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Archive for Thursday, June 28, 2001

NBA Draft KU

June 28, 2001

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Not former Kansas University center Eric Chenowith. He considers it a "blessing" to have been drafted by the New York Knicks and given an opportunity to play before their notoriously tough fans.

"It's a great sports town," Chenowith said Wednesday night after learning he was a second-round draft pick of the Knicks.

He was the 43rd overall pick in the two-round draft and 11th center chosen overall. His KU teammate -- guard/forward Kenny Gregory -- was not selected.

"This is great. I'm humbled and excited. It's just amazing," Chenowith gushed. "I love coach (Jeff) Van Gundy. It seems he'll do anything for his players. I love watching Allan Houston play. They've got Marcus Camby, Latrell Sprewell, Kurt Thomas, Larry Johnson. You see 'em all the time on TV. It's a good, successful organization."

Chenowith recently worked out for the Knicks.

"They just called. They are excited. They said they believe in me. They think I can be a solid player for them," he said.

The Knicks' front office officials believe in Chenowith, perhaps more than the Madison Square Garden fans who booed the pick after deputy commissioner Russ Granik said in announcing the choice, "New York ... I know you're going to love this pick."

Chenowith didn't see the entire scene unfold on the TV.

"I was walking in from the other room," Chenowith said from his parents' home in Orange, Calif. "I was on the phone with my agent. I walked in and they said, 'Eric Chenowith.' There was my face on the screen. I just froze. My entire family jumped up and started going nuts. They gave me a big hug. There was a lot of excitement."

Chenowith's family members watched the draft with Chenowith's high school coach and one of his high school teammates.

"I was getting really nervous," Chenowith said after he watched 10 centers selected before him. "The whole day I assumed Loren Woods and Alvin Jones (centers) were going to go ahead of me. I guess it surprised a lot of people I went ahead of them."

Woods was taken 46th overall and Jones 57th.

Chenowith was not despondent about not getting picked in Round One and being guaranteed money.

"I wasn't really expected to go in the first round. I had a couple chances. I'm happy where I went," he said. "It's going to be a great opportunity."

Gregory will try to make a team as a free agent. The odds now stacked against him, Gregory's best bet is probably in Europe for next season or the NBA's new developmental league.

Just two Big 12 players were selected -- Chenowith and Jamaal Tinsley of Iowa State who went in the first round to Vancouver at No. 27, but was traded to Indiana. Texas junior Maurice Evans, a native of Wichita, was not selected.

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