Thursday , Jun , 29 , 2006 C.Y. Ellis

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.

“We felt Andrea Bargnani was really the best pick for the future of this
organization going forward,” said Colangelo. “It’s not about today, it’s about
today and tomorrow and we think Andrea is a player that’s not only going to
help us in the short run, but we think is going to grow into a terrific star
in this league.”

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
playoffs.

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
Villanueva.

Portland 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 and a future second round draft pick 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
Four.

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
representative.

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 and the co-recipient of the National
Association of Basketball Coaches Player of the Year in 2006.

“Looking at the team, (scoring) is what we desperately needed. We needed
scoring especially in the fourth quarter. I think (Adam) Morrison can provide
that for us,” Bobcats part-owner Michael Jordan said.

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.

“We feel Shelden is a guy that will help us in many areas,” said Hawks
executive vice president and general manager Billy Knight. “He has established
himself in the college ranks, and he’ll be able to contribute to our team
right away. We like his strength, power and maturity level.”

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 earlier Wednesday. The Trail Blazers
also received forward Raef LaFrentz, guard Dan Dickau and cash
considerations in exchange for point guard Sebastian Telfair, forward
Theo Ratliff and a 2008 second-round draft choice.

However, Foye will need to change hats again, as the dynamic scorer is
heading to Minnesota along with cash considerations 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.

“Foye is a very talented young man, a player we were targeting in his draft,”
said Timberwolves vice president of basketball operations Kevin McHale. “He is
a mature player who can play both guard positions, and is a tough defender.
Randy has a proven track record of stepping up in big games.”

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 as a project despite his size, played for Verviers-
Pepinster last season.

Orlando selected Duke sharpshooter J.J. Redick with the 11th pick in the
draft. Redick is known for his long-distance expertise and ability to run off
screens. The 2006 John Wooden Award winner as the nation’s best player, Redick
is the ACC’s all-time leading scorer, while ranking 16th in NCAA history with
2,769 points. He also finished his college career with the most three-point
baskets in NCAA history with 457.

The wave of Connecticut players continued with Hilton Armstrong, who was
selected by New Orleans/Oklahoma City with the 12th pick in the draft.
Armstrong blossomed during his senior season in Storrs, winning the Big East’s
Defensive Player of the Year Award.

UConn point guard Marcus Williams fell into New Jersey’s lap with the 22nd
selection, as the southpaw was the last player left in the Green Room.
Questions about Williams’ character arose after he was suspended for the first
semester last season for his role in stealing laptops.

College teammate Josh Boone capped the run of Huskies when he was picked up
by the Nets with the 23rd pick. The four UConn players selected in the first
round tied the record for a college program, joining North Carolina in 2005
and Duke in 1999.

The Sixers and Bulls worked out a deal with the 13th and 16th picks in the
first round. Philadelphia drafted Swiss star Thabo Sefolosha with the 13th
pick and shipped him to Chicago for the rights to the 16th pick — Memphis
swingman Rodney Carney — along with a 2007 second-round draft choice and cash
considerations.

Utah used the 14th selection on Arkansas swingman Ronnie Brewer, who is
extremely versatile and isn’t afraid of attacking frontline players in the
lane. Brewer’s jump shot isn’t a thing of beauty, however, as the Arkansas
product has a slow release from an injury he suffered at a young age.

New Orleans/Oklahoma City added another frontline presence with its second
pick of the first round, selecting North Carolina State forward Cedric
Simmons, who has more upside offensively than Armstrong but needs to improve
his toughness on the defensive end.

Indiana didn’t pass up on the athleticism of Memphis forward Shawne Williams,
making him a Pacer with the draft’s 17th selection. Williams was named
Conference USA’s Freshman of the Year last season, while ranking third on the
club in scoring with 13.2 points per game.

Washington looked overseas with the 18th pick, drafting forward Oleksiy
Pecherov from Ukraine. Sacramento followed by selecting Rutgers guard Quincy
Douby with the 19th pick, adding a streaky shooter to a backcourt that
includes perennial All-Star Mike Bibby.

New York, coming off a disastrous 23-59 season that included a roster full of
bloated payrolls and ended with the firing of head coach Larry Brown, drafted
forward Renaldo Balkman from South Carolina with the 20th pick. Balkman is a
high energy player who gives his all on both ends of the floor, but is limited
on the offensive end and needs to improve his shot.

Phoenix selected Kentucky guard Rajon Rondo with the 21st pick, but then
shipped the guard, forward Brian Grant and cash considerations to Boston for a
future first-round draft pick.

Memphis selected guard Kyle Lowry with the 24th pick in the first round. The
diminutive Villanova product with a stocky build is an excellent scorer and
does not shy away from contact in the lane. Lowry’s selection marked the first
time a pair of Villanova guards were picked in the first round since 1957.

A pair of Michigan State Spartans were taken in the final few picks of the
first round, as guard Shannon Brown was picked by Cleveland with the 25th
selection and backcourt mate Maurice Ager was taken by the Dallas Mavericks
with the 28th pick.

The Los Angeles Lakers added a Californian to its squad, selecting UCLA point
guard Jordan Farmar with the 26th pick. Farmar’s steady demeanor and
exceptional ball skills, along with a constantly improving jumper, helped UCLA
reach the national championship game last season.

Phoenix chose Spain’s Sergio Rodriguez with the 27th pick in the draft then
shipped him to the active Portland Trail Blazers for cash considerations.

The Knicks used their second selection of the first round on Temple guard
Mardy Collins, who is a proven scorer and a lockdown defender. Collins
finished his career fourth on the all-time school scoring list and was named
All-American Honorable Mention as a senior last season.

Fittingly, the draft’s most active team capped the first round with the
selection of English forward Joel Freeland. The Trail Blazers selected the big
man with the 30th pick because of his mid-range game and his rebounding
ability.