2001 NBA Draft
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Fountain of youth

Wizards set tone by taking prep star Brown No. 1

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Posted: Wednesday June 27, 2001 7:52 PM
Updated: Thursday July 05, 2001 1:25 PM
  Kwame Brown Kwame Brown made NBA history with his selection No. 1 overall by the Wizards. Al Bello/Allsport

NEW YORK (Ticker) -- One year ago, high school stars Tyson Chandler and Eddy Curry were considered the best NBA draft prospects. On Wednesday, the Chicago Bulls got them both -- at the expense of Elton Brand.

In the youngest -- and perhaps tallest -- draft in history, the Bulls traded Brand for Chandler and selected Curry, both of whom went in the top four picks.

"Overall, I'm pumped," Bulls general manager Jerry Krause said. "Yeah, I'm really pumped because I haven't felt this good about a draft in a long time."

Before the Bulls began rebuilding -- again -- the Washington Wizards made history by making Georgia high school star Kwame Brown the top overall pick.

The draft featured 20 underclassmen, breaking last year's mark by one. Four of those youngsters came straight out of high school, with all going in the first eight picks.

"That's amazing. I would never believe it," said Curry, an Illinois native who stayed in his backyard. "This is a great high school class, with three going in the top four."

 
2001 NBA DRAFT
     
Kwame Brown, Tyson Chandler and Pau Gasol were Wednesday's top three picks. 
Analysis and Stories 
CNNSI.com's Burns: First Round
CNNSI.com's Loughery: Trademarks
Kwame the kid lands in D.C.
Bulls acquire Chandler, take Curry
Haywood dons the cap -- twice
Griz have high hopes for Gusol
Celtics land juco star Brown
2001 NBA Draft-Day Trades  
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Notebook: Who's on first?
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Diaries: Battier | Chandler
Chat Reel: CNNSI.com's Burns
Wizards have choice of youngsters 
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Kwame Brown is eager to work with Michael Jordan in some capacity. Start

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In addition, four foreigners were selected in the first round, equaling the number of seniors taken. And just to spice things up, there were nine trades, one more than last year.

Just 19 years old, the 6-foot-11, 240-pound Brown could find himself going from dominating high school games in Brunswick, Georgia to receiving on-court instruction from Michael Jordan, the team president who is considering a comeback.

"I would love to see him come back," Brown said. "I would be like a sponge soaking in as much as I can."

"This kid is going to fit the bill for us,'" Jordan said in a television interview. "We feel he can handle it. I think Kwame is going to be fine."

The earliest a high school player previously had been selected was third, where the Los Angeles Clippers tabbed Darius Miles last year. The youthful Clippers topped themselves this year, grabbing the 7-foot-1 Chandler with the second pick.

Then the fun started.

Chandler, a native of Los Angeles, was dealt with forward Brian Skinner to the Bulls for Brand, who may be the best player in the NBA yet to make an All-Star team.

Brand was the top overall pick of Chicago in 1999 and went on to share Rookie of the Year honors. Despite seeing a steady stream of double-teams, Brand has averaged 20 points and 10 rebounds per game in his first two seasons.

The Clippers, who were the most improved team in the NBA last season, now have forwards Brand and Lamar Odom, the best young tandem in the league.

'"It's kind of difficult, but I'm going somewhere where they have confidence in me and I've already spoke to coach [Alvin] Gentry and he says I'll get a lot of touches," Brand said. "I'm excited about the young talent they have and the potential there."

After the Atlanta Hawks made 7-foot Spanish forward Pau Gasol the earliest selected international player with the third pick -- and the fulcrum of another huge trade -- the Bulls went for Curry, a 6-11, 285-pound behemoth from Illinois' Thornwood High.

"It's a good trade," Curry said. "I was looking forward to playing with Elton Brand, but we have two useful players. We're going to be a tough team, we still have some veterans."

Just as Krause built a dynasty by pairing Jordan with Scottie Pippen, he hopes the duo of Chandler and Curry will do the same as they grow together with the Bulls.

