NEWARK -- In their final minutes before officially becoming NBA players, Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist huddled together in the family seating area at the NBA draft at the Prudential Center.
"We just said whatever happens, happens," Kidd-Gilchrist said Thursday night with a smile. "I'm so happy right now."
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What happened is that three months after winning an NCAA title together, the two Kentucky freshman were again on top of the basketball world as they became the first players ever from the same school to be taken with the top two picks in the NBA draft.
It was no big surprise when the New Orleans Hornets selected Davis with the No. 1 pick. But the crowd went crazy when the Bobcats followed by taking Kidd-Gilchrist, who played at nearby St. Patrick's High in Elizabeth, N.J. Many pundits had Kidd-Gilchrist slipping out of the top four over the past week, and he looked almost stunned when he donned a Bobcats hat and went to shake NBA commissioner David Stern's hand.
Minutes later, he met up with Davis, gave him a hug and started celebrating all over again. Two more Kentucky players were taken in the first round: 6-8 small forward Terrence Jones (18th to Rockets) and 6-2 point guard Marquis Teague (29th to Bulls).
Davis will begin his professional career in the same place he ended his college career -- New Orleans. He may be the most dominant shot-blocker to come into the league since Patrick Ewing. Davis was voted the most Outstanding Player of the Final Four, despite shooting 1-for-10 in the title game. He did have 16 rebounds and six blocks, though, in the victory.
What's most impressive about Davis is that he has almost guard-like skills, likely because that's the position he started off playing. Davis has grown seven inches since the start of his junior year in high school, which was less than three years ago. "This is just a dream," he said.
Davis admitted that even though he knew he was going to be taken by the Hornets when Stern announced that the team was on the clock, he had an attack of the nerves. "It just hit me right then and there," he said. "My arm was shaking and my hands were sweaty. The reality of it all just hit."
Davis said that Kidd-Gilchrist is one of his best friends, and that it was like a dream come true they went 1-2. "It's crazy," he said. "Michael is a great player."
Kidd-Gilchrist's selection meant that the Wizards could get Florida shooting guard Bradley Beal at No. 3. The deft outside shooter was at the top of the wish list of many NBA teams, including the Cavaliers, who reportedly had tried to trade up from No. 4 to No. 2 to get him.
Unlike past seasons, there was a marked lack of trade-day wheeling and dealing, except for the Dallas Mavericks, who traded away Tyler Zeller's draft rights to the Cavaliers after taking him with the No. 17 pick. In exchange they took the rights to the Cavaliers' 24th, 33rd and 34th picks.