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Grizzlies select Hasheem Thabeet with No. 2 Pick in 2009 NBA Draft

Memphis, Tennessee, June 26, 2009 - The Memphis Grizzlies selected University of Connecticut center Hasheem Thabeet (Ha-SHEEM THA-beet) with the second overall pick, Missouri forward DeMarre Carroll (duh-MAR-ray) with the 27th pick and Pittsburgh swingman Sam Young with the 36th pick in the 2009 NBA Draft, Grizzlies General Manager and Vice President of Basketball Operations Chris Wallace announced.

“We are very excited about the draft,” Wallace said. “Hasheem Thabeet is the best defensive center this franchise has had since its inception. We felt that a player of his size and defensive capability doesn’t come waltzing down Beale Street every year to play for us. We had to take him.

“We are very excited about the arrival of these three players and feel they are going to make a big impact on our defense, toughness and athleticism as well as bolster our bench.”

View photos from Draft night.

Thabeet, the 2008-09 Big East Co-Player of the Year along with Pittsburgh’s DeJuan Blair, led Connecticut

Memphis, Tennessee, June 26, 2009 - The Memphis Grizzlies selected University of Connecticut center Hasheem Thabeet (Ha-SHEEM THA-beet) with the second overall pick, Missouri forward DeMarre Carroll (duh-MAR-ray) with the 27th pick and Pittsburgh swingman Sam Young with the 36th pick in the 2009 NBA Draft, Grizzlies General Manager and Vice President of Basketball Operations Chris Wallace announced.

“We are very excited about the draft,” Wallace said. “Hasheem Thabeet is the best defensive center this franchise has had since its inception. We felt that a player of his size and defensive capability doesn’t come waltzing down Beale Street every year to play for us. We had to take him.

“We are very excited about the arrival of these three players and feel they are going to make a big impact on our defense, toughness and athleticism as well as bolster our bench.”

Thabeet, the 2008-09 Big East Co-Player of the Year along with Pittsburgh’s DeJuan Blair, led Connecticut in rebounding (10.9), blocked shots (4.2, second in the nation) and field goal percentage (.643) in guiding the Huskies to their first Final Four appearance since 2004. A finalist this season for the Oscar Robertson and Naismith National Player of the Year Awards, he also captured the Big East Defensive Player of the Year Award for the second-straight season, making him the first player to win the award in consecutive years since UConn’s Emeka Okafor (2003, 2004), who was chosen second overall by the Charlotte Bobcats in the 2004 NBA Draft.

The 7-3, 263-pound defensive anchor leaves Connecticut ranked second on the all-time Big East blocks list (243) behind Patrick Ewing and holds the conference’s single-season record for swats in league games (94 in 2007-08), besting the old record (93) previously held by Georgetown’s Alonzo Mourning.

The two-time National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) Defensive Player of the Year (2008, 2009) also shares the school record for blocked shots in a game with 10, having reached the total on three separate occasions, including a 15-point, 11-rebound, 10-block performance on Jan. 31, 2009 vs. Providence, the seventh triple-double in UConn history. Had Thabeet returned to school for his senior season, he was on pace to break the all-time NCAA record for blocks, currently held by Wojciech Myrda of Louisiana-Monroe (535 from 1999-02).

Though he did not start playing basketball until he was 15 years old, Thabeet has shown rapid improvement, averaging 13.6 points in his final collegiate season and sitting atop Connecticut leader boards in career field goal percentage (.611).

A native of Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, Thabeet finished his high school career at Cypress Christian High School in Houston. The tallest player in UConn history, he now is slated to become the tallest player in Grizzlies history.

Read comments from Hasheem Thabeet on the Draft.

With the team’s 27th pick, the Grizzlies selected Carroll, a 2009 First Team All-Big 12 selection. The 6-8, 212-pound senior led Missouri in scoring (16.6 points) and rebounding (7.2) last season, guiding the Tigers to their first Big 12 Tournament title in 16 years and earning the Big 12 Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player Award.

The 22-year-old recorded 17 points, six rebounds, six assists and five three-pointers in the Sweet 16 against the University of Memphis, advancing Missouri to the Elite Eight.

“DeMarre Carroll is someone we have been watching for quite some time,” Wallace said. “We love his toughness, intangibles and defensive ability. He was the best defender we had in all of our draft workouts.”

With the team’s 36th pick, Memphis took Pittsburgh swingman Young, a two-time First Team All-Big East selection. The 24-year-old, who leaves the Panthers as the school’s fourth all-time leading scorer (1,884), posted a team-high 19.2 points along with 6.3 rebounds last season.

“Sam Young is going to add to our athleticism, defense and overall toughness,” Wallace said. “He is also a good scorer. He was First Team All-Big East, the strongest conference in the country.”

The 6-6, 220-pound senior raised his game in the NCAA Tournament, posting 23.3 points in four games in the 2009 tourney and averaging 20.0 points in four games in 2008. His 32 points on March 22, 2009 vs. Oklahoma State in the Second Round set a school tournament record.

The 7-3, 263-pound defensive anchor leaves Connecticut ranked second on the all-time Big East blocks list (243) behind Patrick Ewing and holds the conference’s single-season record for swats in league games (94 in 2007-08), besting the old record (93) previously held by Georgetown’s Alonzo Mourning.

The two-time National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) Defensive Player of the Year (2008, 2009) also shares the school record for blocked shots in a game with 10, having reached the total on three separate occasions, including a 15-point, 11-rebound, 10-block performance on Jan. 31, 2009 vs. Providence, the seventh triple-double in UConn history. Had Thabeet returned to school for his senior season, he was on pace to break the all-time NCAA record for blocks, currently held by Wojciech Myrda of Louisiana-Monroe (535 from 1999-02).

Though he did not start playing basketball until he was 15 years old, Thabeet has shown rapid improvement, averaging 13.6 points in his final collegiate season and sitting atop Connecticut leader boards in career field goal percentage (.611).

A native of Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, Thabeet finished his high school career at Cypress Christian High School in Houston. The tallest player in UConn history, he now is slated to become the tallest player in Grizzlies history.

With the team’s 27th pick, the Grizzlies selected Carroll, a 2009 First Team All-Big 12 selection. The 6-8, 212-pound senior led Missouri in scoring (16.6 points) and rebounding (7.2) last season, guiding the Tigers to their first Big 12 Tournament title in 16 years and earning the Big 12 Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player Award.

The 22-year-old recorded 17 points, six rebounds, six assists and five three-pointers in the Sweet 16 against the University of Memphis, advancing Missouri to the Elite Eight.

“DeMarre Carroll is someone we have been watching for quite some time,” Wallace said. “We love his toughness, intangibles and defensive ability. He was the best defender we had in all of our draft workouts.”

With the team’s 36th pick, Memphis took Pittsburgh swingman Young, a two-time First Team All-Big East selection. The 24-year-old, who leaves the Panthers as the school’s fourth all-time leading scorer (1,884), posted a team-high 19.2 points along with 6.3 rebounds last season.

“Sam Young is going to add to our athleticism, defense and overall toughness,” Wallace said. “He is also a good scorer. He was First Team All-Big East, the strongest conference in the country.”

The 6-6, 220-pound senior raised his game in the NCAA Tournament, posting 23.3 points in four games in the 2009 tourney and averaging 20.0 points in four games in 2008. His 32 points on March 22, 2009 vs. Oklahoma State in the Second Round set a school tournament record.

Listen to and read commnets from: Coach Hollins. | Chris Wallace. | Hasheem Thabeet.