NEW YORK (AP) – John Wall is ready to go to Washington and clean up the Wizards.
And he's expected to have more backcourt help when he gets there — whether or not Gilbert Arenas is still around.
The Wizards selected Wall with the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft and agreed to a trade for another guard Thursday, hoping they've found players who can help them quickly bounce back from a season that was embarrassing on the court and in the locker room.
"I feel like I had pressure since I became No. 1 in high school and was one of the top players," Wall said. "I always got there hungry wanting to fight hard and compete in every game, so when I step on the court I'm going to take on any challenge there."
The SEC player of the year is the first Kentucky player ever chosen first overall — and started a record run of Wildcats. He goes to a team still reeling from Arenas' season-ending suspension for bringing guns into the team locker room.
Wall could replace Arenas as the Wizards' point guard, or perhaps play alongside him in a potential high-scoring backcourt. He'll try to become the third straight freshman point guard to win Rookie of the Year honors after Chicago's Derrick Rose and Sacramento's Tyreke Evans — who like Wall also played for John Calipari.
The pick came shortly after a person familiar with the deal told The Associated Press that the Chicago Bulls had agreed to trade veteran guard
Kirk Hinrich and the 17th pick in the draft, Kevin Seraphin, to the Wizards. Hinrich is a solid veteran defensive guard who could help with
Wall's transition to the NBA.
After his name was announced to begin the draft, Wall hugged family members and donned a blue Wizards cap before climbing onto the
stage to shake commissioner David Stern's hand.
Predicted to finish in the top half of the Eastern Conference last season, the Wizards' season quickly spiraled out of control, reaching its low
point on New Year's Day when news broke of the altercation involving guns between Arenas and fellow guard Javaris Crittenton, who also was
suspended for the year. Washington eventually traded fellow stars Antawn Jamison and Caron Butler in a dismal 26-56 finish.
Arenas is eligible to return, but Wall is ready to take charge of the team.
"I was always a leader by example being the first in the gym and the last in the gym," Wall said. "But I'm a leader that doesn't mind speaking
up to the older guys."
Kentucky, which set a record with five players taken in the first round, put its second in the top five when DeMarcus Cousins was taken by
Sacramento. His lavender shirt matched nicely with the Kings' purple, but that wasn't planned.
"We had the suit made long before," Cousins said. "Guess it's made for the moment."
Kentucky put two more players in the top 18 picks when the Houston Rockets chose Patrick Patterson at No. 14 and Oklahoma City took
guard Eric Bledsoe four spots later. Daniel Orton then went to Orlando with the 29th pick, breaking the previous record of four first-round picks
from one school.
The Philadelphia 76ers took national player of the year Evan Turner from Ohio State at No. 2. The notoriously tough Philadelphia fans at
Madison Square Garden liked the choice, loudly cheering and chanting "Evan Turner! Evan Turner!"
"I don't have any pressure. I have a lot of demands of myself," Turner said. "If Philly expects me to be great, then we have a mutual
Derrick Favors became the second freshman taken in the first three picks when the New Jersey Nets chose the Georgia Tech forward.
"I pretty much knew John was going to 1 and Evan was going 2, but I had no idea I was going to the Nets, and when they called me I was just
excited," Favors said.
The Minnesota Timberwolves then grabbed Syracuse forward Wesley Johnson, whom the Nets also had considered. Stern seemed impressed
by the Christmas-colored slacks worn by Johnson, who held up his leg to show them off.
Baylor's Ekpe Udoh also is headed to Northern California, chosen by Golden State at No. 6. Detroit
kept up the run of big men by selecting Georgetown center Greg Monroe with the seventh pick, before the Los Angeles Clippers went for Wake Forest's Al-Farouq Aminu.
Butler's Gordon Hayward went ninth to Utah, one spot before the Indiana Pacers would've faced pressure to pick the hometown star. Instead, they chose Fresno State forward Paul George before Kansas teammates Cole Aldrich (New Orleans) and Xavier Henry (Memphis) went with back-to-back picks.
Aldrich's rights were later sent to Oklahoma City along with veteran swingman Morris Peterson for the rights to the Thunder's Nos. 21 and 26 picks, which became Iowa State forward Craig Brackins and Washington guard Quincy Pondexter.
The draft hadn't even started and already the buzz was on free agency, which opens in exactly a week with LeBron James leading perhaps the deepest class ever. There were even a few chants for the league's MVP, whom the Knicks are expected to make a run at.
Moves were made with July 1 in mind, such as the Bulls' deal with Washington that opened additional salary cap space for perhaps a second top player. Toronto drafted North Carolina's Ed Davis at No. 13, a potential replacement if the Raptors lose Chris Bosh in free agency.
"I know they have big free agents coming up with Chris Bosh and people are saying he's not going to be there, but right now I'm just going to try to work hard and earn the starting job," Davis said.
Thunder add Kansas' Aldrich to mix at center
OKLAHOMA CITY – Add Cole Aldrich to a crowded race to become the starting center for the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Taken with the No. 11 pick in Thursday night's draft, the 6-foot-11 Aldrich was sent to the Thunder in a trade with the New Orleans Hornets.
Oklahoma City gave up a pair of first-round picks and also got veteran forward Morris Peterson in the swap.
Aldrich enters the mix with starter Nenad Krstic and reserve Serge Ibaka, who received increased playing time down the stretch and made a defensive impact in the playoffs. The Thunder also are trying to develop Byron Mullens, who was the No. 24 overall pick in last year's draft.
Despite lacking a big-name center, Oklahoma City led the NBA in blocked shots and ranked third in the league in rebounding last season.