- Associated Press - Thursday, June 23, 2011

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) - Former Duke freshman guard Kyrie Irving was the first player chosen in the NBA draft Thursday night, becoming the third Blue Devil to hear his name called before any other.

When the Cleveland Cavaliers made him the first overall choice he joined Art Heyman, who was taken by the New York Knicks in 1963, and Elton Brand, the top choice of the Chicago Bulls in 1999, as Duke players tabbed No. 1.

This was the fourth time Cleveland had the first pick. In 1971, the Cavaliers selected Austin Carr of Notre Dame No. 1 overall and they followed that in 1986 by taking North Carolina’s Brad Daugherty and in 2003 by taking local high school sensation LeBron James.

“No. 1 picks, they have a lot of expectations on them and I plan on exceeding them,” Irving said. “Being the No. 1 pick is an honor ad I’m really looking forward to getting on the court and showing why I was picked No. 1.”


BACK IN JERSEY: This is the second time the NBA draft was held in New Jersey.

In 1996, just months after hosting the Final Four, the Meadowlands Arena in East Rutherford, was the site of the draft. The Philadelphia 76ers got things started that night be selecting Allen Iverson of Georgetown No. 1.

This year’s draft was held in the Prudential Center and the Cleveland Cavaliers opened it up by selecting another guard, Kyrie Irving of Duke, who went to high school in nearby Elizabeth.

The draft took on an even more local angle with pick No. 22.

Commissioner David Stern walked to the podium and said “with the 22nd pick the Denver Nuggets select Newark’s own Kenneth Faried of Morehead State.”

Sections of the sellout crowd of 8,417 erupted into cheers, none louder than a group of people who used to be very close to Faried. Holding signs that read “Technology High School Teachers (heart) Kenneth Faried,” a group of his former teachers jumped and started snapping pictures.

The all-time leading rebounder in NCAA history, the 6-foot-9 Faried had a big smile on his face during a TV interview when he thanked “everybody for coming out.”


INTERNATIONAL INTRIGUE: Enes Kanter of Turkey, who enrolled at Kentucky but was never eligible to compete in NCAA competition, was the third overall pick by the Utah Jazz.

The 6-foot-11 Kanter was the highest picked international player since Andrea Bargnani of Italy was the overall No. 1 pick by Toronto in 2006.

Bargnani was the second international player taken No. 1, joining Yao Ming of China, who was taken by Houston in 2002.

Last year’s top international pick was Kevin Seraphin of France who was taken with 17th pick by the Chicago Bulls.

Kanter’s selection was greeted enthusiastically by his fellow Turks.

“The Utah Jazz’ selection of Enes Kanter extends the rich bilateral basketball relationship between the United States and Turkey,” Namik Tan, Turkey’s ambassador to the United States said in a statement. “Enes becomes the sixth Turk to currently play in the NBA, joining Hedo Turkoglu, Mehmet Okur, Semih Erden, Omer Asik and Ersan Ilyasova. As a country, Turkey is proud of its basketball roots and its growing ranks in the NBA.”

Kanter is excited about joining Okur on the Jazz.

“First of all he told me about the Utah Jazz and it’s a great city,” Kanter said. “It’s great and he has lots of fun there. And I’m so happy because I have family there. You know, we are both from Turkey and I believe when I go there he will help me a lot.”

Four international players _ ones who did not play at a U.S. college _ were taken in the first seven picks (Kanter, Jonas Valanciunas of Lithuania by Toronto, Jan Vesely of the Czech Republic by Washington, Bismack Biyombo of the Congo by Sacramento). Just two more were taken _ Donatas Motiejunas of Lithuania by Minnesota at No. 20 and Nikola Mirotic of Montenegro by Houston at 23 _ inthe rest of the first round.

The record for international players chosen in the first round is nine in 2003.


THIS CLOSE: Markieff and Marcus Morris have been as close as twin brothers can be. They have never been apart for more than a day or two at a time and the Philadelphia natives had standout careers at Kansas.

