Former JDHS star Boozer ready for his NBA opportunity

Posted: Friday, June 28, 2002

JUNEAU (AP) -- One day after being picked by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the second round of the NBA Draft, former Juneau-Douglas High School basketball star Carlos Boozer Jr. said he's excited about playing for the Cavs.

''I feel great. I'm doing terrific. I'm really excited,'' Boozer said by phone Thursday afternoon. ''It's a great opportunity, even though I was disappointed at first. I was anxious to see where I'd go after some of the foreign players were picked in the first round.

''But in the long run, it may be a blessing in disguise for me. I talked to (Cavs coach) John Lucas and (senior VP/general manager) Jim Paxson for awhile and I think I'll have an opportunity to contribute in Cleveland.''

Boozer had been projected as a mid- to late-first round NBA pick after being named a third-team all-American last season as a junior center-power forward at Duke University. But the former Crimson Bear spent a frustrating Wednesday evening at his parents' house in Raleigh, N.C., watching as his draft stock slid as foreign players and young projects were chosen ahead of him.

Finally, with the 35th official pick, Cleveland made Boozer the third Alaskan to ever be selected in the draft. The first was former Bartlett High School and University of Alaska Anchorage guard-forward Tony Turner, who was selected in the seventh round of the 1981 draft by the Detroit Pistons but never advanced past the Continental Basketball Association.

The other Alaskan was former East Anchorage High School and Duke University guard Trajan Langdon, who was picked in the first round of the 1999 draft by Cleveland.

''I think he's a terrific ball player,'' Boozer said of Langdon. ''We've both been at Duke and now we'll both have been at Cleveland. It is ironic, since we're both from Alaska.''

When Boozer made his grand tour of NBA cities for tryouts, he visited about 16 teams. But Cleveland, which had the sixth pick in the draft, wasn't one of his stops. The Cavs went for a guard with their first pick, Memphis freshman Dajuan Wagner, and Paxson said they thought Boozer would be long gone before it was time for Cleveland's second pick.

''We were very happy to have Carlos fall to us,'' Paxson said in a post-draft press conference. ''He was projected as a first-round pick and, while I'm sure he's disappointed to fall to the second round, we were glad he was there. He's used to winning and had a lot of success in a very good conference. We needed another big body up front and Carlos has a good chance to make our team and play some minutes.''

When Boozer slid in the draft, he lost several hundred thousand dollars in potential salary. First-round NBA picks are paid three-year guaranteed contracts based on a set scale, with the last pick of the first round earning about $2.1 million. Second-round picks (the NBA Draft only has two rounds) aren't guaranteed a salary and players have to make the roster to earn at least the NBA minimum salary of $350,000 a year.

Boozer said he hasn't really discussed contracts with the Cavaliers, but he expects his agents -- Arn Tellem and Rob Pelinka of SFX Basketball Group -- will get him the best deal possible. SFX represented 43 percent of the players selected in the 2001 draft and is one of the more prominent firms. Langdon is also an SFX client.

''I'm looking at a one- or two-year deal and then I'll be a free agent,'' Boozer said. ''I expect my contract will be done pretty soon.''

For the time being, Boozer said he will be in the Raleigh-Durham area while he works out and tries to finish some of the coursework he needs for his sociology degree. Boozer said he is four classes short of his degree and plans to graduate with his class in May 2003.

Boozer will head to Utah Summer League in mid-July and then returns to North Carolina for his wedding to Cindy ''CeCe'' Blackwell in August, followed by a honeymoon in Hawaii.

NBA training camps open Oct. 1, and games start at the end of October.

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