NEW YORK – The Cleveland Cavaliers made Canadian Andrew Wiggins, a University of Kansas standout, the No. 1 pick in the 2014 NBA Draft on Thursday, launching a great night for Canada and international players.
Four of the first eight players selected came from outside the United States.
The 19-year-old Wiggins is an athletic, 203-cm guard with great leaping ability who averaged 17.1 points and 5.9 rebounds last season as a freshman.
“Just going in and creating impact off the bat,” Wiggins, nicknamed “Maple Jordan” for his explosiveness, said about coming to the NBA.
“Just playing my game and have confidence in myself because I have to believe in myself before anyone else can.”
Jabari Parker of Duke was the second pick made by the Milwaukee Bucks.
The 19-year-old Parker, a polished offensively minded forward who averaged 19.1 points and 8.7 rebounds as a freshman last season, was happy to join Milwaukee, which is about a 90-minute drive from his hometown of Chicago.
“I’m really excited,” said Parker. “You know I get to represent the city of Chicago but also the city of Milwaukee and the whole Midwest, those Great Lakes, Lake Michigan. It feels real good.”
Cameroon’s Joel Embiid from the University of Kansas, the potential defensive ace of the draft, was taken with the third pick by the Philadelphia 76ers.
Power forward Aaron Gordon of Arizona was selected fourth by the Orlando Magic before the Utah Jazz continued the international trend by taking 18-year-old Australian guard Dante Exum with the fifth pick, despite no college experience.
The Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers, not accustomed to picking so high in the annual draft that rewards teams with poor records the higher picks, followed in the order.
Boston took bruising point guard Marcus Smart of Oklahoma State sixth, while the Lakers chose power forward Julius Randle from Kentucky with the seventh pick.
Canada then claimed another spot in the top 10 when the Sacramento Kings picked shooting guard Nik Stauskas from Michigan with the eighth choice.
The Charlotte Hornets chose Indiana power forward Noah Vonleh at No. 9, and Louisiana-Lafayette point guard Elfrid Payton was taken at No. 10 by the Sixers and traded to the Orlando Magic.