They stayed close one more time before separating to play professional basketball when Markieff was chosen with the 13th pick by the Phoenix Suns and Marcus was taken as the next selection by the Houston Rockets.

Marcus, who at 6-foot-8 is one inch shorter and who is younger by 7 minutes, took being second in stride.

“He was born before me so it’s nothing new,” Marcus said, adding “It’s just amazing how things play out. … It just plays out the way we wanted it to.”


DOUBLE DIP: For the fourth time since 2000, one team had two picks in the top 10.

The Cleveland Cavaliers chose Kyrie Irving of Duke with the No. 1 pick and then took Tristan Thompson of Texas with the fourth selection.

In 2000, the Los Angeles Clippers took high schooler Darius Miles third and Missouri guard Keyon Dooling 10th. That same year the Chicago Bulls took forward Marcus Fizer of Iowa State at No. 4 and guard Jamal Crawford of Michigan at No. 8.

In 2009, the Minnesota Timberwolves selected guard Ricky Rubio of Spain with the fifth pick and took guard Jonny Flynn of Syracuse with the next pick. Rubio will begin playing for the Timberwolves this season after playing professionally at home for two seasons.

Rubio’s decision certainly agrees with Arizona forward Derrick Williams, who was the No. 2 overall pick by the Timberwolves, who finished 17-65 last season.

“He makes them a lot better,” Williams said. “Even though he has not played any games over here yet, when you have a pass-first point guard on your team, he wants to make you better. Whenever you have a guy like that, it just brings joy to me. … He really doesn’t care about points and that’s what I like about him. I know we are going to have a big season this year and hopefully win a lot more games than last season.”


O CANADA: When Texas forward Tristan Thompson was chosen fourth by the Cleveland Cavaliers, the NBA was quick to hand out information that he was the first Canadian-born player selected in the draft since 1985, when the Dallas Mavericks chose Bill Wennington of St. John’s at No. 16.

What about Steve Nash?

Well, the two-time NBA MVP with the Phoenix Suns was born in South Africa and moved with his parents to Victoria, British Columbia, when he was 1 1/2 years old. Nash was one of four Canadians to light the torch in the opening ceremony of the Vancouver Olympics in 2010.


KANTER’S FANS: Enes Kanter never played a game for Kentucky having been ruled permanently ineligible by the NCAA for accepting improper benefits from a Turkish club team two years ago.

After being drafted No. 3 overall by the Utah Jazz Kanter had his college fans on his mind, saying he would dedicate this season to them.

“First of all, they support me a lot. They are so special to me. You know they will always be in my heart,” he said of Wildcat fans who he got to know in his one year of school there. “It was so sad and frustrating. I couldn’t play for them and I just _ I still want to like help them because they support me a lot. Just like they made `Free Enes’ T-shirts. They just did everything for me and I want to support them.”


FOOTSTEP FOLLOWERS: When Klay Thompson of Washington State was taken 11th by the Golden State Warriors, it meant at least one son of an NBA player was drafted for the 10th straight year.

Thompson is the son of Mychal Thompson, the overall No. 1 pick in 1978 by the Portland Trail Blazers out of Minnesota.

The father-son streak started in 2002 when Mike Dunleavy of Duke was taken third overall by Golden State.


GOOD POINT: Brandon Knight was the eighth overall pick by the Detroit Pistons and that meant a freshman point guard who played under John Calipari was selected in the top eight for the fourth straight year.

Derrick Rose, the first pick in 2008 by Chicago, and Tyreke Evans, the fourth choice of Sacramento in 2009, both played one season under Calipari at Memphis.

John Wall, the No. 1 overall pick by Washington in 2010, and Knight both played for Calipari at Kentucky.

Knight was asked if he thought he would be drafted higher.

“I did, but the draft is inexact. You can’t think about it,” he said. “From now, it’s just about making people pay that passed up on you. That’s really what it’s about.”

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