NEW YORK, JUNE 22 -- The last time Olden Polynice was in the middle of a mob scene like this was back in 1984 when he led his Virginia team to the Final Four as a freshman.
The smile that brightened his face today in Madison Square Garden's Felt Forum told exactly what was on his mind.
The Chicago Bulls drafted Polynice, a 6-11 center/forward, with the eighth pick in the first round, and that made him happy. The Bulls then traded him to Seattle for Scottie Pippen, and that made Polynice even happier because it meant he would be united with a mentor from his Virginia days, Tom Newell, now one of Coach Bernie Bickerstaff's assistants at Seattle.
"I'm in shape, I'm happy and I'm ready to go to work," Polynice said, minutes after being selected by the Bulls. When a reporter informed Polynice he was about to be traded to Seattle for Pippen (in a prearranged agreement to ensure each team the player it wanted), Polynice nearly screamed: "Oh, man, is that really true?"
Resplendent in a gray Italian-cut suit with red tie and pocket silk, he was effervescent today. Being drafted marked the beginning of his return, after various charges and countercharges (including shoplifting) eventually forced him out of Virginia just before his senior year was to begin.
"This is incredible for me," said Polynice, who grew up a few miles from the Garden. "I'm even more excited to be with Seattle. I credit Tom Newell with about 70 percent of my improvement from freshman year to junior year.
"I owe a lot to Tommy. Anybody who helped me and does something like Tom did for me deserves a lot in return. I'll do everything I can to pay him back and to help Seattle."
Once again, players produced by Washington-area neighborhoods or colleges were prominent among the NBA draftees. Besides Navy's David Robinson (Osbourn Park High) and Reggie Williams (Baltimore Dunbar, Georgetown) and Polynice (Virginia), several other local products were given the opportunity today to try to make the grade in big league professional basketball.
Virginia forward Andrew Kennedy was selected in the second round, the 43rd pick overall, by the Philadelphia 76ers. He averaged 16.5 points a game and 7.5 rebounds last season. He was on the all-ACC second team and all-ACC tournament team last season, his second as a Cavalier as a junior college transfer.
Duke's Tommy Amaker was selected in the third round, the 55th pick overall, by Seattle. Amaker, out of Fairfax's W.T. Woodson High, averaged 12.3 points last season and set the all-time assist record (708) for the Blue Devils.
Virginia's Tom Sheehey, a 6-7, 227-pound forward, was selected in the fourth round by the Boston Celtics. North Carolina State forward Bennie Bolton, who attended DeMatha in Hyattsville, was selected in the fourth round by the Golden State Warriors.
American University guard Frank Ross, eighth in the nation in scoring last season at 25 points a game, was selected in the fifth round by the Philadelphia 76ers. In the sixth round, Denver took New Mexico's Kelvin Scarborough, a 6-1 guard who played high school basketball at Eastern in the District.