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Only Surprise in the NBA Draft Is the Big Demand for Guards

June 23, 1987|GORDON EDES | Times Staff Writer

The Washington Bullets went small. The Atlanta Hawks went global. The Lakers went Hollywood. Reggie Miller went to Indiana.

The Clippers went for all the help they could get.

And although the San Antonio Spurs, as expected, went for Navy center David Robinson, the surprise of the National Basketball Assn. draft Monday was the number of teams that went for guards.

Six of the first 12 players taken in the first round were guards, as compared to two of the first dozen a year ago. Ten guards in all were taken in the first round, and of the first 27 picks, 13 were guards and 4 were centers.

There were big guards, such as Georgetown's Reggie Williams, who was the fourth player taken in the draft and the first by the Clippers.

There were tiny guards, such as Wake Forest's 5-foot 3-inch Tyrone Bogues, who leaped far beyond projections when the Bullets made him the 12th pick of the first round. The Bullets already had the tallest player in the league in 7-6 Manute Bol. Now they have the shortest, too.

There were high-scoring guards, such as Ohio State's Dennis Hopson, plucked No. 3 by the New Jersey Nets, and gunning guards, such as UCLA's Miller, who went on the 11th pick to the Pacers.

There were three guards taken in the first round from the same high school : Bogues, Williams, and Northeastern's Reggie Lewis, who was taken by the Boston Celtics with the next-to-last pick of the first round. All three went to Dunbar High School in Baltimore.

There were disappointed guards, such as Indiana's Steve Alford, who lasted until the Dallas Mavericks took him in the second round and wondered why his home-state Pacers had preferred Miller.

"Where (Miller) fits in with the Pacers, I don't understand," Alford said. "It's a shame I couldn't play there."

There also was one guard-forward who spent last summer shooting with bottle caps taped to the palm of his hands in an effort to improve his fingertip touch.

That would be St. John's Willie (Hollywood) Glass, who, if he could shoot better, would not have lasted until the 69th pick of the third round, when the Lakers made him their first choice of the draft.

As it was, Laker General Manager Jerry West didn't expect Glass to be around that long. West likened the 6-6, 210-pound Glass to another Laker who was a third-round draft choice in 1978.

"He's a swing guy, a Michael Cooper type, only bigger and stronger," West said Monday from the Forum, where he made the Laker selections and relayed them to broadcaster Chick Hearn, who was representing the team in New York.

"He doesn't have Cooper's offensive skills, but he's a fine athlete."

Glass, who wears a gold chain with the word Hollywood hanging from his neck, also has something of Cooper's defensive reputation. In games the last two seasons against UCLA, for example, Glass shut down Miller both times, limiting him to fewer than 10 points on each occasion.

"I was delighted he was drafted by the Lakers," said St. John's Coach Lou Carnesecca. "I think he fits in perfectly with them. He jumps out of the building, and he's very strong."

Glass, who averaged 16.6 points for the Redmen last season, will also be hard-pressed to make the Lakers, considering that James Worthy and Billy Thompson, the Lakers' No. 1 pick a year ago, are ahead of him at the small forward position.

Thompson underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee Monday. No cartilage or ligament damage was found, the team said, but Thompson has a bruised kneecap. He will be re-examined in a couple of weeks.

With their fourth-round pick, the Lakers selected Glass' one-time high school teammate, 6-1 guard Ralph Tally of Norfolk State in Virginia. Tally, who averaged 28.5 points a game, was the NCAA Division II player of the year last season.

Some teams still thought big. Phoenix used the second pick in the draft to choose 6-9 1/2, 248-pound power forward Armon Gilliam of Nevada Las Vegas. Seattle took Alabama forward Derrick McKey ninth; Chicago grabbed Clemson's 6-10 Horace Grant 10th; and the Clippers took North Carolina's 6-11 Joe Wolf with their second choice of the first round, 13th overall.

Golden State took 6-10 forward Tellis Frank from Western Kentucky; Utah took 6-10 center Jose Ortiz, the Pac-10 player of the year, from Oregon State; and Philadelphia selected 7-footer Christian Welp of Washington.

But no one thought bigger than the Atlanta Hawks. After staying within national borders on their first two picks--6-9 forward Dallas Comegys of DePaul and 6-2 guard Terrence Bailey of Wagner--the Hawks drafted:

--Song Tao, Chinese national team.

--Theofantis Christodouluo, Greece.

--Jose Antonio-Montero, Spain.

--Ricardo Morandoti, Italy.

--Franjo Arapovic, Yugoslavia.

Song, a 6-10, 235-pounder, played on a team that recently toured the United States.

"He's more for the future," said Rick Kaner, the Hawks' international consultant.

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