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CLEVELAND, OH - June 28, 2012 - The Cleveland Cavaliers selected guard Dion Waiters with the fourth overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft and acquired the draft rights to forward/center Tyler Zeller, the 17th overall pick, and guard/forward Kelenna Azubuike from the Dallas Mavericks in exchange for the 24th, 33rd and 34th overall picks of the 2012 NBA Draft.
“We knew we needed to add scoring and more playmaking and we were able to do that with Dion,” said Cavaliers General Manager Chris Grant. “He’s an aggressive, athletic, explosive player that is a great fit for our team. We also knew we needed another big man that can shoot, rebound, defend and get up and down the court with our style of play. We were able to do that with Tyler and we feel he is also a great fit for our team.”
Waiters, 20, was named the Big East Sixth Man of the Year and earned Third Team All-Big East honors after averaging 12.6 points on .476 shooting, 2.3 rebounds and 2.5 assists in 24.1 minutes per game and leading Syracuse to a 34-3 record and spot in the Elite 8 this season. The 6-foot-4, 221-pound guard also led the Orange in steals (1.8) and scored in double figures in 26 of the 37 games he played in as a sophomore. He scored a career-high 28 points on 8-16 (.500) shooting, including shooting 7-10 (.700) from three-point range, in 32 minutes against Cincinnati in the Big East Tournament. He also tallied 19 points, five rebounds, four assists and a career-best six steals in 21 minutes versus George Washington on Dec. 10. As a freshman, he averaged 6.6 points on .411 shooting, 1.6 rebounds and 1.5 assists in 16.3 minutes in 34 games.
Zeller, 22, earned ACC Player of the Year honors as a senior in 2011-12, becoming the first UNC senior to do so since 1978 (Phil Ford). The 7-foot, 250-pound forward/center also earned AP Second Team All-American honors and was named a finalist for the John R. Wooden Award, which celebrates the most outstanding player in college basketball. In 38 games (all starts), he averaged 16.3 points on .553 shooting, 9.6 rebounds and 1.5 blocks in 28.2 minutes per game, helping the Tarheels reach the Elite 8. During ACC play, he led the conference in field goal percentage (.569) and offensive rebounds (4.0) while ranking second in rebounding (9.7) and third in scoring (18.5). Zeller recorded 14 double-doubles in his senior season and reached double figures in scoring on 32 occasions, including topping 20 or more points 11 times. He scored a season-best 31 points on 11-15 shooting (.733) and added 10 rebounds against Appalachian State on Dec. 17 and also put up 30 points, including making 20-23 (.870) free throws, eight rebounds and three blocks versus Maryland on Feb. 29.
As a senior, Zeller became only the third ACC player to win Academic All-America of Year honors (Shane Battier, 2001; Todd Fuller, 1996). He also won the Skip Prosser Award in 2011 and 2012 as the ACC’s top scholar-athlete in men’s basketball and was a four-time Academic All-ACC selection. He finished his career at UNC with averages of 12.8 points on .542 shooting from the field and .777 from the free throw line, 6.7 rebounds and 1.1 blocks in 23.1 minutes per game in 117 games (75 starts) and was a member of the Tarheels’ 2009 National Championship Team.
Azubuike, 28, has career averages of 10.5 points on .459 shooting from the field and .409 shooting from the three-point line, 4.0 rebounds and 1.1 assists in 24.2 minutes per game in 208 games (83 starts).