Passed Terp still feels like a King Williams taken No. 7 after Bullets say no

June 25, 1992|By Ken Rosenthal | Ken Rosenthal,Staff Writer

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Walt Williams looked stunned. He stood up, kissed his mother and buttoned his jacket. Then he took a deep breath and walked to the podium, the seventh pick of the NBA draft.

Williams wasn't upset about becoming a Sacramento King, he )) was simply overwhelmed by the moment. In fact, it didn't bother him in the least that the Washington Bullets bypassed him last night at No. 6 to take North Carolina State forward Tom Gugliotta.

"I'm not disappointed at all," said Williams, the 6-foot-8 Maryland guard who grew up in Temple Hills, Md. "I knew the Bullets would do what was best for them. That's all they did. I'm happy to be a Sacramento King."

The question now is what position the versatile Williams will play in Sacramento, a young team built around shooting guard Mitch Richmond, small forward Lionel Simmons and power forward Wayman Tisdale.

But on this night, before a capacity crowd of 7,000 at the Portland Memorial Coliseum and all the glitz the NBA had to offer, Williams hardly seemed concerned.

It was a day of unmatched tension for the group of players expected to be chosen after the Fab Four of Shaquille O'Neal, Alonzo Mourning, Christian Laettner and Jim Jackson.

"I had heard so many things, I didn't know what to believe," Williams said. "I heard everything from Denver to the Bullets to Sacramento to Milwaukee to the Sixers, everything from five to nine. I heard it all. I really didn't know where I was going."

The first four picks, of course, fell into place shortly after the draft lottery May 17. As expected, O'Neal went to Orlando, Mourning to Charlotte, Laettner to Minnesota and Jackson to Dallas.

The drama began at No. 5, where Denver selected Notre Dame's LaPhonso Ellis, a 6-foot-8 power forward whose stock rose dramatically in the weeks leading to the draft.

The Bullets followed by taking the 6-foot-10 Gugliotta, who led the Atlantic Coast Conference in rebounding last season and ranked second to Williams in scoring.

Williams' agent, former Maryland star Len Elmore, said he became aware of the Bullets' intentions after speaking with Washington general manager John Nash earlier in the day.

That left the Kings.

"I've said all along that he might be the most versatile guy in the draft," Elmore said. "He fits in a number of need areas in Sacramento.

"He obviously can bring the ball up, play a point-forward type of game. A guy like Walt can play in three positions, force a lot of teams to adjust."

At first glance, it appears Williams could challenge Spud Webb at point guard. But Sacramento coach Gary St. Jean, a disciple of Golden State's Don Nelson, is a creative sort who probably will use Williams in a variety of spots.

NBA scouting director Marty Blake scoffed at Williams' ability to play the point before the draft, but Elmore said, "I don't know if that position even exists anymore. Ask the Chicago Bulls if they have a true point guard."

Williams stated flatly, "It doesn't matter to me."

Such was the attitude of most of the players selected last night. Some went lower than expected -- Stanford forward Adam Keefe dropped to No. 10 (Atlanta), Southern Cal guard Harold Miner to No. 12 (Miami). But the majority were delighted simply to be joining the NBA.

"I was squeezing my mother's hand as we waited," said Clarence Weatherspoon, a Charles Barkley clone who went to Philadelphia at No. 9. "I'm the youngest of 10 children and my dad passed away when I was very young. I want to be able to take care of my mother and help other members of my family."

Denver was the only team with two picks in the top 15, and it grabbed Ellis at No. 5 and Virginia guard Bryant Stith at No. 13. Of course, no team benefited more than Orlando, which now must sign the 7-foot-1, 294-pound O'Neal.

O'Neal said he spent yesterday inside. "I didn't want to go out of my hotel room and get hit by a bus," he said. "So, I stayed inside until about 2 p.m., then I came here."

Mourning, the 6-foot-10, 240-pound Georgetown center, should

further establish Charlotte as one of the NBA's rising young teams. The Hornets feature last year's No. 1 pick, Larry Johnson, and the No. 5 pick in 1990, Kendall Gill.

Earlier in the day, the New York Knicks resolved their pressing need for a shooting guard, parting with their first-round pick in 1995 to obtain Rolando Blackman of the Dallas Mavericks.

Blackman, who had spent his 11-year NBA career with the Mavericks, averaged 18.3 points last season and shot 46 percent from the field. He played in 75 games and averaged almost 34 minutes a game.

In another move, the Knicks released forward Kiki Vandeweghe, who had one year left on his contract. Vandeweghe, a 12-year NBA veteran, spent three-plus seasons with the Knicks, who acquired him from Portland in 1989.

The Bucks, meanwhile, traded point guard Jay Humphries and forward Larry Krystkowiak to Utah for forward Blue Edwards, guard Eric Murdock and the Jazz's first-round pick last night.

As for Williams, it's on to Sacramento. He attended the draft with his mother, his aunt and his niece. His mother, Theresa Williams, VTC wanted the Bullets to draft him. But Walt said she had no complaints.

"Of course, your mom is going to want you to stay home," he said, smiling. "But it doesn't matter to her. Whatever makes me happy, makes her happy."

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