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A jersey first for NBA rookies

Minnesota Timberwolves' Zach LaVine drives by the Chicago

Minnesota Timberwolves' Zach LaVine drives by the Chicago Bulls' Lazeric Jones during the first half of an NBA summer league basketball game Tuesday, July 15, 2014, in Las Vegas. Credit: AP / John Locher

GREENBURGH, N.Y. - Many lifelong basketball dreams went fulfilled on Sunday morning when this year's NBA rookie class put on their team uniforms for the first time during the league's rookie photo shoot.

While these young basketball talents have flourished wearing high school and college jerseys, their NBA uniforms felt a bit more significant.

"It's a different meaning than putting on my college jersey. It's the ultimate dream," said the Minnesota Timberwolves' Zach LaVine, the No. 13 pick out of UCLA. "I got to pick UCLA as my school, but Minnesota picked me to wear this jersey, so it's a great privilege."

One particular jersey that drew buzz from those in attendance at the Madison Square Garden Training Center featured the purple and teal of the newly reborn Charlotte Hornets, who recently changed back from the Bobcats to their original nickname. Hornets rookies Noah Vonleh and P.J. Hairston tried on their new uniforms for the first time on Sunday.

"They're tough," said Hairston, the 26th overall pick of this year's draft. "I hadn't seen them before, but once I took it out of the box I was like, 'Wow.' They're real nice, actually."

While most of the rookies were raving about their uniform colors, Sacramento Kings rookie Nik Stauskas is still adjusting to the shift on the color wheel.

"I never thought I'd be in purple, but I like it," said Stauskas, the eighth overall pick. "It's a little different than Michigan's maize and blue."

Stauskas has already started brainstorming about the potential of his first NBA jersey.

"I use to call myself 'White Chocolate' back in the day," Stauskas said. "If we have the nickname night, I'll do 'White Chocolate' on the back of mine in honor of Jason Williams."

In addition to adjusting to their new uniform hues, switching jersey numbers seems to be a dilemma among some rookies. First-year players do get to pick their own jersey numbers in the NBA, but many of the newcomers found their signature digits already claimed by league veterans.

"I was looking for number 14 like I wore in high school and college, but [Nikola] Pekovic already has it," LaVine said. "Big old Pek is too big to ask for that."

Not all of the players on hand seemed to be dealing with these issues, however. The Brooklyn Nets' second-round draft picks, Markel Brown and Cory Jefferson, each received their preferred jersey numbers and raved about the team's simple yet versatile color scheme.

"I think the Nets have the best colors," Brown said. "It's black and white so you can literally wear anything you want with it."

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