Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
NBA Draft: Bennett Goes No. 1, Canadians Could Go Back-to-Back With Wiggins
NEW YORK — Anthony Bennett went No. 1 and Canada could go back-to-back.
Bennett, the 6-foot-7 UNLV forward, was the surprise No. 1 pick of the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Draft Thursday at Barclays Center.
The Cavs bypassed Kentucky center Nerlens Noel, who was ultimately chosen at No. 6 by the New Orleans Pelicans and then dealt to the Philadelphia 76ers.
Bennett told SNY.tv a month ago that he was shooting to be the No. 1 overall pick, and now it’s happened.
“I’m just as surprised as everybody else,” said Bennett, a native of Brampton, Ontario who became the first UNLV player taken No. 1 overall since Larry Johnson in 1991. “I didn’t really have any idea who’s going No. 1 or who was going No. 2. I heard everything was up for grabs. But I’m just real happy, glad that I have this opportunity.”
With Andrew Wiggins of Kansas projected as the No. 1 pick next year, Canada could go back-to-back in 2013 and 2014. Wiggins is the presumed No. 1 pick in what will be a loaded 2014 Draft.
“Next year with [Wiggins], hopefully he does well at Kansas,” Bennett said. “I’m rooting for him. I’m pretty sure he’ll get that No. 1 spot.”
Kelly Olynyk, another Canadian out of Gonzaga, was chosen at No. 13 by the Dallas Mavericks and then dealt to the Boston Celtics, according to Adrian Wojnarowksi of Yahoo! Sports.
This marks the first time two Canadian-born players have been picked in the lottery.
Two years ago, the Cavs made Tristan Thompson the highest Canadian pick when he was chosen at No. 4. Now they are teammates.
“He seems real cool,” Bennett said. “Both from the same area. I’m going to be seeing him a lot, basically.”
Bennett has been sidelined the past six weeks with a torn rotator cuff in his left shoulder, and can’t participate in basketball activities until August.
After Bennett, Victor Oladipo of Indiana went No. 2 to the Orlando Magic; Otto Porter Jr. of Georgetown was selected No. 3 by the Washington Wizards; Cody Zeller of Indiana went No. 4 to the Charlotte Bobcats; and Len was chosen No. 5 by the Phoenix Suns.
Noel went at No. 6 to the New Orleans Pelicans, and was dealt along with a 2014 first-round pick to the Sixers for point guard Jrue Holiday and tonight’s 42nd pick.
Bennett is repped by Mike George, the former CIA Bounce AAU coach who became an agent and landed Bennett as his first client.
A year from now, he could be repping Wiggins as well.
Kansas coach Bill Self was in the Green Room with Ben McLemore — who went No. 7 to the Sacramento Kings — and said he expects Wiggins to be a perennial NBA All-Star.
“I would be disappointed if by the time he’s 24, 25 years old that he doesn’t have a chance to be a perennial All-Star,” Self told SNY.tv.
“I think it’ll happen for him. I think it’ll happen fast. He’s gotta get stronger, he’s gotta tighten some things up. But there’s just not too many people anywhere that can do the things athletically [that he can].
“Even Ben’s a freak and Ben’s going, ‘God, I thought I was athletic.’ He’s just a phenomenal athlete.”
Self said he’s excited to help Wiggins live up to his potential.
“It is exciting,” the Kansas coach said. “It’s exciting and pressure to make sure that he lives up to what so many believe he can be.”
**For more stories on Andrew Wiggins, click here.
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.