Magic night for Howard
New York, NY (Sports Network) – High school phenom Dwight Howard was
selected by the Orlando Magic with the top overall pick in the 2004 NBA
Howard becomes the third high school player taken No. 1, joining Kwame Brown
(Washington, 2001) and LeBron James (Cleveland, 2003).
Howard was voted Naismith Prep Player of the Year in 2004 and was also a
McDonald’s All-American during his senior year at Southwest Atlanta Christian
Academy, when he averaged 25.0 points and 18.0 rebounds per game.
The 6-11, 240-pound forward was the co-MVP of “Big Time” when his Atlanta
Celtics captured the tournament title.
“I think I’m ready. It’s going to be a learning experience,” said Howard when
asked about facing NBA competition. “I haven’t played against this level of
talent before. I feel that after playing a couple games, I’ll get used to the
hits. I’ll be okay. I think by playing with the best, that’ll elevate my game
to another level.”
The expansion Charlotte Bobcats, who moved up two spots in the draft via a
trade with the Los Angeles Clippers, took University of Connecticut center
Emeka Okafor with the second pick.
The All-America center led the Huskies to the 2004 national championship and
skipped his senior campaign for NBA stardom. He joins a Magic squad that
finished 21-61 last season.
Okafor, who battled back spasms throughout UConn’s postseason run, was the
Big East Player of the Year this past season and was a finalist for the Wooden
and Naismith Awards as national player of the year.
The 6-foot-10 star was UConn’s second-leading scorer, averaging 17.6 points
per game, and led the Huskies with an average of 11.5 rebounds per outing. He
finished his career with a dominating 24-point, 15-rebound performance in an
82-73 victory over Georgia Tech in the national championship game.
Okafor is one of just four players in UConn history with 1,000 points and
1,000 rebounds, and also finished his collegiate career with a school-record
441 blocked shots.
Chicago held the third selection and chose Connecticut point guard Ben Gordon.
Gordon declared for the draft following his junior season with the Huskies.
His 1,795 points at UConn ranks him sixth in school history.
Gordon was named to the All-Big East First Team following the 2003-04 campaign
as well as the Final Four All-Tournament team.
The Los Angeles Clippers received the fourth and 33rd picks in the draft
courtesy of the trade with Charlotte and used the No. 4 selection to take
another high school star, point guard Shaun Livingston.
Livingston had little trouble dominating at every phase of his high school
career with Peoria Central. He shot 52.4 percent from the floor during his
four years and posted a career-best 18 points-per-game average as a senior,
while also pulling down 6.2 rebounds and handing out 5.7 assists per outing.
Wisconsin point guard Devin Harris was chosen fifth by the Washington Wizards
and then traded to Dallas as part of a huge deal. In addition to Harris, the
Mavericks acquired swingman Jerry Stackhouse and forward Christian Laettner in
exchange for forward Antawn Jamison and cash.
Harris led the Badgers to a school-record 25 wins in 2003-04, earning himself
Big Ten Player of the Year honors. He was runner-up for the Bob Cousy
Collegiate Point Guard of the Year Award and was a unanimous All-Big Ten First
Team selection after averaging a career-best 19.5 points per game.
The Atlanta Hawks picked Stanford swingman Josh Childress with the sixth
selection. Childress was a First Team All-American and All-Pac 10 selection in
2003. He was also the Pac-10’s Player of the Year and the conference
tournament’s MVP as a junior. During the 2003-04 campaign, Childress averaged
15.7 points and 7.5 boards per contest.
Duke forward Luol Deng was taken seventh by Phoenix. However, the Suns traded
Deng’s rights to Chicago for the rights to the 31st pick (Jackson Vroman) and
a future first-round selection.
Deng spent just one season with the Blue Devils and was the second-leading
scorer during the regular season with a 15.1 points-per-game average. He
also contributed 6.9 rebounds per outing and was the 10th freshman in ACC
history to pace league rookies in scoring, rebounding and field goal
The Toronto Raptors chose BYU center Rafael Araujo at No. 8. Araujo became one
of the top big men in the Mountain West Conference after just two seasons with
the Cougars. He earned Co-Player of the Year honors following a 2003-04
campaign in which he averaged 18.4 points and 10.1 rebounds per contest.
Arizona guard Andre Iguodala was picked ninth by the Philadelphia 76ers.
Iguodala posted a school record three triple-doubles this past season as a
sophomore and became the only player in program history to lead the team in
rebounds (253), assists (147) and steals (48) in the same season. He averaged
12.9 points, 8.4 boards and 4.9 assists per game last season.
The Cleveland Cavaliers completed the top-10, as they chose Oregon forward
Luke Jackson. Jackson finished as the Pac-10’s only player in the top 10 in
scoring, rebounding and assists. He received All-Pac-10 honors during his
senior, junior and sophomore campaigns and led Oregon in scoring last year
with a 21.2 points-per-game average.
In another draft day trade of note, the Nuggets sent Saint Joseph’s guard and
Naismith College Player of the Year Jameer Nelson, the 20th overall pick, to
Orlando in exchange for a future first-round choice.