Friday, June 27, 2003

Hornets take XU's West with 18th pick

Forward is guaranteed three-year, $3.1M deal

By Dustin Dow
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Hornets fan cheer at the Arena in New Orleans as assistant general manager Allan Bristow (on screen) announces the team's pick of David West.
(AP photo)
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NEW YORK, N.Y. - David West remained patient Thursday night, as NBA Commissioner David Stern announced the 13 lottery picks and four more before he walked to the podium at The Theater at Madison Square Garden to disclose the New Orleans Hornets' choice.

In that moment, West's professional future took shape as the Hornets selected him with the 18th pick, guaranteeing West a three-year contract worth $3.1 million.

"I knew I was going there," said West from his parents' home in Garner, N.C. "After Boston and Phoenix passed on me (at No. 16 and 17), I knew New Orleans would take me. They said they liked me if I was still available. I wasn't stressed. I was just watching it and having a good time with my family."

Former Ohio University and Withrow star Brandon Hunter had to wait a bit longer than West, but his name was finally called three picks before the end of the draft. Boston selected the 6-foot-7 forward, who was watching from home in Cincinnati, at No. 58 in the second round.

"We knew he'd go somewhere in the second round," said Hunter's agent, Doug Newstadt. "In the second round, it's a crapshoot. But he's happy."

David West
For West, just knowing that he will be a member of the Hornets ends months of speculation.

"I was sweating it," said West's agent, Jeff Austin of Octagon. "Because I didn't think he would go before 18. But I told him I thought it was a very strong possibility that he could go to New Orleans."

West will play power forward for New Orleans, which starts Jamal Mashburn and P.J. Brown at forward, with George Lynch coming off the bench in the rotation.

Hornets coach Tim Floyd, left, and Bob Bass, vice president of basketball operations, talk about West.
(AP photo)
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The Hornets also have a new coach in Tim Floyd, the former Bulls coach who resigned in 2001 after a dismal three-year stint which produced just 49 wins. Floyd was hired after the Hornets fired Paul Silas following a 47-35 playoff season.

"To go to a winning team that was in the playoffs and compete at the top level, that's nice," West said.

West's selection put an end to draft-night rumors that he would go to Cleveland, which had begun discussions in an attempt to trade up to the 23rd spot occupied by Portland in order to draft West. That would have made West an afterthought to fans in Cleveland, who are celebrating the Cavaliers' selection of LeBron James at No. 1.

"It wasn't hyped up for me," West said, "because I knew I wasn't going top 10 unless someone was crazy."

West will be in New Orleans today for a press conference and to meet with the Hornets' coaching staff.

The Hornets selected a high school player, James Lang, from Central Park Christian School in Birmingham, Ala., with the 48th overall pick in the second round. Lang is a 6-10, 305-pound center who averaged 21 points and 14 rebounds during his senior year.

West is the ninth Xavier player to join the NBA since 1993, and the first since James Posey was drafted 18th by Denver in 1999.

Other players of interest:

• UK's Keith Bogans was selected with the 14th pick in the second round - 43rd overall - by Milwaukee. His rights were later traded to Orlando for cash.

• Former UC player Donald Little was not selected.

Little, 25, was sentenced Tuesday in Hamilton County Common Pleas Court to spend 30 days in jail on a charge of aggravated assault.

Hamilton County Common Pleas Court Judge Thomas Crush initially imposed a sentence beginning today, but when Little's attorney, Theodore Froncek, argued Wednesday that imposing the sentence immediately could harm Little's chance at a basketball career, Crush agreed to postpone the sentence. Little will begin serving the jail term Sept. 2, Crush said.

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