Sixers bypass Pierce, take Hughes with 8th pick
Posted: Wednesday June 24, 1998 11:44 PM
PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- The Philadelphia 76ers took Saint Louis freshman Larry Hughes with the eighth pick overall in the NBA Draft, and although coach Larry Brown says he would have been thrilled with any of the consensus top picks, he says Hughes is the perfect player for his team.
"Larry Hughes was a kid we couldn't afford to pass up," Brown said moments after selecting Hughes over the highly regarded Paul Pierce of Kansas, who ended up going to the Boston Celtics with the 10th pick.
"I think he has the biggest upside in the draft," Brown said of Hughes, a 6-5 guard who was Conference USA's freshman of the year with a 20.9 points per game average. "He's 19 years old and for his size handles the ball as well as any guard in the draft. He's mature beyond his years. If he stayed in school, he's the No. 1 pick in the draft in 2-3 years."
"This is a very fortunate day for us," Brown said.
The feeling was mutual.
"This is the best situation for me both with the players and the coach," Hughes said over a conference call hookup from the draft site in Vancouver.
"I was hoping I'd get to the Sixers with the eighth pick. I'm looking forward to working with Allen Iverson. I want to meet him, talk to him and find out what he's like," he said. "I don't think he's crazy. He's his own person. That's how I am a little bit."
Brown said he was sold on Hughes, whose biggest liability was his poor 41.5 percent shooting, weeks ago. But having missed Hughes initial workout two weeks ago, it wasn't until Saturday night that Brown got to meet him.
Hughes made a special unannounced second visit to Philadelphia just to have dinner with Brown and discuss prospects of coming to Philadelphia.
The Sixers then made it official, with the man who figures to share the backcourt with Hughes, Iverson, informing the fans inside the CoreStates Center of their choice.
"I think it's a good pick," said Iverson, who said he still wants to remain the point guard, letting Hughes play off the ball. "We brought a guy in who wants to play here."
"From what I've seen he has a whole lot of talent. Hopefully, he'll learn how I like to play and I'll learn how he likes to play. I'll share with him the experiences I've had when I came into the league," Iverson said.
"I thought Pierce would've gone earlier. I didn't know he'd be around. But I wanted to play with Larry."
According to Brown, pairing Hughes and Iverson should give Philadelphia a quality backcourt. "Before we were putting people in position because of their size," said Brown, referring to the Iverson-Jerry Stackhouse tandem, which never clicked. "This is a more comfortable fit for us."
Hughes was expected to arrive in Philadelphia for a 1 p.m. news conference Thursday.
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