Colangelo begins reign with Raptors by selecting Italian Bargnani
New York, NY (Sports Network) – Bryan Colangelo’s first major personnel
decision as president and general manager of Toronto had an international
feel, as the Raptors selected Italian superstar Andrea Bargnani with the first
selection in the 2006 NBA Draft.
Bargnani showed off an NBA-caliber offensive skill set while playing for
Benetton Treviso in Italy last season. Scouts have raved about the 6-foot-11,
240-pound forward’s quick release and deft touch from the perimeter.
The selection of Bargnani adds a proven shooter to the equation, though like
many European stars, scouts are adamant that the forward must spend
significant time in the weight room to improve his inside game.
While a project, Bargnani caught Colangelo’s eye minutes after the general
manager learned he had the task of selecting a prime prospect with the top
pick in the draft.
He indicated his desire to pick the Italian superstar after naming Maurizio
Gherardini vice president and assistant general manager last week. Gherardini
was the general manager of Benetton Treviso, the champions of the Lega A
Colangelo was hired by the Raptors in late February to build a playoff-caliber
club centered around an athletic frontline of Chris Bosh and Charlie
Portland reportedly continued its active draft night once the Bulls went on
the clock with the second selection. Chicago selected Texas forward LaMarcus
Aldridge with the intention of moving him to the Trail Blazers for the rights
to LSU forward Tyrus Thomas, who was selected fourth, forward Viktor Khryapa
and future considerations.
Thomas and Aldridge met when Texas faced LSU in the Atlanta regional final
last season. The athletic Thomas got the better of Aldridge, scoring 21 points
and grabbing 13 rebounds in the Tigers’ 70-60 victory to advance to the Final
Questions arose about Aldridge’s physical nature during the Elite Eight
contest, as the forward contributed only four points on 2-of-14 shooting and
was pushed around by LSU’s bulky big man Glen Davis.
Aldridge, however, was the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year in 2005-06 and
averaged 15 points and 9.2 rebounds for the Longhorns.
Thomas’ stock rose during the NCAA Tournament where he showed off an enormous
vertical jump and ability to attack the rim. He won the Atlanta Region MVP
after combining to score 30 points in victories against Duke and Texas. Thomas
averaged 12.3 points and 9.2 rebounds per contest for the Final Four
Charlotte selected pure scorer Adam Morrison with the third pick in the draft.
The Gonzaga product was last seen on a basketball court in tears during the
waning seconds of the club’s stunning loss to UCLA in the Sweet 16. Morrison’s
trophy case is full of collegiate accolades as the forward was named the
Chevrolet Player of the Year as selected by CBS Sports, a John R. Wooden Award
Top Five honoree, a James Naismith Player of the Year finalist, the co-
recipient of the Oscar Robertson Trophy presented by the United States
Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) and the co-recipient of the National
Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) Player of the Year in 2006.
Atlanta had planned on drafting Duke forward Shelden Williams for weeks, and
the Hawks followed through by selecting the shot-blocking frontline player
with the draft’s fifth selection. Williams had a distinguished four-year ride
at Duke, becoming just the third player in NCAA history to record 1,500
points, 1,000 rebounds, 350 blocks and 150 steals. He also repeated as the
NABC National Defensive Player of the Year as a senior with the Blue Devils.
Washington’s Brandon Roy was taken by the Minnesota Timberwolves with the
sixth pick in the draft. Roy grabbed headlines and accolades in his senior
campaign, being selected as a 2006 first team Associated Press All-American,
2006 Pac-10 Player of the Year, and a 2006 Wooden Award Finalist.
The Celtics then followed by selecting Villanova’s Randy Foye. The guard was
drafted for Portland as part of a trade reported earlier Wednesday. The Trail
Blazers also received forward Raef LaFrentz and guard Dan Dickau in exchange
for point guard Sebastian Telfair and forward Theo Ratliff.
However, Foye will need to change hats again, as the dynamic scorer is
reportedly heading to Minnesota in exchange for the rights to Roy.
Foye was named the 2006 Big East Player of the Year and has the ability to
attack the basket and finish around contact.
Houston selected Connecticut swingman Rudy Gay with the eighth pick and will
reportedly ship him to Memphis for forward Shane Battier. Gay was drafted as a
player with tremendous upside and a significant personality risk. The UConn
forward averaged 15.2 points and 6.4 rebounds for the Huskies last season, but
at times looked lackadaisical on the defensive end.
Golden State selected Bradley seven-footer Patrick O’Bryant with the ninth
pick, adding a frontline presence on the defensive end. O’Bryant, like Thomas,
showed promise during the NCAA Tournament, leading the surprising Braves into
the Sweet 16.
Seattle rounded out the top 10 by selecting Saer Sene from Belgium. Sene,
widely considered to be a project despite his size, played for Verviers-
Pepinster last season.