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UCLA's Ariza Is Selected by Knicks

New York takes the forward, who played one season for the Bruins, at No. 43 overall.

June 25, 2004|Lonnie White | Times Staff Writer

Trevor Ariza knew he was taking a gamble when he decided to leave UCLA for the NBA after his freshman season, but that decision paid off Thursday when he was selected by the New York Knicks in the second round with the 43rd overall pick.

"Yeah, I heard all of the talk, saying that if I had stayed in school I would have been a lottery pick next year," said Ariza, who made the All-Pacific 10 Conference freshman team last season. "I heard that stuff a lot. But I didn't look back after I made my decision, and I'm excited to be drafted."

Because the Knicks did not have a first-round pick, Ariza will be treated as a top-shelf player in New York. At 6 feet 7 and 194 pounds, Ariza will play small forward and is thought of highly by Isiah Thomas, New York's president of basketball operations.

Thomas came close to trading up for a late first-round pick to take Ariza but didn't do so after it became clear that he probably would be available in the second round.

"It's somewhat of a surprise, because Trevor didn't even work out for the Knicks," said Todd Ramasar, Ariza's agent. "But they really like him, and it's great that he's in a major market like New York."

The Knicks did not have a first-round pick because of their January trade with Phoenix to get Stephon Marbury.

"We did our homework early, assessed the draft," Thomas told Associated Press. "That's why we gave up our first-round pick to get Marbury and get out of the draft."

Ariza, who missed part of his freshman season because of a collapsed lung in late November and didn't play his first game until Dec. 13, started 23 of 25 games and was the Bruins' No. 3 scorer with 11.6 points per game, and No. 2 rebounder at 6.5. He led UCLA in steals, averaging 1.68, and shot 42.6%, including 23.7% from behind the three-point line.

The only other local collegiate player drafted was Cal State Fullerton power forward Pape Sow, who was selected 47th overall by the Miami Heat and then had his rights traded to the Toronto Raptors.

Sow, who averaged 15.8 points and 9.1 rebounds last season for the Titans, was traded along with a future second-round pick for forward Albert Miralles, who was selected 39th overall by Toronto.

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