Kentucky dominates NBA draft

Kentucky became the first school to have players drafted with the first two overall picks of the NBA draft, and the Washington Wizards made another SEC freshman – St. Louis Chaminade graduate Brad Beal – the No. 3 overall pick.
The New Orleans Hornets took Wildcats freshman forward Anthony Davis with the first pick of the draft, and the Charlotte Bobcats followed by picking fellow Kentucky freshman Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.
Davis, a 6-foot-11, 220-pound forward, averaged 14.2 points, 10.4 rebounds last season for Kentucky. He was named the Naismith College Player of the Year as the Wildcats won the national title.
Davis was pretty much a lock at No. 1, but Kidd-Gilchrist going No. 2 was somewhat of a surprise. A defensive-minded player like Davis, Kidd-Gilchrist was described by Kentucky coach John Calipari as the Wildcats’ hardest worker.
Beal went next. As a freshman last season at Florida, Beal averaged 14.8 points and a team-high 6.7 rebounds. He also led the Gators, which advanced to the Elite 8 in the NCAA tournament, in steals and minutes.
Beal, who turned 19 on Thursday, had about 30 relatives with him at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J. He was the first guard chosen in the draft.
The Wizards went 20-46 last season, better than only Charlotte (7-59) in both the Southeast Division and the Eastern Conference. John Wall, the No. 1 overall pick in 2010, led Washington with 16.3 points and eight rebounds per game. Nick Young averaged a team-high 16.6 points before he was traded to the Los Angeles Clippers in March. In return, the Wizards got Nene from the Denver Nuggets.
Draft experts consider Beal a good fit for the offense-deprived Wizards. He’s considered one of the best perimeter shooters in the draft, and though he struggled from outside early last season, Beal made 10 of 19 from 3-point range in the NCAA tournament. He also is friends with Wall.
Wall ” loves to play fast,” Beal told the Post-Dispatch’s Stu Durando earlier this week. “I believe (the Wizards’) style is pretty quick, and that’s the style I want to play. I love to get up and down and put pressure on defense.”
Of players originally from St. Louis, only Steve Stipanovich was drafted higher. Indiana took him No. 2 in 1983.
The last St. Louis player drafted so high was East St. Louis High graduate Darius Miles, picked No. 3 in 2000. Other St. Louis players picked early in the draft include LaPhonso Ellis (No. 5, 1992), Ed Macauley (No. 5, 1949), Larry Hughes (No. 8, 1998) and Jojo White (No. 9, 1969).
The Portland Trail Blazers picked 7-foot-1 Illinois center Meyers Leonard with the No. 11 pick. As a sophomore last season, Leonard averaged 13.6 points and 8.2 rebounds while shooting 58 percent. Given his inconsistency, Leonard was one of the big questions of the draft. His draft prospects apparently improved in workouts this past week.
Leonard knew Portland needed a center, and after the team picked Weber State guard Damian Lillard with the No. 6 overall pick, he was confident Portland would call his name.
“I impressed people on the court with my ability to shoot the ball, and off the court I was very professional and mature,” he said. “I showed up in a suit and was straightforward with my answers and just came across, I believe, as articulate and really blew some teams away. It was a combination of things that really helped by draft stock.”
The Trail Blazers were 28-38 last season, parting ways with oft-injured Greg Oden, the No. 1 pick in 2007 They also lost Brandon Roy at age 27 to a degenerative knee condition.
Missouri guard Kim English will play for the Detroit Pistons after getting picked with the No. 44 overall pick, No. 14 in the second round. English entered the draft last year but returned to Missouri for his senior season. The 6-foot-6 guard averaged 14.5 points while playing as a forward for most of Missouri’s 30-5 season. He also had a successful spring in the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament in Virginia.
“It was a long, exhilarating experience,” English said. “It was definitely nerve-wracking on draft night because I know the teams I performed well for, but so much can happen. I was playing the numbers game, but … I’m blessed.
“Detroit’s a really good situation for me in my position.”
The San Antonio Spurs drafted Marcus Denmon, another Missouri guard, with the No. 59 and second-last pick of the draft.
Kentucky had four players drafted in the first round. After Anthony and Kidd-Gilchrist, forward Terrence Jones was picked No. 18 by the Houston Rockets, and guard Marquis Teague went at No. 29 to Chicago. North Carolina’s draft class arguably was just as impressive. The Tar Heels also had four players picked: Harrison Barnes (No. 8, Golden State), Kendall Marshall (No. 13, Phoenix), John Henson (No. 14, Milwaukee) and Tyler Zeller (No. 17, Cleveland).

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