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McMullen, Wright Still Waiting : There's No Room for Them in Two Rounds of NBA Draft

June 28, 1989|CURT HOLBREICH | Times Staff Writer

SAN DIEGO — The announcements that Mitch McMullen and Howard Wright waited 3 1/2 hours to hear were never made Tuesday night.

The two rounds of the National Basketball Assn. draft came and went without either player being picked.

That left McMullen, a center from San Diego State, and Wright, a forward from Stanford and Patrick Henry High School, as free agents, eligible to sign with any of the 27 NBA teams.

"I watched the whole draft," McMullen said. "But I kind of prepared myself that if I wasn't taken by a certain point, it was better that I wasn't. That way, as a free agent, I can find my own team."

Already, McMullen said, at least one team has expressed an interest. He said he received a call from the president and general manager of the Houston Rockets, Ray Patterson, as soon as the draft was over. The Rockets did not have a selection, having traded away their two picks earlier.

In years past, both McMullen and Wright might have been selected. But the draft was limited to two rounds for the first time as part of the collective bargaining agreement between the owners and the NBA Players Assn. The draft was three rounds last year and seven in 1987.

While becoming a free agent might give McMullen more options, he nevertheless was disappointed Tuesday.

"It would have been much nicer (to have been picked)," McMullen said. "You get the immediate gratification. But I have had to prove myself at each step, so I might as well go the hard route. I've worked hard to get where I am, and I will continue to work hard."

McMullen, 6-feet-10 and 250 pounds, was one of the few centers available. He was seeking to become the first SDSU basketball player drafted since 1986, when guard Anthony Watson was selected in the fourth round by Denver and forward Steffond Johnson was picked in the fifth round by the Clippers.

McMullen played at Point Loma Nazarene and the College of the Canyons in Valencia before transferring to SDSU. He averaged 13.0 points and 6.1 rebounds as a junior and led the Aztecs in scoring (14.6 points per game) and rebounding (7.9 per game) as a senior.

McMullen might have had his best game when he scored 29 points and had 12 rebounds in a 103-92 loss to North Carolina. But it was about that time that McMullen bruised his Achilles' tendon. He struggled for the rest of the season to regain his shooting touch and conditioning.

"I am just going to stay positive," McMullen said. "I'm going to keep working hard because I strongly believe the NBA is in my future. It is a goal I want to continue to pursue."

Wright teamed with guard Todd Lichti, who was taken by Denver with the 15th pick of the draft, to lead Stanford to one of its most successful seasons. Wright, 6-8 and 235 pounds, averaged 14.5 points and 6.9 rebounds. He is the son of former Charger lineman Ernie Wright.

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