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Hayward drafted by Wizards

Lazar Hayward and his family were at the Red Robin restaurant in Orchard Park on Thursday night and weren't even paying attention to the NBA draft. He couldn't eat anything and his stomach was upset, obviously because the draft was on his mind. Then he received a phone call.

"Hey man," the caller said, "you need to pay attention to the draft."

Hayward found a television and heard NBA Commissioner David Stern say something that he never thought he'd hear. The former Traditional star was taken with the 30th overall pick by the Washington Wizards.

"To hear David Stern say my name is surreal right now," Hayward said. "I wasn't watching the draft and I wasn't planning on watching it, either. I'm shaking like crazy because I can't believe it's even real."

But Hayward wasn't a Wizard for long. Washington had a proposed deal to swap the 30th and 35th picks with the Minnesota Timberwolves for the 23rd and 56th selections, pending NBA approval. The No. 23 pick by Minnesota was 6-foot-7 forward Trevor Booker from Clemson.

Hayward became the second Western New York native to be drafted in as many seasons, following former Niagara Falls High School and Syracuse University point guard Jonny Flynn, whom the Minnesota Timberwolves took with the sixth pick overall last year. Now it appears the Western New Yorkers will become teammates.

Hayward also is the first product from the Buffalo Public Schools to get drafted since Seneca's Damone Brown was the second-round pick of the Philadelphia 76ers in 2001.

Unlike Flynn, who knew he was going to be selected high in the first round, Hayward was totally caught off-guard.

"I can't even tell you how I feel, this is crazy," Hayward said. "I had no idea, literally no idea. I went through every workout like I wasn't going to get drafted and I didn't know what was going on. My agent didn't know either and I didn't ask him."

Hayward was expected to be taken in the second round, but his stock rose steadily after he impressed scouts during the postseason. He worked out for 14 teams, but not the Wizards, who took Kentucky point guard John Wall with the No. 1 overall pick.

"We talked a little bit with the Wizards after I got drafted and they told me they were interested," Hayward said. "They liked the way that I played and they liked what I brought to the table. They liked my character."

After a solid junior year, Hayward was Marquette's top option this past season, often playing as an undersized power forward or center at 6-foot-6, 225 pounds. None of that mattered when it came to production.

He led Marquette in scoring (18.1 points per game), rebounds (7.5) and steals (1.9) as a senior to earn second-team all-conference honors. He ended his career as the school's second-leading rebounder and fifth-highest scorer.

NBA scouts took notice of Hayward at the NBA Combine in Chicago last month. His measured height of 6-feet-4 3/4 in bare feet and 6-5 3/4 in shoes was slightly shorter than the 6-6 Marquette listed him at. But his 7 3/4 -foot wingspan and 36-inch vertical leap were better than expected, as was his 10.87-second time in a lane-agility drill, which was second only to the 10.84 seconds recorded by Wall.

Hayward also bench-pressed 185 pounds 15 times, 11 fewer than his college record, but tied for 10th-best at the combine with Georgetown center Greg Monroe, who was selected by Detroit with the No. 7 pick overall, and Nevada forward Luke Babbitt, who went 16th to Minnesota. Hayward impressed in shooting drills, making 17 of 25 attempts from the college three-point line and 15 of 25 behind the longer NBA arc.

All aided Hayward in becoming a first-round pick.

"When people say your dreams come true I actually know how that feels," he said.

The Timberwolves, after taking Flynn last year, made another Syracuse player their top pick, choosing forward Wesley Johnson with the fourth overall selection.

The Timberwolves bypassed Kentucky center DeMarcus Cousins to address one of their biggest needs. The 6-foot-7 Johnson averaged 16.5 points and 8.5 rebounds and was a first-team All-American in his only season with the Orange.

Former University at Buffalo and Hutch-Tech standout Rodney Pierce was not drafted.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

e-mail: rmckissic@buffnews.com

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