June 29, 2006: Here's The Deal: Five Huskies Taken; Trading Frenzy Sends Gay To Memphis
Four UConn players -- Gay, Hilton Armstrong, Williams and Josh Boone -- were selected in the first round, which tied a record held by North Carolina (2005) and Duke (1999).
Gay was selected by Houston. Armstrong went to New Orleans with the No.12 pick. Williams had to wait until New Jersey selected him with the 22nd pick. The Nets then took Josh Boone 23rd.
Denham Brown was selected in the second round by Seattle, the 40th pick overall. No other school has had five players selected in the draft since it was cut to two rounds in 1989. Rashad Anderson gave UConn an outside shot at having six players drafted but he'll be looking for a job as an undrafted free agent.
Aside from the UConn subplots, the story of the night was the wheeling and dealing that consumed the first round.
There were five confirmed trades by the end of the first round and Gay reportedly was later dealt to Memphis with Stromile Swift for Shane Battier.
The night started calmly enough when Toronto selected Italian forward Andrea Bargnani with the first pick.
Bargnani, a 20-year-old forward with Benetton Treviso, was the first European player picked first overall and the second international player without U.S. experience to be selected with the first pick.
China's Yao Ming, who was taken with the first pick by Houston in 2002, was the other.
``It's an incredible feeling,'' Bargnani said. ``I feel so excited, so proud to represent my country. It's an incredible sensation that I can't describe in words.''
After this tranquil opening, it was chaos. As expected.
The absence of high school players, prevented from entering the draft by the new collective bargaining agreement, made this draft less about finding a potential superstar and more about finding immediate help.
Portland was the busiest team.
The Trail Blazers used Sebastian Telfair as the centerpiece of a deal with the Celtics that brought them Boston's first pick (No.7), Villanova guard Randy Foye.
Foye was dealt to Minnesota for Brandon Roy, whom the Timberwolves took No.6.
``It was definitely a dream of mine to play in Seattle or Portland,'' Roy said. ``I went to the University of Washington where my family could drive 20 minutes to games. Now they can drive two hours to games.''
The Telfair trade was the first sign that Williams might be in for a long night.
The Celtics were one of the teams supposedly interested in Williams but were apparently scared away by poor pre-draft workouts.
Portland also connected with Chicago on a deal that netted them Texas forward LaMarcus Aldridge, the No.2 pick in the draft, for Tyrus Thomas, the hyper-athletic forward out of LSU selected fourth.
Most expected Gay to go third to Charlotte but the Bobcats took Gonzaga forward Adam Morrison.
Morrison, not Gay, will be team with Emeka Okafor and play under the watchful eye of Michael Jordan.
``It would be awesome if I could get some hands-on instruction from Mike,'' Morrison said. ``Any time the greatest player of all time is telling you what to do -- I mean if he told me to tie my shoes a certain way -- I would listen.''
After Charlotte passed, it was clear Gay was going to slip. Portland was committed to Thomas on behalf of Chicago and Atlanta wanted size with the fifth pick and selected Duke's Shelden Williams.
The next two picks were already part of trades and that left Gay to Houston.
``Personally, I just felt kind of let down,'' Gay said. ``But then again, you know, it's all about the right fit.''