Friday, June 26, 2009

Seven ACC players drafted in first round

It was a friendly debate for Duke and North Carolina fans of late: Who would be chosen first during Thursday night’s NBA draft – The Forearm or The Nose?

In the end (or near the beginning, actually), it was Duke wing Gerald Henderson — whose flagrant forearm bloodied Tar Heel forward Tyler Hansbrough nose back in March, 2007, adding to the Tobacco Road rivalry lore — who became the first player taken. He was selected 12th overall by the Charlotte Bobcats.

Hansbrough, who graduated in May, was then taken 13th, by the Indiana Pacers.

Both were in the so-called ‘Green Room’ at Madison Square Garden in New York, sitting with friends and family (and in Hansbough’s case, UNC coach Roy Williams) as they waited to hear their names called.

Asked how much more he can improve in the NBA, Henderson told ESPN: “I don’t know right now. I hope I can take this game as far as I can. I’m going to work really hard at it, and we’ll see."

Asked by ESPN what kind of player the Pacers were getting, Hansbrough said: "A hard worker that knows how to win."

Wake Forest forward James Johnson was the next ACC player to go, 16th to the Chicago Bulls.

Then North Carolina’s Ty Lawson — last year’s ACC Player of the Year — was chosen 18th overall by the Minnesota Timberwolves. He was the third point guard drafted by the Wolves on Thursday night, joining international player Ricky Rubio and Syracuse’ Jonny Flynn, who were chosen No. 6 and No. 7, respectively. Lawson was later traded to the Denver Nuggets.

Wake Forest point guard Jeff Teague then went 19th to the Atlanta Hawks, marking the first time the Demon Deacons have ever had two players chosen in the first round.

UNC shooting guard Wayne Ellington was chosen 28th by Minnesota, followed by Florida State point guard Toney Douglas, who was drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers then traded to the New York Knicks.

In the second round, swingman Danny Green became the fourth Tar Heel taken when he was drafted 46th overall, by the Cleveland Cavaliers. Miami point guard Jack McClinton (51st overall, by San Antonio) was also chosen in the second round.

-- Robbi Pickeral