"We got two young kids that are building blocks, seven foot tall, athletic building blocks," said Krause, who also expressed concern that his 15-67 team could be even worse next season.

"They are a great organization," Chandler said. "They're trying to turn it around. Me and Eddie are going to help do that. It's a great situation with two high school players. We can grow and learn from each other."

Between the giant teenagers was Gasol, who turns 21 next week. He was traded to the Grizzlies -- who may be moving to Memphis -- with forward Lorenzen Wright and guard Brevin Knight for forward Shareef Abdur-Rahim, who also may be the best player yet to make an All-Star team.

"I feel very, very excited," said Gasol, who has been likened to Toni Kukoc. "It was fantastic. The first time I have been in this state. I can't ask for any more."

The Hawks also received the 27th pick from the Grizzlies, tabbed Iowa State point guard Jamaal Tinsley and dealt his rights to the Indiana Pacers for a future first-round pick.

The Grizzlies weren't done reshaping their team, either. After the draft, they dealt guards Mike Bibby and Brent Price to the Sacramento Kings for guards Jason Williams and Nick Anderson.

After the Golden State Warriors selected Michigan State shooting guard Jason Richardson with the fifth pick, the Grizzlies tabbed Duke forward Shane Battier, making him the first senior taken.

"I'm so thrilled to be playing for the Grizzlies," said the 6-8 Battier, who led Duke to the national title. "I was really impressed with my interview with them. [Owner] Michael Heisley, he's an intelligent man."

Picking seventh, the New Jersey Nets selected Seton Hall forward Eddie Griffin, which got the trade winds gusting again. They sent Griffin to the Houston Rockets for Arizona forward Richard Jefferson (No. 13), Stanford center Jason Collins (No. 18) and Pepperdine guard Brandon Armstrong (No. 23) -- underclassmen all.

"I was surprised because I was looking forward to going and playing for the Nets, but now I'm in a better situation," Griffin said. '"ouston is on the verge of being a great team. I'm in a better situation."

The fourth high school player selected was De Sagana Diop of Oak Hill Academy in Virginia, who went eighth to Cleveland. A native of Senegal, Diop was the biggest player in the draft at 7-foot-1, 315 pounds.

"I feel good for playing basketball just four years," Diop said. "They came to watch me work out and they said they needed a center. That's good for me."

After the Detroit Pistons chose NC-Charlotte freshman forward Rodney White ninth, the Boston Celtics had the next two picks and went with small forwards Joe Johnson of Arkansas and Kedrick Brown of Okaloosa-Walton Community College in Florida.

In another nod to youth, Brown became the first junior college player taken in the opening round.

The Celtics also chose North Carolina guard Joe Forte at No. 21.

The Seattle SuperSonics also went international, using the 12th pick on Yugoslavian forward Vladimir Radmanovic. The Rockets ended the lottery portion and began taking players for the Nets with Jefferson.

Six teams had multiple first-round picks. In addition to the Grizzlies, Celtics and Rockets, the Warriors also chose Notre Dame forward Troy Murphy with the 14th pick; the Orlando Magic tabbed DePaul center Steven Hunter at No. 15 and SMU guard Jeryl Sasser at No. 22; and the Cavaliers also selected North Carolina center Brendan Haywood at No. 20.

The Cavs traded Haywood to the Magic for veteran center Michael Doleac.

In other deals, the Hawks sent second-round pick Terence Morris to the Rockets for a future first-round pick; the Magic dealt second-rounder Omar Cook to Denver for a future first-round pick; and the Sonics sent second-round pick Bobby Simmons to the Wizards for the rights to Predrag Drobjnak, a 1997 second-round selection.

The first 23 players chosen stood at least 6-foot-4. Although there are no comparative statistics, Ryan Blake of NBA Scouting said it was safe to say this was the tallest draft in league annals.

Other foreigners taken included 6-foot Spanish guard Raul Lopez, who went 24th to the Utah Jazz, and French guard Tony Parker, who went 28th to the San Antonio Spurs.

The only college seniors selected were Battier, Haywood, Sasser and Tinsley.

 
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