Magic select Howard as No. 1 draft choice

NEW YORK (AP) – In the capital city of sarcasm, Emeka Okafor answered with a straight face when asked about being chosen second rather than first in the NBA draft.

"It made me feel real special, all warm inside," Okafor deadpanned on a night when potential was valued more than experience and high schoolers were a hotter commodity than college kids.

High school senior Dwight Howard of Atlanta was chosen No.

1 by the Orlando Magic, becoming the third prep player in the past four years to be chosen first overall.

The expansion Charlotte Bobcats scooped up Okafor at No.

2, getting the player they preferred all along.

Eight high school players were chosen ahead of Jameer Nelson, the college player of the year who dropped to the Denver Nuggets at No.

20 and was subsequently dealt to Orlando for a future No.

1 pick.

A crowd of about 10,000 fans in Charlotte cheered when Okafor was not selected by the Magic, and owner Bob Johnson nodded his head and smiled.

Fireworks then exploded, and orange and white confetti and streamers rained down on the cheering crowd.

Okafor's UConn teammate, Ben Gordon, went third to the Chicago Bulls, marking the second time in three years teammates have been selected second and third.

"Other people may be surprised, but I always thought I should go No.

1," Gordon said.

High school senior Shaun Livingston of Peoria, Ill., went fourth to the Los Angeles Clippers, who had traded down from No.

2 this week in a deal with the Bobcats.

Wisconsin guard Devin Harris was chosen fifth by Washington, which was picking for Dallas as part of a trade agreed to Wednesday night that sends Jerry Stackhouse and Christian Laettner to Dallas and Antawn Jamison to the Wizards.

Stanford junior Josh Childress went at No.

6 to Atlanta, which had been trying to move up to No.


Duke freshman Luol Deng was picked seventh by Phoenix, which traded him to Chicago for a future first-round pick, cash and the rights to the 31st pick, Jackson Vroman.

Toronto Raptors general manager Rob Babcock made his first personnel move by selecting Brazilian center Rafael Araujo of BYU, Philadelphia chose Arizona forward Andre Iguodala at No.

9 and Oregon forward Luke Jackson went to Cleveland.

Sebastian Telfair of Lincoln H.S.

in New York City was chosen 13th by Portland.

The Utah Jazz had three first-round picks, selecting Minnesota forward Kris Humphries (14th), Nevada guard Kirk Snyder (16th) and 7-foot-5 Russian Pavel Podkolzine (21st), who was dealt to Dallas for a future first-round pick.

Boston also had three first-rounders and chose high school senior Al Jefferson (15th), St.

Joseph's guard Delonte West (24th) and Oklahoma State guard Tony Allen (25th).

Prep players Josh Smith (Oak Hill Academy), J.R.

Smith (St.

Benedict's Prep, Newark, N.J.) and Dorell Wright (South Kent Prep, Conn.) went to Atlanta, New Orleans and Miami with picks 17-19.

Eastern Europeans were favored in the bottom third of the first round, with Russians Podkolzine and Sergei Monia (No.

23, Portland) and Ukrainian Viktor Khryapa (No.

22, New Jersey, traded to Portland) joining Slovenians Sasha Vujacic (picked 27th by the Lakers) and Beno Udrih (No.

28, Spurs).