Derrick Favors had no idea what uniform draft day would bring.

But now that his future with the Nets is certain, he knows one other thing for sure.

"I'm not a kid anymore," he said during a conference call last night. "Now I have to grow up and grow up fast, really. And get ready to play against some of the top players in the world."

The Nets, who finished 12-70 this past season, selected the 6-10 Georgia Tech forward with the third overall pick in the first round of the NBA draft at Madison Square Garden.

As expected, Washington selected Kentucky point guard John Wall with the first pick, followed by Philadelphia taking Ohio State's Evan Turner.

The Nets had the option of selecting Kentucky's DeMarcus Cousins or Syracuse's Wesley Johnson. But in the end, Favors was just too good to pass up.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

"We just absolutely love this young man," said Nets coach Avery Johnson, who added that Favors needs to put on 15 pounds. " . . . We think we have a combination of a Dwight Howard, with a little bit of - not only power, but also finesse.

" . . . We feel he's the most talented player at that position. When you look at the No. 3 pick, there were a lot of guys we had a chance to decide out of. All those guys are going to be good NBA players, but we were looking for somebody that can be an outstanding NBA player. Somebody that could be a perennial All-Star, in time. And we feel like we got that guy."

The 18-year-old - the youngest American player in the draft and second freshman selected in the first three picks - is an explosive athlete who can rebound and block shots. He has a 7-4 wingspan.

Favors was named ACC rookie of the year after averaging 12.4 points, 8.4 rebounds and 2.1 blocks. He also was named to the ACC All-Tournament team after averaging 17.0 points and 9.8 rebounds and hitting 65.8 percent of his shots from the field.

Former Georgia Tech standout and current free agent Chris Bosh gave Favors some simple yet sage advice leading up to draft day. "He told me work hard and continue to keep my head on straight," Favors said.

@Newsday

Like Bosh, Favors chose to forgo his final three years of college, and because of that, some have questioned whether Favors is NBA-ready. But Favors said his athleticism will help make his transition easier. Working alongside 7-foot center Brook Lopez will be a major factor in his development, he said.

Johnson said Favors likely won't make an immediate impact. "I'll get my hands on him next week," the coach said with a laugh. "He'll have a chance to feel the fury of coach Johnson."