Washington Bullet General Manager Bob Ferry and Coach Gene Shue said they have made a commitment to produce a running, fast-breaking team next season.
Their first pick in yesterday's National Basketball Association draft is a player they think will help make that possible. He is 6-1 guard Wes Matthews of Wisconsin.
The Bullets needed a guard, they needed quickness and they needed an explosive-type player to give them a transfusion of excitement.
They got all they wanted in Matthews a crowd-pleasing, multitalented player who, Shue said, "you just love to see with the ball."
Matthews, an eligible undergraduate, was the 14th player selected in the first round, with a pick the Bullets acquired from Houston as compensation for the Rockets' signing of free agent Tom Henderson last season.
Ironically, the Bullets' own first-round pick, the 13th pick overall, went to Detroit as compensation for the Bullets' signing of Kevin Porter, the man Matthews likely must compete with for a starting job next season.
The Bullets' next pick was in the second round, the 35th choice overall, but before they took Hampton Institute's Ricky Mahorn with it, they pulled off a surprising deal with Golden State, acquiring 6-10 Jeff Ruland for "future considerations."
The Warriors had four of the first 25 picks and they used that 25th pick, the second selection in the second round, to tab Ruland, another eligible undergraduate from Iona.
Ruland is a big, strong player who will be tried at both center and forward.
Ferry said future considerations were still being worked out and he wouldn't say if they involved players, draft choices or cash. "We just aren't sure exactly what it will involve yet," he said.
Two local players were picked in the first round. Hawkeye Whitney from North Carolina State and DeMatha High School went to Kansas City as the 16th selection overall and Georgetown's John Duren went to Utah as the 19th player picked.
Craig Shelton of Georgetown was selected by Atlanta early in the second round.
The first three selections in the draft went as expected as Golden State, with a pick it acquired Monday from Boston, made Purdue's Joe Barry Carroll the No. 1 choice.
Utah then took Darrell Griffith of Louisville and Boston took Kevin McHale of Minnesota.
Then the finagling started. Chicago, picking fourth, took Kevin Ransey of Ohio State and, six picks later, Portland took Ronnie Lester of Iowa. The Bulls then traded Ramsey and future considerations to the Trail Blazers for Lester.
Lester was the top-rated guard in the draft, but because of a knee injury, many teams were skeptical about him. The Bulls decided to take a chance and go after him if they would get something else as insurance.
Portland wanted Ransey all along, but the Trail Blazers knew he wouldn't still be available when they picked 10th. But because of his knee there was a good chance Lester would still be there.
Chicago's gamble worked and the deal was made.
There were no real surprises in the first round, except for the Bullets taking Matthews, as Denver, picking fifth, took James Ray of Jacksonville; New Jersey, picking sixth and seventh, tabbed Mike O'Koren of North Carolina and Mike Gminski of Duke; Philadelphia took Andrew Toney of Southwest Louisiana; San Diego took Michael Brooks of La Salle, and Dallas took Kiki Vandeweghe of UCLA.
Matthews is the player the Bullets wanted going into the draft. They conducted a three-day rookie tryout camp last week and Matthews had them drooling.
"He is one of the quickest players Gene and I have ever seen," said Ferry. "He's a good shooter and a penetrator. He has a chance at greatness."
"He really stuck out," added Shue. "We all had the same reaction to him. He's a Nate Archibald, Norm Nixon type. He can just run by people. He's also a great jumper."
Added Ferry: "He's a runner. I don't think he knows how to walk. Every time he moves, it's like an explosion. He's that quick. We wanted someone who was exciting and who could turn our people on and we got him."
Matthews averaged 19.6 points a game and shot 51 percent from the field last season and was the nation's sixth-leading free-throw shooter (88 percent).
The 21-year-old Matthews had several runins with Coach Bill Cofield at Wisconsin and he has the reputation of occasionally being hard to handle.
"His dream has always been to play the game like the pros do and not have to concern himself with anything but playing basketball," Cofield said. One thing extremely important to Wesley is playing the pro game and getting the pro money and I think he realizes he must conform to what they want him to do. Wesley is intelligent enough to make the kind of adjustment." w
Ferry said he checked into the reports about Matthews, including talking to his high school coach, and he said he doesn't foresee any problems.
The outgoing Matthews said he was excited to be a Washington Bullet.
"I'm not thinking about being a starter or any of that," he said. "I'm just going to go in there and do the best I can. I like to run and I feel I can play either guard position.
"Coach Shue told me their offense is going to be a wide-open, running one with a lot of movement and that's what I like."
The Bullets lost guard Jim Cleamons to Dallas in the expansion draft and Larry Wright is a free agent, so it was vital that they obtain another guard.
The drafting of Matthews makes Wright expendable. It is very unlikely the Bullets would keep three small guards.
Ferry said Wright has not been offered a new contract by the Bullets, but said it is possible he would be offered one. Wright might sign with the Warriors with Ruland serving as compensation.
Ruland, who averaged 20.8 points a game and was a 64 personal career shooter at Iona, signed with an agent during the season. That is against NCAA rules and apparently contributed to his leaving school early.
The 240-pound Ruland, who is from Farmington, N.Y., said he was surprised to be picked by the Warriors in the second round and equally surprised to end up in Washington.
"I just thought I was going to go a little earlier than I did," he said. "Everything worked out fine, though. I'm close to home and I like the personnel in Washington.
Ferry said the deal for Ruland was made five minutes before it was announced.
"He's a big, tough guy who played very well against every good player he's played against," Ferry said of Ruland.
Mahorn is a three-time Little all-America who at 6-11, 243, was fifth in Division II in scoring last year, averaging 27.6 points a game, and first in rebounding with a 15.8 average. He also shot 57 percent from the field.
Ferry said he is one of the best shooters he's seen for a player his size.
"He can flat out shoot the ball," Ferry said. "He's going to be our little project, and with the sheer talent he has we couldn't pass him up." CAPTION: Picture 1, Bob Ferry, general manager of the Bullets, and Coach Gene Shue ponder choices during NBA draft. By Margaret Thomas -- The Washington Post; Picture 2, Wes Matthews Wisconsin, 6-1 Matthews in a quick, ball-handling guard Coach Gene Shue says has a good pull-up jump shot from 16-18 feet. He is in the Tiny Archibald-Norm Nixon-Maurice Cheeks mold, but is a better leaper and better defensive player. He is an explosive player who can play the razzle-dazzle game.He had 13 assists in one game this season and holds the Wisconsin single season assist record with 118. He has an 18.1 career scoring average.; Picture, 3 jeff Ruland Iona, 6-10 Ruland is a good shooter and a stronger rebounder who seems to play best against good competition. He left school after his junior year. In college he was virtually unstoppable inside and also had a good outside jump shot. He is a 6-4 percent career field goal shooter who led Iona to its best record ever (29-5). He was one of only six players in the nation to average more than 20 points, 10 rebounds and shoot better than 50 percent. He can play center or forward.; Picture 4, Ricky Mahorn Hampton, 6-11 Mahorn is a raw talent the Bullets hope they can mold into a competent player. An excellent outside shooter, he averaged 27.6 points a game and led the nation's Division II rebounders with 15.8 a game. He didn't start playing basketball until his senior year in high school. He was a reserve his freshman year at Hampton. In his first start as a sophomore, he scored 37 points and grabbed 27 rebounds.; Chart 1, Bullet Picks; Chart 2, First Round