 years old, you want to see your family spend time and (we) didn’t really have it. She was the first lady, she says, if you don’t change your attitude, you’ll never be doing so for her, to be in some situation, means a lot to me and I love her to death.”

FAMILY WAY: When Ed Davis was selected by the Toronto Raptors with the 13th pick of the first round, it meant the draft’s father-son legacy would last another year.

This is the eighth straight year that the son of a former NBA player was taken in the draft.

Davis, who left North Carolina after his junior year, is the son of Terry Davis, who played 10 seasons in the NBA with Miami, Dallas, Denver and Washington.

Andy Rautins of Syracuse, the son of former NBA player Leo Rautins, was taken by the New York Knicks in the second round.

The rest of the streak is: Mike Dunleavy in 2002, Luke Walton in 2003, Jackson Vroman in 2004, Sean May in 2005, Ronnie Brewer in 2006, Al Horford in 2007, Patrick Ewing Jr. in 2008, Stephen Curry, Gerald Henderson and Austin Daye in 2009.

There was almost another father-son combination to add to this year’s list. Quincy Pondexter of Washington was taken 26th by the Oklahoma City Thunder. His father, Roscoe, was a third-round pick of the Boston Celtics in 1974 but he never played in the NBA, opting for a professional career in Europe.

TOP FIVES: John Wall, the No. 1 pick, and DeMarcus Cousins, the fifth pick, are the fifth set of teammates taken in the top five since 2002.

The others were: Duke’s Jay Williams (2) and Mike Dunleavy (3) in 2002; Connecticut’s Emeka Okafor (2) and Ben Gordon (3) in 2004; North Carolina’s Marvin Williams (2) and Raymond Felton (5) in 2005; and UCLA’s Russell Westbrook (4) and Kevin Love (5) in 2008.

COMING BACK: A total of 103 players applied for early entry to the draft this season and 55 kept their names in the mix after the last date to withdraw. The original list included 80 college players and 23 international players.

Of those that stayed in the draft, 50 are from the college ranks and five are international players.

POINT GUARDS: When John Wall was taken first overall by the Washington Wizards he became the third guard taken with the No. 1 pick in 14 years.

Allen Iverson of Georgetown was taken first by the Philadelphia 76ers in 1996, and Derrick Rose of Memphis was the No. 1 pick by the Chicago Bulls in 2008.

Wall and Rose had something else in common: in their one year of college they were both coached by John Calipari. Rose led Memphis to the national championship game with Calipari on the bench and Wall led the Wildcats to the regional finals this season, Calipari’s first at Kentucky.

“Coach taught me a lot and I became a better leader vocally,” Wall said of Calipari. “I was always a leader by example being the first in the gym and the last in the gym and working hard, but I’m a leader that won’t mind speaking up to the older guys.”

FIRST NO. 1: In a fact that could win a lot of bar bets, John Wall was the first Kentucky player taken as the overall No. 1 draft pick.

The highest a Kentucky player was drafted had been in 1984 when the Portland Trail Blazers took Sam Bowie one pick after the Houston Rockets took Hakeem Olajuwon and one before the Chicago Bulls selected Michael Jordan.

Since the 1966 draft seven schools have had two players taken with the No. 1 pick: Maryland (Joe Smith, John Lucas), North Carolina (Brad Daugherty, James Worthy), Michigan (Chris Webber, Cazzie Russell), Georgetown (Allen Iverson, Patrick Ewing), Purdue (Glenn Robinson, Joe Barry Carroll), Houston (Hakeem Olajuwon, Elvin Hayes), UCLA (Bill Walton, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar).

NICE THREADS: The competition among the players on draft night is all about off the court, as in what they are wearing. This year’s version of Mr. Blackstone was Kansas freshman Xavier Henry, the 12th pick by the Memphis Grizzlies.

Wesley Johnson of Syracuse, who was selected fourth by the Minnesota Timberwolves, had on an interesting pair of pants to say the least with a checkered pattern last seen on golf courses in the 1970s.

“I didn’t know if he had pajama pants or are they sleeping pants or sweat pants or something,” Henry said. “He pulled it off. He had a top to match it. He looked good tonight. Whoever did his shoot, he should tell them thank you.

“I liked John Wall’s suit, a nice shade of blue; (teammate) Cole’s (Aldrich) suit – we got them done by the same people so they are similar. I think everybody came out happy for a great occasion.”

OLD DAYS: For those who thought watching the NBA draft all through two rounds was a bit much think back to the old days when the draft went as long as 20 rounds in 1973. Teams were allowed to keep picking players as long as they wanted and the Buffalo Braves selected 20 players that year, one less than the number of wins they had the previous season.

In 1974, the league put a 10-round limit on the draft and it was trimmed to seven rounds in 1985. The draft went to three rounds in 1988 and to its current length in 1989.

By the way, that player who was the only one taken in the only 20th round ever conducted was Phil Tollestrop of BYU.

BUTLER DID IT: Gordon Hayward was the first Butler player selected in the NBA draft since Ralph O’Brien was taken by the Indianapolis Olympians in 1950. Billy Shepherd, the school’s all-time leading scorer, played in the ABA from 1972-75.

Hayward, whose halfcourt shot hit the rim at the end of the national championship game and left Duke with a 61-59 victory, was taken with the ninth pick by the Utah Jazz.

Hayward left the Bulldogs after two seasons.

“Toughest decision I ever had to make, and a lot of that was just because of the people at Butler, the fact we had everyone coming back,” said Hayward, who grew up 20 minutes from the Butler campus in Indianapolis. “They are phenomenal people and they do things the right way and it’s just a great program, a great program.”

NEW CLIPPER: Al-Farouq Aminu was property of the Los Angeles Clippers for less than 20 minutes when someone asked him a question about the NBA’s most futile franchise.

“I guess every team has a history either good or bad,” the Wake Forest sophomore said after being taken eighth by the Clippers, the team that sends a representative to the draft lottery almost every year. “When you’re drafted, you just try your best to change it for the good. That’s what I’m trying to do.”

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