Big 'Bucks' For Ford

Former Texas point guard <B>T.J. Ford</B>, who has the uncanny ability to see the play develop before it happens, can now see his NBA future. The Milwaukee Bucks made the All-American their first round draft pick (No. 8 overall) Thursday.

Ford was the fourth guard named, following LeBron James (the high school phenom from Akron, Ohio will remain in-state to play for Cleveland). Fellow Big 12 guard Kirk Hinrich was Chicago’s first round choice, No. 7 overall.

Ford became one of four UT players drafted in the last five years, including Kris Clack (1999, 55th overall pick by Boston), Chris Mihm (2000, seventh overall pick by Chicago then traded to Cleveland) and Chris Owens (2002, 48th overall pick by Milwaukee then traded to Memphis).

The Bucks selection raises questions about whether free agent G Gary Payton will remain with the franchise next season. Milwaukee already has G Sam Cassell on the payroll. The Bucks were eliminated in the first round of the NBA playoffs by eventual Eastern Conference champ New Jersey.

Texas boasted a 48-19 mark with Ford running the floor. Ford was the 2003 Naismith and Wooden Award winner as college basketball's National Player of the Year and guided the Longhorns to their first Final Four appearance since 1947. The third player in school history to earn consensus first-team All-America honors, Ford led the team in scoring (15.0 ppg), assists (7.7 apg), steals (2.0 spg), free throw percentage (.820) and minutes played (33.6 mpg) during the 2002-03 season. He recorded nine double-digit assist performances this past season and ranks second on UT's all-time career assists list (527).

LaSalle Thompson holds the distinction of being the highest draft pick in UT history when he was the fifth overall pick by the Kansas City Kings in the 1982. Texas has had a total of 28 former players selected in the NBA Draft since the draft began in 1947.

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