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This time the Duke pick wasn't a dud

Juneau rookie plays like a veteran for Cavs

Posted: Wednesday, April 23, 2003

CLEVELAND - Before rookie forward Carlos Boozer of Juneau was taken by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2002 NBA Draft, the Duke University pipeline to Cleveland wasn't panning out.

Former Duke star forward Danny Ferry was acquired from the Los Angeles Clippers along with Reggie Williams for Ron Harper in one of the most controversial trades in the 33-year history of the franchise and played for the Cavs from 1990-2000.

Ferry averaged 7.8 points per game during his tenure with the Cavs.

Then there was guard Trajan Langdon of Anchorage (1999-2002), the first-round pick (No. 11 overall in the 1999 draft) who averaged 5.4 points in Cleveland and is now playing for Benetton Treviso in Italy.

And don't forget guard/forward Antonio Lang (1995-96, 1996-97 and 1998-99), who ended his brief stint with the Cavs averaging just 2.8 points.

So what did the Cavs do in last year's draft?

They took Boozer, another Duke standout and a 1999 Juneau-Douglas High School graduate, in the second round, the 35th pick overall.

But finally it appears the Cavs made the right decision about a Duke player.

The 6-foot-9, 258-pound Boozer developed into one of the top rookies in the league, averaging 10.0 points (third highest among rookies) and 7.5 rebounds (also third). He also was third in the entire league in field-goal percentage (.536).

The Carlos Boozer Archive

Boozer was named the NBA's Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month for April last week.

"There is no way he should be kept off the All-Rookie team," said Cavs coach Keith Smart, referring to the team that will be announced in May. "He looked like a veteran because no matter the situation on the floor, he just wanted to play. He did it all season long and has a very serious approach to basketball."

Boozer, who left Duke after his junior year, said he was not bitter about not becoming a first-round pick, but it was important to him to have a productive season.

"Not being drafted in the first round actually motivated me," Boozer said. "I felt that I should've been a first-round pick, but I couldn't do anything about it except work hard and show that all those other teams made a mistake by not picking me."

Some of Boozer's season highlights included:

• A career-high 27 points March 19 at Memphis.

• A career-high 16 rebounds against Boston on March 29.

• He played 43 minutes against the New York Knicks on April 12, scoring 17 points, grabbing 14 rebounds and dishing out four assists.

Two games later, in the regular-season finale against Toronto at Gund Arena, the Cavs won 96-86 as Boozer scored 13 points and grabbed eight rebounds.

Boozer finished the season strong, averaging 11.4 points and 9.8 rebounds in his last five contests.

Boozer said he was encouraged by the team's play the last month of the season, and the win in the last game of the year was a good way to end a frustrating and trying season.

"We are definitely excited about next season," Boozer said. "I think we all learned a lot this year because we were all pretty young. We all got experience, so we have a chance to have great summers individually, come back as a team, and know what each other can do. I'm excited about next year and I think everyone on the team is."

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