Maggette makes return to Midwest

‘Recruiting visit’ won forward over

By Truman Reed

Garrett Temple

Until last June, Corey Maggette had never heard himself linked in any way to the Bucks, but that changed in a hurry.

Basketball recruiting most commonly involves high school players being sought and scouted by college coaches with the prospect of bringing them into their programs.

But not always.

If it weren't for a "recruiting pitch" by Milwaukee Bucks General Manager John Hammond and Head Coach Scott Skiles, Corey Maggette may never have become a Buck.

Until last June, Maggette had never heard himself linked in any way to the Bucks, but that changed in a hurry. Milwaukee management was attempting to work a deal with the Golden State Warriors, whose roster Maggette was on at the time.

“I had an opportunity to talk to John and Scott,” Maggette said. “At the end of the day, they gave me a choice. They told me, 'If you want to be here, we'll get you here.'

“It was great to actually talk to the guys and feel comfortable about it. So at the end of the day, it was a good decision."

The teams went ahead last June 22 and made the trade, in which the Bucks received Maggette and a 2010 second-round draft pick (44th overall) in exchange for Charlie Bell and Dan Gadzuric.

Hammond and Maggette had ties dating back to 2000, when Hammond was an assistant coach and Maggette a player for the Los Angeles Clippers.

They apparently left positive impressions on each other.

Maggette was asked prior to beginning his first camp with the Bucks what he felt it was that made Milwaukee a good fit for him. He was quick to respond.

"I think because I have such a good relationship with John Hammond and I totally respect Scott Skiles,” he said. “If it's about playing basketball, you want to go where you have the best opportunity to win and be successful. And this is a great opportunity.

“The guys here are young, but they want to win. They're very competitive and very confident. I'm just looking forward to playing with these guys. I believe in Scott and I believe in John, and now I believe in my teammates."

There was a fringe benefit for Maggette to come to Milwaukee.

The 6 foot, 6 inch, 225-pound forward grew up in suburban Chicago and attended Fenwick High School in Oak Park, Ill., where he became a three-time Parade All-American in basketball and earned four letters in the sport and two more in track and field.

Maggette, as a senior, led the Fenwick Friars to their lone appearance in the Elite Eight of the Illinois state tournament as a senior in 1998. They lost to Maine West 76-64 in the Class AA state quarterfinals in Peoria.

During Maggette’s career at Fenwick, the Friars went 92-24 and won four straight Chicago Catholic League titles. He scored 2,350 points and grabbed 1,100 rebounds during his prep career, and he had his jersey No. 50 retired by the school in 2009.

Maggette collected 35 points and 18 rebounds and was named most valuable player of the Wendy's Classic as a senior and took part in the 1998 McDonald’s All-American Game.

When the news broke that Maggette had become a Milwaukee Buck, it spread fast among his family and friends that he would be playing just 90 miles north of his hometown.

"I've got tons of family an hour and 45 minutes away,” Maggette said shortly after his arrival in Milwaukee. “That'll be great to have a lot of my family and friends come up to visit and not have to stay up so late to watch games (as they did when Maggette played for the Clippers and Warriors). That will be totally different for me. I'm really looking forward to that.

"I started getting calls and texts right away, like, 'Man, you've got to get me tickets to that Miami game.,' But that's OK."

The Bucks, meanwhile, were getting an 11-year National Basketball Association veteran who had averaged 16.6 points and 5.1 rebounds over those years.

He broke into the league in 1999 after playing one season at Duke University, where he averaged 10.6 points and 3.9 rebounds, made the all-Atlantic Coast Conference Rookie Team and helped the Blue Devils achieve a runner-up finish in the NCAA Tournament.

Maggette was drafted by the Seattle SuperSonics with the 13th overall selection in the 1999 NBA Draft. His rights were traded the same day along with Dale Ellis, Don McLean and Billy Owens to Orlando in exchange for Horace Grant, a 2000 second-round draft pick and a 2001 second-round draft pick.

Corey averaged 8.4 points and 3.9 rebounds in his rookie season with the Magic before being dealt June 28, 2000, along with current Bucks teammate Keyon Dooling, Derek Strong and a 2000 second-round pick to the Clippers for a 2006 first-round pick.

He spent the ensuing eight seasons with the Clippers, averaging career bests of 22.2 points and 6 rebounds per outing in 2004-05.

Maggette inked a free-agent contract with Golden State on July 10, 2008 and averaged 18.6 and 19.8 points per game in two seasons with the Warriors.

Despite the fact that he was a No. 1 or No. 2 option during most of the years he spent playing in the Western Conference, Maggette took a team-first approach when asked about his prospects upon arriving in Milwaukee.

"The core of this team is still here,” he said. “I'm just an addition to this team to try to help the ballclub. I'm here to help out, maybe get us to the foul line more often.

“But I'm just an addition.”

The addition, still recovering from offseason ankle surgery, got off to a slow start with his new team, but his minutes and his points have been mounting lately.

Visit again soon for Part II of this series.