Players rise and fall in '05 NBA Draft
NEW YORK, June 28 -- Two years ago, as a high school senior, Charlie Villanueva, stepped on the floor at a gym in Chicago before a large contingent of NBA scouts. Villanueva was an early entrant into the 2003 Draft, and was following a pre-Draft workout conducted by fellow prep star and future Minnesota first round pick Ndudi Ebi.
As Villanueva took the floor and began his shooting drills, the gym quickly emptied of scouts. It was a disappointing blow to the 6-11 McDonald's All-American, whom NBA teams wanted to see attend college rather than head to their league.
Villanueva heeded the advice, spending the next two years at UConn and competing under the tutelage of head coach Jim Calhoun.
That move paid off Tuesday night as the Queens native went seventh overall in the NBA Draft to the Toronto Raptors. Though Villanueva clearly moved himself into the first round in this year's Draft with his performance as a Husky sophomore, nobody thought a stat line of 13.6 points per game would be enough to put him in the Lottery.
"I had faith in myself -- I believed," Villanueva said. "That's always been my slogan. It's been a long ride for me but I worked hard and it definitely paid off."
Two picks later, the Golden State Warriors shocked draftniks again by selecting Ike Diogu. The Arizona State junior was not even among the 16 invitees in the Draft's green room. Many thought of him as a mid-to late- first rounder because at 6-8, he may be too small to play power forward in the NBA.
The Warriors thought otherwise, and Diogu, who was measured at the Chicago Pre-Draft Camp as having a 7-3 1/2 oversized wingspan, just may help prove them right.
It seemed as if every pick beginning with the Knicks' No. 8 selection prompted chants from the Madison Square Garden crowd of "Gerald Green, Gerald Green." The fans' call for the selection of the 6-8 high school swingman wouldn't be answered until ten picks later, when the Boston Celtics tabbed Green at 18th overall.
"I don't know why I fell," said Green, who some predicted would land as high as the third overall pick. "I have no clue but things happen for a reason. I'm going to turn a negative into a positive and go to Boston and play as hard as I can."
Green never worked out for the Celtics and said it was a bit of a surprise when he heard his named called by that organization. In Boston, the 19-year-old joins a promising young core than includes 2003-04 rookies Tony Allen, Al Jefferson, Delonte West and second-year men Kendrick Perkins and Marcus Banks. Team president Danny Ainge has now drafted three players out of high school in his brief tenure with the team that began May 9, 2003.
"I'm very familiar with them," Green said. "Kendrick Perkins is (also) from Texas, Tony Allen went to Oklahoma State (where Green originally committed to attend college). I'm glad they gave me an opportunity. If I have to, I'll die for them. I'm going to leave my heart out on the court."
The last man to leave the green room was Syracuse senior forward Hakim Warrick, chosen one pick later at No. 19. Warrick was projected in the top-10 in many mock drafts.
"Long wait," Warrick said. "Longest two or three hours of my life. I'm just very fortunate it's over."
Questions about whether or not the Philadelphia native is a "tweener" at the NBA level -- meaning to skinny for the power forward position, not perimeter-oriented enough for the 3 spot -- plagued him during the entire workout process, but strong showings in those auditions were believed to have moved him into the Lottery.
"I kind of had a feeling this was going to happen," Warrick said. "I planned at first to watch with my family back home but I got invited here because I guess they thought I was going to go a little higher and so did we."
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