Brown leads way for MSU contingent in draft

"It's awesome (to have three Spartans selected in the draft)," Izzo said. "I was a little worried there, I didn't know exactly where they would go. It was a very difficult draft to get a read on. But they all landed in great situations.

In the end, the last was first... that is, the last Michigan State player to declare himself eligible for the NBA draft was the first of the trio selected.

Former MSU guard Shannon Brown will be playing alongside one of the NBA's most exciting young players, LeBron James in Cleveland, guard Maurice Ager will line up next to Dirk Notwitski while forward Paul Davis finds himself in Tinseltown after being selected by the Los Angeles Clippers.

None of the former MSU standouts will have to struggle with a rebuilding team, all three were selected by teams that were in the NBA playoffs a season ago and appear headed there again in 2007.

"I felt like he could fit into (Coach) Mike Brown's system really well," said Cleveland General Manager Danny Ferry of Brown. "He will compete and battle. He takes pride in what he does defensively and he's athletic and strong enough to make it happen."

In Dallas, Maurice Ager is being billed as the "Wade Stopper", a player the Cavaliers believe will be able to handle Miami guard Dwayne Wade defensively.

``We were looking for a guy who can be a shut-down guy at the two spot," said Mavericks firey coach Avery Johnson. ``We didn`t think we had that on our team last year."

Johnson said he received input from MSU head coach Tom Izzo prior to making the selection.

"I asked coach Izzo, `Who did you throw the ball to in the last two minutes of games?```said Johnson. ``He said, `Hands down, Maurice. Believe it or not, you may be able to count on him in those situations next year.'"

Once the first round was over without his name being called, Davis prepared to go early in round two where he was projected and it didn't take long before L.A. came calling.

"It was a nerve-racking night," Davis explained. "I was upset I didn't get selected in the first round, but the more I thought about it, getting drafted by the L.A. Clippers, an up-and-coming team who had a great run last year, the coaches and players they have and the city of L.A. and being their first pick in the draft, I really think it's going to help me. It's going to be a great fit for me. I'm excited that they liked how I worked out and they like me out there. I'm a Clipper now."

"I saw him on many occasions, and he has good size. He's strong. He's tough. He's physical. He doesn't mind banging, and I know he can hit the perimeter shot," said vice president of basketball operations Elgin Baylor.

But coach Mike Dunleavy had a different take on the former MSU big man.

"He's more of a high-post player," said Dunleavy. "He's a player who has some bulk and can knock down open J's."

For his part, Davis was especially excited to be paired with a player he knows from his younger days, current Clippers center and CMU standout Chris Kaman.

"Whatever they need me to come in and do is going to be my job," Davis said. "Playing with Kaman is going to be a perfect match."

With three players selected in the draft, MSU ranks only behind UConn (11) and Duke (11) for the most players drafted into the pros over the last seven years (10).

MSU head coach Tom Izzo put the best possible spin on losing three top players, including Brown a year early with his comments.

"It's awesome (to have three Spartans selected in the draft)," Izzo said. "I was a little worried there, I didn't know exactly where they would go. It was a very difficult draft to get a read on. But they all landed in great situations.

"I thought it was a huge night for the program," Izzo continued. "The way they talked about our program, there was nothing but positives for Michigan State tonight, not just the basketball program, but the entire university."


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