- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 28, 2001

It was Kwame Brown and it wasn't even close.
Last night the Washington Wizards made NBA history when they selected the 6-foot-10, 243-pound high school senior marking the first time a prep player has been the top pick.
According to president of basketball operations Michael Jordan, the Wizards who had said they were open to trading the top pick simply weren't enticed to move the 19-year-old.
"We went through the day thinking, barring that we get a Tracy McGrady or Grant Hill, I was going to take this kid," Jordan said. "No one was talking in those terms. We feel his potential is unbelievable."
The Wizards were approached late in the day by the Chicago Bulls, who wanted to work out a package for Brown that included Elton Brand who later was traded later in the day to the Los Angeles Clippers for the draft rights to the No. 2 pick, high schooler Tyson Chandler. However, the Wizards were not interested.
In Brown, an athletic player who has been compared favorably to Minnesota's Kevin Garnett, the Wizards feel they have a building block for the future. In a year when the first two picks were from the high school ranks, Brown, who can play either small or power forward, was seen as the top player.
"I don't doubt that for one minute," Jordan said.
As a senior at Glynn Academy, Brown was named the High School Player of the Year in Georgia. He was also named to the USA Today All-USA First team as well as being named a Parade All American, among other distinctions. Brown, who orally committed to Florida last December but opted to enter the draft right before the deadline for registering, averaged 20.1 points, 13.3 rebounds, 5.8 blocked shots, 3.0 assists and 2.0 steals.
According to the NBA's collective bargaining agreement, the Wizards will be able to sign Brown to a three-year deal worth approximately $12 million. The team can extend the deal for a fourth year and match any offer in the fifth.
The well-spoken Brown is also supremely confident in his abilities. He does not appear intimidated by the fact that he was chosen at the top of the draft. In fact, when the Wizards called him in for a second workout Monday the day when they decided they favored him over Chandler Brown sounded almost insulted.
"When they asked me to come back a second time, I was a little angry," Brown said. "I knew within myself that I was probably the most skilled player in the draft, and I knew how I had played.
"So I got angry at first but I went back there relaxed, not feeling like this was going to make or break me. So I went in thinking that I was going to have fun and that I was going to play basketball. Once I took off that added pressure, I was able to just flow. Basketball is basketball."
The Wizards won just 19 games last year and, as coach Doug Collins conceded last night, they "have a lot of holes to fill." However, Collins said the team will not rush Brown too quickly, and Jordan talked at length about putting a support group behind Brown to ensure his success as the team heads toward recovery.
"We don't expect him to come in here and be a big cog right away, but we expect him in two to three years down the road to be a much superior player than where he is right now," Collins said "But even where he is now, we feel like he's a guy that we're going to be able to put on the floor and he's going to play."
Jordan added that building the support group around Brown is crucial.
"He's going to have to have teammates who support this kid," Jordan said. "It's going to be very important that he has the right leadership away from the game of basketball. This is something that we have taken into consideration to try to protect and make sure this kid has a chance to be nurtured, not just as a basketball player but as a person."
There will still be big-time pressure on Brown, even if the expectations are low for the team. This could all change if Jordan does indeed come back to play and deflect from Brown some of the attention that goes with being the top pick in the draft.
Brown could be forced to play big minutes at the power forward position, where free agent forward Christian Laettner started at the end of the season.
Third-year guard Richard Hamilton was the No. 7 pick in the 1999 draft, coming out following his junior season at Connecticut. Yesterday Hamilton conceded that making the transition to the pros might be difficult, but he pointed out that each case has to be looked at on a case-by-case basis.
"It's going to be a big-time adjustment for him because he's young," Hamilton said. "Now all of a sudden you're a rich man; you're a millionaire. And now he's going against the best competition in the world. With me going to college, I got a chance to really grow. I think I wasn't ready when I was coming out of high school, but there are different situations. Some guys are more mature than other guys coming out. But 6-11, 250 speaks for itself."

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