- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Chris Singleton’s first defensive assignment was against his younger brother, Rashod.

“He was always taller, so he always won,” said Rashod.

Now 15, Rashod Singleton has the same goal as his big brother, to someday play in the NBA. For now, he’s feeling a little family pride.

“I have a brother in the NBA,” Rashod said. “I have something to brag about.”

Chris Singleton may have been a bit surprised when he fell to No. 18 on draft night last week, when the Washington Wizards selected the Florida State forward with their second pick of the first round, but he believes he landed with the right team.

“It’s good to be here. I finally made it,” Singleton said. “Going in, there was a lot of hype [about me] in the draft. I was just lucky to fall to a good organization. To the teams that missed out on me, I’m going to use it as a building opportunity. I’m going to show the world what I’m capable of doing.”

Singleton’s mom, Stephanie Langston Singleton, said her son being drafted was a dream come true.

“He was always talented, and he’s always been hard on himself, but we had a feeling he would make it,” Langston Singleton said. “I’m happy he has a job.”

Singleton’s job, as he describes it, will be to bring a defensive presence to the Wizards.

“We have a lot of offensive firepower, but I think the one thing we’re missing is that defensive mindset,” he said. “I’m going to bring that right off the bat. My offense is going to develop, and we’re going to roll from there.”

Singleton and the team’s other two draft picks, Jan Vesely and Shelvin Mack, were brought on board to fill holes in the lineup, and general Ernie Grunfeld believes the team did that successfully on draft night.

“Our plan was to get more athletic, to get tougher, to get better as a defensive team,” Grunfeld said. “We think Chris Singleton and Shelvin Mack both have very good futures ahead of them.

“They fill the roles and the needs that we were looking for. They are both three-year [college] players, they have played on the big stages, they’re both very good defensive players and they’re willing to do whatever it takes for the team to win.”

Mack comes to the Wizards with a little familiarity with two of his future teammates; he and John Wall have been training together for the past couple of years, and he and Trevor Booker played together with USA Basketball.

“I know I’m not going to be starting; John Wall is the starting point guard, but I will try to make him better every day in practice,” Mack said. “I know I can bring some toughness to the team. I’m going to enjoy the challenge of being in the NBA.”

In addition to the on-court skill sets that Mack, Singleton and Vesely bring to the Wizards, coach Flip Saunders also likes his new players’ intangible attributes.

“They are not only very competitive but also very team-oriented players,” Saunders said. “Both have a very high basketball IQ, which is very important in the system we want to play. To be strong as a team, you have to have a melting pot. We’ve put together a team where each player has his own strength. …

“We’re looking for people that have character. There are a lot of teams that have talent to win games, but you have to have character to win championships.”

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