Florida’s Joakim Noah, Al Horford and Corey Brewer have had a special bond ever since joining the Gators.
They brought consecutive NCAA championships to Florida, turning it into more than just a “football school.” At Thursday night’s NBA draft, they hope to become the first trio from the same school to be selected in the top 10.
“It’d be amazing,” Brewer said. “I hope that happens.”
UNLV had three players drafted in the first 12 picks in 1991. Larry Johnson was the top pick going to Charlotte. Stacey Augmon was taken ninth by Atlanta and Greg Anthony 12th by New York.
“Not top 10,” Brewer said.
North Carolina was the most recent school to come close, having three of its players taken in the top 13 in the 2005 draft. Marvin Williams went to Atlanta with the second pick; Raymond Felton and Sean May went to Charlotte with the fifth and 13th selections.
In 1999, Duke had four players taken in the first 14 picks. Elton Brand went first to the Chicago Bulls. Trajan Langdon was taken 11th by Cleveland, Corey Maggette 13th by Seattle and William Avery was selected 14th by Minnesota.
The players didn’t travel to New York together, with Brewer and Noah going through a last-minute workout in Phoenix on Tuesday. But Horford, likely the first of the three to be picked, was hoping for a chance to be part of a top-10 trio.
“I thought about it; I haven’t particularly said anything to the guys,” he said. “I think that would be something really special for our group.”
CRASHING DOWN:@ Glen “Big Baby” Davis sprained his left ankle during a workout with the Philadelphia 76ers, one day before the forward was expected to be picked in the draft.
Davis landed on another player’s foot during a routine drill, limped off the court and had the mildly sprained ankle taped.
It was the second time he had worked out for the Sixers and the second time he got hurt. He injured his elbow and cut his lip in the first workout in early June.
The 6-foot-9 Davis, who once weighed 360 pounds at LSU, says he wants to weigh about 285 by training camp and said he expected to be drafted “from 17 on down.” He said he’s currently about 290.
The Sixers have four picks, and Davis hoped to be one of them even if the city isn’t necessarily known for the healthiest food.
“I’m not worried about no cheesesteaks,” he said. “I’m done with all that unhealthy food. I might eat a couple of snacks here and there, I’m still a kid, but this is my job. This is what I do.”
Davis averaged 17.7 points and 10.4 rebounds this past season for the Tigers.
HISTORY LESSON:@ The NBA draft prospects took a special trip to Ground Zero on Monday night after dinner and were in awe of what they saw.
“I was in eighth grade when it happened, and my first reaction was that I didn’t really know what was going on,” former Ohio State center Greg Oden said. “My mom explained it to me and to go down there and see it now with all the construction and memorials was special.”
CELEBRITY STATUS:@ Both Greg Oden and Kevin Durant were surprised at the attention given them in New York. It didn’t hit Oden how big a celebrity he already was until he sneaked out of his hotel room to visit some friends in another hotel. On his way back, he was stopped by a tourist who asked him to pose for a photo because “he was tall.”
He was immediately surrounded by fans who all wanted pictures and autographs.
Durant had a similar experience when he got off the plane at LaGuardia, where he was followed by adoring fans.
Even growing up in New York, Joakim Noah was amazed by the attention surrounding the draft.
Noah walked into the news conference and was swarmed by photographers and writers.
“Wow, why do I feel so special,” he said. “I think that it’s every kid’s dream to play in the NBA.”
GIVING BACK:@ After Wednesday’s media availability, the players went to a local college to put on a clinic for Special Olympics athletes. The NBA has had a relationship with the group for over 30 years, conducting clinics in China, Puerto Rico, Russia, France, Italy and Spain.
BAD TIMING: Spencer Hawes worked out for Minnesota and was a player the Timberwolves might consider with the No. 7 pick.
But playing for the Timberwolves now might mean playing without Kevin Garnett as a teammate.
With speculation swirling that Garnett could be traded before the draft, Hawes realized that Minnesota wouldn’t be nearly as attractive a destination.
A freshman center from Washington, Hawes likely will need time to adjust to the NBA game. Playing alongside Garnett, one of the NBA’s dominant power forwards, would take the pressure off.
“I think that’d be a great person to play with,” Hawes said. “I think any time, especially as a big guy, the perfect players you look to play with are a good point guard to get you the ball and another good big guy to take some of the pressure off.
“I think playing with someone like him would definitely do that, but if he got traded it’s kind of out of your control.”
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