It was a defining moment for the anxious players — now happy to be professional hoopsters.
“I am really shocked that I was taken as the No.1 overall pick,” Takanori Goya said at the 2006 bj-league draft in Tokyo on Monday afternoon.
Goya was selected by the Toyama Grouses, one of the two expansion teams for the 2006-07 season, along with the Takamatsu Five Arrows.
“I’m extremely honored,” the 1.88-meter former Nihon University player said.
The Five Arrows had the second overall pick and chose the 1.96-meter Teruaki Ishida of Chuo University. Ishida, like Goya, came to the draft not expecting that he would be chosen that high.
“I never thought my name would be called in the first round,” he said.
“Right now, I have no words to describe my feelings. But I’ll be a pro, so one thing I know for sure is that I have to take the sport more seriously than ever.”
The reigning and inaugural bj-league champion Osaka Evessa had the fourth and fifth overall picks and used them to select Hirotaka Sato, late of the JBL’s Matsushita Electric Super Kangaroos, and Tasuku Saito, of Nippon Sport Science University, following the Sendai 89ers, who picked Kenichi Takahashi with the third overall selection.
Meanwhile, the draft carried a bit of international flavor. Takamatsu chose Senegal’s Diagne Thierno Seydou Nouro, who played at Fukuoka Daiichi High School, as the seventh overall pick and American Isaac Sojorner at 16th overall, while Toyama took South Korean Eum Seung Min as the eighth overall pick.
The Five Arrows selected Shuhei Shiroma as the 10th pick.