Unable to make a trade for an established point guard, the Washington Bullets took yet another major gamble and selected 5-foot-3 Tyrone Bogues of Wake Forest with their first-round pick in yesterday's NBA draft.

"A warm feeling just rushed across my heart," said Bogues, who went to Dunbar High School in Baltimore and was the 12th selection overall. "My family can just drive 25 or 30 minutes to see me play. I'm very happy and honored.

"I know people are saying, 'Well, how can a guy this size be playing effectively at this level?' I know players think that, too. But once the game gets going, they have a different opinion of me. Maybe this does make a statement. Maybe now people will ask 'What can this kid do?' and size won't be such a big factor."

Bogues, who played for current Maryland Coach Bob Wade at Dunbar, was the all-time Atlantic Coast Conference leader in assists and steals and made all-conference first team last season after averaging 14.8 points, 9.5 assists and 3.8 rebounds per game. Just as important to the Bullets were his all-star effort at the Aloha Classic in April, his performances in several other postseason tournaments and, more recently, his play as a U.S. Basketball League pro -- all that against his obvious shortcoming as the smallest man in the NBA next season, by several inches.

"We saw him against every good guard that was in the draft and he dominated everyone he played against," said Bullets General Manager Bob Ferry. "He'll have problems, but we think he'll create more."

"Not many offenses can rely on posting up a point guard for 25 percent of the game, and that's the maximum you can post anyone up," added Coach Kevin Loughery. "There has to be a risk, but he can run the fast break better than anyone in the draft and we want to up-tempo the game. He can move the ball anywhere on the court and he's a leader, which is a plus for us."

Bogues is the third Wake Forest player in the last seven years chosen by Washington in the opening round of the draft, joining Frank Johnson (1981) and Kenny Green (1985). The recurrent uncertainty about Johnson's status led the club to opt for Bogues.

"Right now we're pretty bare back there," said Ferry. "With Frank's injuries {his left foot fractured four times in the last three years}, we weren't too comfortable, and this guy has tremendous ability."

In selecting Bogues, Washington passed over taller players including 6-9 Dallas Comegys of De Paul, 6-10 Joe Wolf of North Carolina and 7-foot Christian Welp of Washington. According to Loughery, those men might have helped address the Bullets' rebounding deficiencies, but their contribution wouldn't have been as significant as the one Bogues is expected to make.

"We thought about other guys but we asked ourselves would that rebounder beat out anyone already starting on our team," said Loughery. "We didn't think so. Bogues has the ability to start for our team . . . I'm not sure that he wasn't the best point guard available in the draft -- he was definitely the best player available when we picked."

As excited as they seemed about Bogues' pending arrival, Ferry and Loughery professed regret about the inability to complete a draft day trade like the deals that brought Moses Malone and Terry Catledge last June and Cliff Robinson and Gus Williams in previous seasons.

This year, the Bullets apparently just missed out on making an even bigger splash when a proposed deal with the Denver Nuggets fell through. According to sources, Washington was prepared to send shooting guard Jeff Malone and forward Jay Vincent to Denver in exchange for point guard Lafayette Lever and forward Danny Schayes. (There were rumors later that Denver wanted Bogues in the trade.)

"You never know that you have a deal until a deal is made," Nuggets President Vince Boryla said from the team's draft headquarters in Denver. "We were one tick away from something big breaking. It didn't break; that's the way it goes."

The teams were still talking yesterday morning. But another snag came up early in the first round when the Indiana Pacers, picking 11th, took UCLA forward/guard Reggie Miller. According to sources, the Bullets were planning on taking Miller to replace Malone in their back court.

Ferry would not confirm that the Bullets were talking to Denver, but he did say that the Los Angeles Clippers' selection of former Georgetown star Reggie Williams with the No. 4 choice had ramifications all the way down to Washington's pick.

"I think we'll be doing things all summer," Ferry said in reference to trades. "This isn't the end. We've got some exciting possiblities."

Right now most of the excitement revolves around Bogues and a potential on-court pairing with backup center Manute Bol, at 7-6 the NBA's tallest player.

"We're gonna send him to the Naval Academy because they've had great success at growing people," Ferry joked about Bogues, making reference to David Robinson, who grew six inches during his four years in Annapolis and went on to become the first selection today, by the San Antonio Spurs.

But Bogues doesn't feel that's necessary. He's made do nicely with the body he's been given, and he said there is no reason to think that can't continue in the NBA.

"There are always critics but when I'm out there I go out and give 110 percent and hope things work out for me," he said. "When I'm out there I don't even think about it; on the court I'm just another player, I don't even look at size."

"This team has three of the finest offensive rebounders in the game and good penetration by the guard will open up those possiblities," said Ferry. "He's the most unique playmaker we've ever seen . . . he's got a great ability to make everyone around him better."

That didn't stop the Bullets from selecting another point guard, 6-3 Duane Washington from Middle Tennessee State, with the first of their two second-round choices. Washington, the 37th pick overall, averaged 10 points and 10 assists.

Their second pick in the round was used to take forward Derrick Dowell, a 6-6 three-year starter for Southern California who averaged 20.9 points and 8.8 rebounds.