Bucks add North Carolina's John Henson
A smile crept up the corner of Milwaukee Bucks general manager John Hammond's mouth as he addressed the media after the Bucks selected University of North Carolina forward John Henson with the 14th overall pick.
He had spent time Thursday telling some of his players what they could expect with the team's first round selection after he traded down two spots with the Houston Rockets, a move that also netted the team veteran center Samuel Dalembert.
None of those scenarios included Henson, who Hammond felt would have been selected as high as No. 5 overall and probably no lower than Detroit at No. 9.
Once Connecticut 7-footer Andre Drummond fell to the Pistons however, the nervous anticipation began for the Bucks.
"There's no way he's going to be there," Hammond told his staff.
Four picks separated them and teams such as Portland and Houston had big man needs. The Trail Blazers wound up picking Illinois 7-footer Meyers Leonard while Houston went small with Connecticut shooting guard Jeremy Lamb.
There sat Henson then, a former Atlantic Coast Conference Defensive Player of the Year and a player who director of scouting Billy McKinney felt had one of the best individual pre-draft workouts the Bucks had seen.
"His range, we thought, was five to 10, so not really questioning why he was there just thrilled he was there," Hammond said with a satisfied smile.
Hammond said several league executives called to say they would have selected Henson had the draft fallen differently ahead of them, and most teams projected him much higher than 14th overall.
"We were happy that he was there then, extremely happy to have him," Bucks head coach Scott Skiles added. "Just another big, long, talented guy and you can't have too many of those."
For his part, Henson said there wasn't much anxiety on his part as many draft boards were rearranged following Charlotte's selection of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist at No. 2.
"I wasn't surprised," he said. "Things got crazy this draft as you saw and it got pretty wild. I'm glad to be in Milwaukee. It's a great city. I had a feeling they were going to pick me at 14.
"I was just going to be happy. I wasn't worried about where I was going. I just wanted to go to the right city, the right fit and I think Milwaukee's that."
The 6-11 Henson joins a front court that now includes shot blockers 6-11 Dalembert, 6-11 Larry Sanders and 6-10 Ekpe Udoh. Forward Drew Gooden is 6-10 as well.
"At the end of the season, we had a very difficult time protecting the basket and I think right now there is no reason for us not to have a quality shot blocker on the floor at all times," Hammond said. "We are going to be able to protect the basket."
Henson played three years under Roy Williams at North Carolina and averaged 2.6 blocks per game and 8.1 rebounds in his career. His scoring average increased each year, from 5.7 points per game as a freshman to 13.7 as a junior. He averaged a double-double his sophomore year at 11.7 points and 10.1 rebounds.
"He can defend today and he's going to be able to rebound today, but he's got some work to do offensively," Hammond conceded. "You can see signs of his ability. The (pre-draft) workouts are just part of the process but he had a very good workout here and he did some things that we got very excited about, offensively in particular."
In the second round, the Bucks drafted Kentucky guard Doron Lamb.
"We're definitely going to keep him," Hammond said. "To pick up a player like Doron Lamb, we're really excited. We think one of the better shooters in this draft. A lot of people are saying the same sort of thing right now that we thought he was going to go in the first. We had him rated as a first round pick, so we're really excited."
Get Henson a condo in Milwaukee quick....so he can start eating like we Milwaukeans like to eat...he needs to gain 100lbs fast!
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