Rafael Araujo Second BYU Lottery Pick at No. 8

BYU's power-center <b>Rafael Araujo</b> defied all pundit predictions when the Toronto Raptors selected him with the eighth pick of today's NBA draft. He is the first top 10 lottery selection since former BYU center, <b>Shawn Bradley</b>, was picked No. 2 by the Philadelphia 76ers in the 1993 draft.

Araujo averaged 18.4 points and 10.1 rebounds last season when he was named co-Mountain West Conference Player of the Year.

He was at NBA draft central – Madison Square Garden in New York – with his wife Cheyenne, infant daughter Pais, and his parents, Neuza and Tadeu Araujo. His parents arrived just days ago from Brazil for their first U.S. visit ever. Both Araujo and his wife were interviewed on ESPN moments after his selection.

Rafael Araujo was projected by most as a likely pick for the Utah Jazz with one of their three first round picks. Jazz owner Larry Miller said last week they planned to take Araujo with their 14th pick. They never got the chance nor did they trade up to pick him.

Araujo's unexpected selection was met with disappointment and dismay by Raptor fans that are not familiar with him.

Toronto's general manager Bob Babcock, just two weeks on the job, urged fans in an interview after he selected Araujo to "have an open mind. I know he's (Araujo) is not a household name … give us the opportunity to play basketball the right way and assemble a team of basketball players that have the type of character we want and we need to win a championship. Araujo is a type of center that makes other players around him better."

Babcock added that "he's got good experience and we really need a big center that will not back down from anybody … Physically, he can compete right away … he's an infectious personality … and he plays basketball for the right reasons."

Babcock was asked if there was any thought to trading down to take Araujo later. He responded there was never any consideration to do so. "We were very concerned. There were teams trying to move in front of us to take him (Araujo) …"

"He may not be a highlight film, leaping over people, dunking-type player, but he is the type of player who makes other players around him better, who does the dirty work, hitting the open jump shot, making the extra pass," said Babcock. "He's got good stats, he's got good experience, he's got a great feeling for the game for someone his age."

Araujo has won over Cougar fans the last two years with a hard-nosed, take-no-prisoners physical style of play that perennially had him in foul trouble.

Interestingly, he likely would not have signed with BYU had he listened to his LDS wife's advice to sign with a more prominent basketball program. Araujo is not LDS.

In an exclusive interview earlier this year with TOTAL BLUE SPORTS magazine, Cheyenne sheepishly admitted that "I did not push Rafa (pronounced "Hafa") or intend for him to go here (BYU). I pushed him to a bigger school. I told him BYU is not a big basketball school and to look at Illinois and Kansas."

She added, "Rafa is a really loyal person. BYU (coach Steve Cleveland) had been there (recruiting him) early in his freshman year, a year and half before anyone else. He (Rafa) felt it didn't matter where you go; that if he worked hard and played well, he's have his opportunity (to play in the NBA).

"That was then, this is now. He's happy and I'm happy with his decision to come to BYU now. There's a feeling here like nowhere else," Cheyenne continued.

She said that many people were telling Araujo before his senior season he was working his way into the first round (of the draft), but noted "it's not real to him. Until the minute it happens, he won't believe it," Cheyenne said.

Now Rafael Araujo can finally believe it. He is expected to earn almost $1.8 million in his rookie year.

© copyright by TotalBlueSports.com

Total Blue Sports Top Stories