With most of the NBA world focused on Kentucky center Nerlens Noel, Bennett was taken by the struggling Cavs’ organization in hopes he can do what a young budding star out of St. Vincent-St. Mary High School did for Cleveland when he was selected No. 1 overall back in 2003. That star was LeBron James who helped develop Cleveland into a playoff contender before leaving for Miami.
Anthony Bennett became the fourth straight freshman taken with the first pick. He was the Mountain West Conference freshman of the year, a finalist for the Naismsith Award, and starred for Canada’s junior national team. In one season with the Rebels, the 6-foot-8, 240-pound Bennett averaged 16 points and 8 rebounds per game while playing much of the season out of position at center.
Noel actually fell out of the top five and ended up being selected until the sixth overall pick of New Orleans Pelicans, the organization then quickly traded the 6-11 center to the Philadelphia 76ers for Jrue Holiday and the 42nd pick in this year’s draft. Noel was the favorite to go No. 1 even though he suffered a season-ending knee injury in late February.
Orlando passed on big men opting for Indiana guard Victor Oladipo with the second pick and Washington stayed local taking Georgetown’s Otto Porter Jr. at No. 3. Oladipo’s teammate at Indiana, Cody Zeller, was taken fourth by Charlotte and Alex Len, a 7-1 center from Maryland, rounded out the top five picks.
Kansas guard Ben McLemore, who was also considered a possible top three pick, went to Sacramento with the seventh pick. McLemore is a tremendous athlete who should become a rising star in the league.
The Michigan backcourt tandem of Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. went in the first round with Burke, the Naismith Player of the Year, going to Minnesota at No. 9 and Hardaway to New York at No. 24.
One of the more interesting picks was that of Portland at No. 10. The Trail Blazers took C.J. McCollum, the first player to ever be drafted out of Lehigh University. McCollum was one of two players – Bucknell’s Mike Muscala the other – drafted out of the Patriot League.