Canadian Anthony Bennett of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas was taken with the number one pick of the 2013 NBA Draft by the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday.
Bennett, a versatile 6-foot-8 forward who averaged 16.1 points and 8.1 rebounds as a freshman last season, joins a Cavs team that was 24-58 record last season in the National Basketball Association.
The powerfully-built Bennett was considered one of the best rounded prospects from this year's draft class, equally adept at scoring from down low as he was shooting from the outside.
Cleveland tapped Bennett over touted centres including Nerlens Noel of Kentucky and Ukrainian Alex Len of Maryland despite the forward having had shoulder surgery that kept him from working out for the NBA teams.
The Orlando Magic followed by selecting Indiana guard Victor Oladipo with the second overall pick while the Washington Wizards claimed forward Otto Porter, who played for nearby Georgetown University, third overall.
The Detroit Pistons selected 6'8" shooting guard Kentavious Caldwel-Pope, from Georgia, with the 8th pick. He is this year's SEC Player of the Year.
TREY BURKE, HARDAWAY, JR.:
Trey Burke had seen his stock rise, fall, and rise again in the days and final hours before the NBA draft.
They weren’t drastic changes — just about every network and analyst pegged Michigan’s point guard as a bona fide first-round selection.
Burke said earlier in the week he anticipated the uncertainty, yet the moments before the draft had to have been agonizing.
Finally, on Thursday at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., Burke got some clarity on his future.
The Minnesota Timberwolves selected the 5-foot-11 Columbus native at No. 9 in the first round of the NBA draft. The New York Knicks selected Tim Hardaway, Jr., a guard and Burke’s college teammate, at No. 24.
Still, before the first round of the draft ended, the Timberwolves traded Burke to Utah as part of a three-player trade.
Burke and teammate Tim Hardaway, Jr., declared for the NBA draft after Michigan lost to Louisville in the national title game in April in Atlanta. Burke, 20, opted to leave Ann Arbor despite having two years of eligibility left; in 39 games as a sophomore, Burke averaged 18.6 points and 6.7 assists.
Burke was named the Associated Press College Player of the Year, Naismith College Player of the Year and Sports Illustrated Player of the Year in men’s basketball, and won the John Wooden Award as the top college men’s basketball player of the year and the Oscar Robertson Trophy as the U.S. Basketball Writers Association’s top college player of the year.
Ohio State star Deshaun Thomas is joining the San Antonio Spurs.
The Spurs selected the 6-foot-7 junior forward with the 58th overall pick Thursday night in the NBA draft.
Thomas averaged a Big Ten-high 19.8 points as a junior and finished his career ninth on the Buckeyes' all-time scoring list with 1,630 points.
"My three years at Ohio State have been the best years of my life,” Thomas said in a release upon turning pro in April. “I have grown tremendously as an individual and as a basketball player. I intend to return to finish my degree, but I believe that now is the best opportunity to pursue my dream and begin my career as a professional basketball player."
MORE ON BENNETT:
Canadian Anthony Bennett, a power forward who played one year at University of Nevada, Las Vegas, leaped over a pair of touted centers to emerge as number one pick by the Cleveland Cavaliers at Thursday's NBA Draft.
While many draft analysts predicted Nerlens Noel of Kentucky or Ukrainian Alex Len of Maryland would go No. 1, the versatile, 6-foot-8 (2.03 m) Bennett was the surprise top choice of a Cavs team that finished last season with a 24-58 record.
“I'm just as surprised as everybody else,” Bennett, who averaged 16.1 points and 8.1 rebounds as a freshman at Las Vegas last season, told reporters at Barclays Center, home of the Brooklyn Nets.
“I heard everything was up for grabs. But I'm just real happy, glad that I have this opportunity, and I just got to thank God for everything.”
Injuries to Noel (knee) and Len (foot) may have cooled the Cavs to those young big men, but Toronto native Bennett himself required shoulder surgery at the end of his college season and that did not deter the Cavaliers.
“It's just crazy. Made history,” said an excited Bennett. “It's just like a long-time dream that I had since I first started playing basketball.
“It's just crazy.”
Bennett may be a touch smaller than classic the NBA power forward size, but he is strong, has a wide wingspan and good finishing moves around the rim, along with an accurate jumper that allows him to work from the outside as well.
“I can contribute at the four, at the three,” said the 20-year-old. “There's things I still need to work on, but I feel like I'm a great team mate, unselfish. I think I can fit in right away.”
Bennett said he had no clue he was going number one overall.
“When they said my name, that's when I knew,” he said. “I had no idea before.”
Bennett will be joining compatriot Tristan Thompson on the Cavs, who took the Canadian forward with the fourth overall pick in the 2011 draft. Thompson averaged 11.7 points and 9.4 rebounds a game last season for Cleveland.
“He's just a great guy,’ said Bennett. “He seems real cool. Both from the same area. I'm going to be seeing him a lot.”
Bennett was the first UNLV player to be voted Mountain West Freshman of the Year in 13 seasons and earned first-team All-Mountain West honors after leading the Rebels in scoring, rebounding and three-point percentage.
The Canadian scored in double figures in his first 17 games as a collegian, racking up 12 double-doubles, and scored 20 or more points 13 times.
Bennett's coach, Dave Rice, gave a sterling recommendation of his young forward before the draft.
“There's not much that he can't do on a court,” said Rice.
“He can score from the perimeter. He can score in the post. He's a fabulous rebounder. The only thing that he lacked coming in was just experience.”
Bennett predicted Canadians could go back-to-back atop the NBA Draft with Andrew Wiggins looming as a dominant player at Kansas.
“Next year with Wiggins, hopefully he does well at Kansas,” said Bennett. “I'm rooting for him. I'm pretty sure he'll get that No. 1 spot.”