The Golden State Warriors drafted Ike Diogu
, a forward from Arizona State University, Monta Ellis
, a high school guard from Jackson, Mississippi, and Chris Taft
, a forward from Pittsburgh, in this evening’s NBA Draft. The league’s annual selection process took place in the Theatre at Madison Square Garden in New York, NY, with the Warriors basketball operations staff - led by Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations Chris Mullin - operating from the team’s draft headquarters in downtown Oakland.
With the ninth overall pick in the draft, Golden State tabbed the 21-year-old Diogu, an early entry candidate who earned Pac-10 Player of the Year honors as a junior in 2004-05 after finishing the season tied for fifth in the country in scoring (22.6 ppg). The 6-8, 255-pound forward also earned consensus Second Team All-America honors following his junior season, becoming the first player in school history to earn such a distinction. He led the Pac-10 in scoring (22.6 ppg), rebounding (9.8 rpg) and blocked shots (2.34 bpg) as a junior, after also leading the conference in scoring as a sophomore (22.8 ppg), which made him the first player to pace the conference in scoring in consecutive years since Stan Love did so for Oregon from 1969-71. In 91 career games over three seasons, Diogu averaged 21.4 points, 8.8 rebounds, 1.2 assists and 1.68 blocks per contest, while shooting 57.1% from the field and 78.6% from the free throw line.
“We are extremely happy that we were able to select Ike Diogu,” Mullin said. “He had a tremendous college career and we feel that his toughness, rebounding and low post scoring ability are things that will help our team. Not only did we like him as a player entering the draft, but he also fills a need on our team as we continue to grow and improve.”
Using the 40th overall pick in the draft (10th in the second round), Golden State selected Ellis, a 19-year-old guard from Lanier High School. A 2005 McDonald’s All-American, he was one of 10 finalists for the Naismith Award, which is given annually to the nation’s top high school player. He was named Mr. Basketball in the state of Mississippi following his senior season, in which averaged 38.4 points, 6.9 rebounds, 7.9 assists and 4.5 steals while leading his team to a 35-2 record and the Class 4A state championship. He scored a career-high 72 points against Greenwood and tallied 42 points against Oak Hilll Academy, which was ranked #1 in the nation by USA Today. Overall during his four-year scholastic career, the 6-3, 175-pound guard racked up 4,167 points (second all-time in Mississippi history among big-school players) and helped leaded his team to four consecutive trips to the state championship finals, where they captured two titles (2002, 2005).
“We felt very fortunate to be able to take Monta Ellis in the second round,” Mullin said. “We didn’t think he would be available at this point in the draft, and when he was there we thought it would be a good investment. He’s a very talented player and we look forward to watching him develop and helping him grow.”
Using the 42nd overall pick in the draft (12th in the second round), the Warriors selected 20-year-old Pittsburgh forward Chris Taft. An early entry candidate after playing two seasons for the Panthers, Taft led the Big East and ranked 22nd in the country with a .580 field goal percentage as a sophomore. He also averaged 13.3 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.72 blocks in his second season, en route to earning All-Big East Honorable Mention honors. As a freshman, he was named Big East Rookie of the Year and was a unanimous selection to the Big East All-Rookie Team after averaging 10.9 points 7.5 rebounds and 1.67 blocks per contest. The 6-10, 260-pounder left school ranked sixth on Pittsburgh’s career blocked shots list with 110 blocks.
“Again, with Chris Taft, we were pleasantly surprised that he was available at this pick,” Mullin said. “He is another young, talented player who brings size and toughness - which were areas we were looking to address.”