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Saturday, June 26, 2010

Five Wildcats taken in 1st round of NBA Draft

NEW YORK (AP) John Wall is heading to Washington, and a record number of Kentucky teammates are following him to the NBA.

News photo
Top man: NBA commissioner David Stern poses with Kentucky guard John Wall, the No. 1 overall pick in Thursday's NBA Draft by the Washington Wizards. AP PHOTO

Wall went to the Wizards with the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft on Thursday and four more Wildcats were among the top 30 selections, making them the first school ever to put five players in the first round.

After falling short of the Final Four even with all that talent around him, Wall is ready to help Washington bounce back from a season that was embarrassing on the court and in the locker room.

"I feel like I had pressure since I became No. 1 in high school and was one of the top players," Wall said. "I always got there hungry wanting to fight hard and compete in every game, so when I step on the court I'm going to take on any challenge there."

The SEC player of the year is the first Kentucky player chosen first overall. He goes to a team still reeling from Gilbert Arenas' season-ending suspension for bringing guns into the team locker room.

Wall could replace Arenas as the Wizards' point guard, or perhaps play alongside him in a potential high-scoring backcourt.

He'll try to become the third straight freshman point guard to win Rookie of the Year honors after Chicago's Derrick Rose and Sacramento's Tyreke Evans — who like Wall also played for John Calipari.

The pick came shortly after a person familiar with the deal told The Associated Press that the Chicago Bulls had agreed to trade veteran guard Kirk Hinrich and the 17th pick in the draft, Kevin Seraphin, to the Wizards. Hinrich is a solid veteran defensive guard who could help with Wall's transition to the NBA.

Kentucky landed a second top-five pick when forward DeMarcus Cousins was taken by Sacramento at No. 5, then put two more players in the top 18 when the Houston Rockets chose center Patrick Patterson at No. 14 and Oklahoma City took guard Eric Bledsoe — whose rights were later sent to the Clippers — four spots later.

Center Daniel Orton then went to Orlando with the 29th pick, breaking the previous record of four first-round picks from one school.

The Philadelphia 76ers took national player of the year Evan Turner, a guard from Ohio State, at No. 2.

Derrick Favors became the second freshman taken in the first three picks when the New Jersey Nets chose the Georgia Tech forward.

The Minnesota Timberwolves then grabbed Syracuse forward Wesley Johnson, whom the Nets also had considered.

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