He said he is elated that the man writing his checks knows the meaning of Hoya Saxa: “That’s a positive to my side. That’s a win-win situation.”
Bennett had also been under consideration by the Wizards, but the Cavaliers made the surprising choice after being linked with either Len or Kentucky center Nerlens Noel. The 7-foot-1 Len was unable to workout for teams as he recovers from a stress fracture in his left ankle that will keep him confined to a walking boot for the next three weeks. Noel won’t be available until at least December as he recovers from a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee.
So Cleveland, once again eschewing conventional wisdom, elected to go with a player recovering from a torn rotator cuff in his left arm. Bennett is the highest drafted player from Canada, beating out his new teammate Tristan Thompson, who previously held the title after the Cavaliers surprisingly chose him fourth in 2011.
“I’m just as surprised as everybody else. I didn’t really have any idea who’s going number one or number two. I heard everything was up for grabs,” Bennett said. “It’s just like a long-time dream that I had since I first started playing basketball, six, seven years ago. It’s just crazy.”
Oladipo, a native of Upper Marlboro, entered his junior season at Indiana projected to go late in the first round, but made an incredible rise that rivals his 42-inch vertical leap.
He also grew emotional as he described how he was able to turn a pastime that his family considered “a hobby” into a career that will earn him millions of dollars.
“I don’t even know if my family still knows what’s going on,” Oladipo said with a laugh. “I know they’re happy. I know they’re happy for me. This is probably a surreal feeling for them, too, to see the youngest, the baby boy, grow up to be the gentleman that I am today.”
Cody Zeller went fourth to the Charlotte Bobcats before Len became Maryland’s highest draft pick since Steve Francis went second overall in 1999. “Two years ago, I had no idea I was going to be here at this point,” Len said. “But I work hard. I’m really excited to go to Phoenix. It’s a great city, great team.”
Wizards note: In the second round, the Wizards shipped picks Nos. 38 (Nate Wolters of South Dakota State) and 54 (Arsalan Kazemi of Oregon) to the Philadelphia 76ers for Glen Rice Jr., the 35th pick and the son of the three-time all-star sharpshooter. Rice, an athletic 6-6 swingman, played last season in the Development League after getting dismissed from Georgia Tech in March 2012 after a string of off-the-court incidents.