Brad Davis, who seemed resigned last week to returning to Maryland for his senior season, was a surprise first-round choice by the Los Angeles Lakers yesterday in the NBA draft.

"I told him that he shouldn't turn pro unless he got at least a three-year, $100,000-a-year contract" said Maryland coach Lefty Driesell, "so he must have got a good deal and I'm glad for him.

"Sure I'm sorry to see him leave, but he can be replaced. We can move Jo Jo Hunter, who's going to be a pro someday too, to point guard. We'll still be an exceptional team."

Davis, whose negotiations with the Lakers are being handled by his brother Mickey, a former NBA player, started for three years at Maryland. As early as his freshman year, Celtic general manager Red Auerbach was raving about his ball-handing skills.

Those same skills also impressed the Lakers, who passed up a chance at grabbing Michigan All-America Rickey Green by taking Davis.

"We went into the draft looking for a ball-handling, playmaking guard," said Lader coach Jerry West, "and that's what Brad Davis is. We think he fits our requirements exactly.

"He is quick, exciting andwe feel he is ready for the NBA right now. And he's been well coached. That's to his advantage, too."

Steve Sheppard, Maryland's captain last year, was picked in the second round by Chicago. North Carolina State's Kenny Carr was the Lakers' initial first-round choice and the sixth player chosen in the draft.

"Carr could very well be the best forward in the draft this year," said West of the 6-foot-8 235-pound former De Matha product. "He fits our forward need - a scorer who also can rebound. He does both very well."

In all, six ACC players were drafted in the first round.

Meanwhile, Maryland also lost out in the race for Wes Mathews, a standout guard from Bridgeport, Conn. Mathews signed a letter of intent to Wisconsin yesterday. Mathews and Albert King, the Brooklyn, N.Y., flash who signed with Maryland Thursday are close friends. It had been reported that Mathews was considering following King to Maryland.