Potential picks gear up for 1st round of National Basketball Association draft

LOUIS COUNTY, MO- By late Thursday night, Chaminade College Prep grad Jayson Tatum will know where his National Basketball Association career will start and where he fits into the league's draft lottery picture.

The Boston Celtics made the first move of this year's National Basketball Association draft days before it began when they traded the No. 1 overall pick to Philadelphia to build on an already rich cache of future selections.

Celtics general manager Danny Ainge and coach Brad Stevens are of like mind in that they put a premium on intense, defensive-minded competitors.

"A couple years ago, I talked about how we were thin on guys that could play a number of different positions, when you talk about 2-3-4", said Stevens.

A rangy athlete regarded as the most NBA-ready scorer in the draft, Tatum was selected after fellow one-and-done talents Markelle Fultz went No. 1 to Philadelphia and Lonzo Ball was picked No. 2 by the Los Angeles Lakers.

With their second selection of the night, No. 37, the Celtics took SMU's Semi Ojeleye, a versatile 6-foot-7 forward who was a projected first-round pick leading up to the draft. Any of them would be prime candidates to select Tatum or Kansas forward Josh Jackson.

Pressed on if the cancellation left Boston considering passing entirely on Jackson, Ainge said he tried to remain calm about the situation.

The most intriguing team in the draft at this point is the Celtics, the most intriguing player Jackson. He offers far more offensive upside than either player, though both Brown and Crowder are better defenders.

But Jackson apparently doesn't want to become a Celtic and reportedly has refused to work out for the organization without an assurance that he will be chosen by them and not traded. "They're a great team, they were the No. 1 seed in the East a year ago, and I just think with so many great veterans and great players like Isaiah Thomas and Al Horford, [Jae] Crowder, [Avery] Bradley, there's so much I can learn from those guys".

When Ainge said in a press conference following the trade announcement with the Sixers that "there is a good chance the player we take at No. 3 will be the exact player we would have taken at No. 1".

"The feeling is everything I wished for and more", Tatum said. "When I kind of got reintegrated into this process, right after the season was over, he was one of the guys that it was clear that we were targeting". "I had to get up at 4 o'clock and fly back home". Tatum was formally introduced by the Celtics at their practice facilities in Waltham on Friday, and the joy of being drafted is still fresh for the 19-year-old.

He turned out to be correct.

It's been a long journey for Jackson, who moved to Utah as a child and attended Lehi as a freshman before becoming one of the top guards in the nation as three-year starter at Lone Peak.

He earned Gatorade National Player of the Year honors during his senior season at Chaminade College Prep in Creve Coeur, Missouri after averaging 29.6 PPG and 9.1 RPG, all while guiding his team to a Class 5A state title. He shot 42 percent from behind the 3-point line and about 53 percent from field-goal range.

  • Julie Sanders