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Joe Goes West as Warriors
Make Smith No. 1 Pick

By David Nakamura
Washington Post Staff Writer
June 29, 1995

TORONTO, JUNE 28 -- Joe Smith's basketball journey that brought him north from Norfolk to the University of Maryland will now send him west across the country to Oakland, as the Golden State Warriors made Smith the No. 1 selection in tonight's NBA draft.

NBA Commissioner David Stern made the announcement at appoximately 7:35 p.m. before a live television audience in the United States and Canada, which will have two new teams in the NBA next season. Dressed in a sharp brown suit, sans tie, Smith hugged his mother, Letha, and other relatives, slapped a Warriors baseball hat on his head, crossed a well-lit stage in front of 21,268 at SkyDome and shook hands with Stern.

Then he allowed a broad smile.

"I'm a bit choked up right now," said Smith, who joined Magic Johnson (Los Angeles 1979) and Chris Webber (Orlando 1993) as the only sophomores to be picked first in the draft. "It's a great accomplishment."

Three other sophomore sensations followed Smith. The Los Angeles Clippers caused a mild surprise among the crowd when they selected Alabama foward Antonio McDyess with the second pick over North Carolina swingman Jerry Stackhouse, who had made it clear in the preceding weeks that he wanted to play for Philadelphia. Later, the Clippers surprised the crowd again, trading point guard Randy Woods and the rights to McDyess to Denver for forward Rodney Rodgers and the rights to Oregon State guard Brent Barry, who was the No. 15 pick by the Nuggets.

Stackhouse got his wish when the 76ers took him third, and his college teammate, center Rasheed Wallace, then went to the Washington Bullets at No. 4.

In the second round, the Bullets took Texas shooting guard Terrence Rencher with pick No. 32. However Washington immediately traded his rights and guard Rex Chapman to Miami for the rights to guard Jeff Webster, a 1994 draft choice of the Heat and center Ed Stokes, a 1993 second round pick by Miami.

High school superstar Kevin Garnett, a 6-foot-10, 218-pound stringbean center out of Farragut Academy in Chicago, went at No. 5 to the Minnesota Timberwolves. He is the fourth player hoping to make the transition to the NBA directly from high school, following Moses Malone in 1974, and Darryl Dawkins and Bill Willoughby in 1975.

"A lot of people don't know it, but you have to be a gladiator to play {high school ball} in Chicago," said Garnett, playing down his inexperience. "It's like a mini-NBA, and I have the scars to prove it."

Stackhouse, who grew up in North Carolina, was not shy when asked if he was happy the Clippers passed on him.

"Oh yeah!" Stackhouse said. "I'm excited and happy to be close to my family." Of 76ers Coach John Lucas, Stackhouse said: "He wants a winning attitude, and I'm bringing a winning attitude to that team."

Wallace said he thinks he'll start off playing power forward with the Bullets until he gains more weight on his 6-10 1/2, 233-pound body and can play center.

McDyess -- whose stock skyrocketed after a good performance in the NCAA tournament, including 39 points and 19 rebounds in one game -- said he was happy to be traded from Los Angeles to Denver. "It is a better program and situation for myself. I will be able to learn a lot from {Nuggets center} Dikembe Mutombo," he said.

After the top five, Oklahoma State's 7-foot, 292-pound center Bryant Reeves became the first college player drafted by a Canadian team -- and the first four-year collegian selected -- as the Vancouver Grizzlies took him sixth. The Toronto Raptors then took 5-10 Arizona guard Damon Stoudamire -- the Pac-10 conference's co-player of the year -- who will learn under Raptors General Manager Isiah Thomas, one of the best point guards in the NBA during his 13-year playing career in Detroit.

"In the first year, we might take some lumps," Stoudamire said. "But we're going to be a winner."

The Portland Trail Blazers -- who had acquired the No. 8 pick from Detroit in exchange for three lower picks and who tried to make a deal with Washington in order to get Garnett -- took Michigan State guard Shawn Respert. The Trail Blazers later traded the rights to Respert to the Milwaukee Bucks for the rights to Gary Trent, a forward from the University of Ohio who was taken at No. 11, and one of the Bucks' two first-round picks in 1996.

UCLA hero Ed O'Bannon went ninth to the New Jersey Nets, and Texas Christian power forward Kurt Thomas, who led the country in scoring and rebounding last year, went 10th to Miami.

The University of Virginia had two players picked. Guard Cory Alexander was chosen by the San Antonio Spurs last in the first round and forward Junior Burrough was selected by the Boston Celtics in the second round. Wake Forest guard Randolph Childress went to the Pistons and swingman Lawrence Moten was another choice of Vancouver.

Early entry candidates have topped the draft the past three years, with Purdue's Glenn Robinson going to Milwaukee last season, Michigan's Webber going to Orlando in 1993, and Louisiana State's Shaquille O'Neal going to Orlando in 1992.

The Warriors need an inside force to compensate for the loss of Webber early last season. Golden State traded Webber, who feuded with former coach Don Nelson, to the Bullets last season. Now the Warriors, with new general manager Dave Twardzik and new coach Rick Adleman, start anew with a player they don't think will have a personality conflict with the organization.

In a post-draft news conference, Smith, 19, spoke with Twardzik and Adleman via a desktop computer video system. Twardzik told Smith he should report to Oakland on Thursday.

"Is it still raining?" Smith quipped, remembering his pre-draft visit.

"No, the sun came out today," Twardzik said, perhaps figuratively.

"That was the longest four-and-a-half minutes of my life," Smith said of his wait to hear his name tonight. "I was very nervous right there. My palms started sweating."

Smith -- who already has an agreement to endorse Nike sportswear and was wearing a gold Nike lapel pin -- has a passing familiarity with the Warriors' home court because he played at the Oakland Alameda County-Coliseum Arena when the Terrapins faced the Connecticut Huskies in the round of 16 of the NCAA tournament in March. He's hoping for better results than he got that night, when the Terrapins lost.

He'll join a team that has Tim Hardaway at point guard, Latrell Sprewell at shooting guard and Chris Mullin at small forward.

"That'll be a good situation for Joe," Maryland Coach Gary Williams said. "It'll take some of the scoring pressure off him. What he can give them is rebounding and defense.

"It's kind of amazing," Williams said, growing reflective, "to think Joe came to Maryland two years ago without much publicity and now he's the No. 1 pick in the draft."

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© 1995 The Washington Post Company