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Originally published Friday, June 27, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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Derrick Rose goes No. 1 as freshmen dominate draft

Five of the first seven players selected were freshmen, also an NBA record. It was also a big night for the Pac-10 Conference, which had five of the first 11 picks.

1 Bulls

Derrick

Rose

Point guard

6-3, 196

Memphis

2 Heat

Michael

Beasley

Power forward

6-8, 239

Kansas State

3 Grizzlies

O.J.

Mayo

Shooting guard

6-4, 200

USC

4 Sonics

Russell Westbrook

Point guard

6-3, 192

UCLA

NEW YORK — Derrick Rose is going home, and a record crowd of freshmen are following him to the NBA.

The Chicago Bulls selected Rose, who grew up on the city's South Side, with the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft Thursday night, choosing the Memphis guard over Kansas State forward Michael Beasley.

With Beasley going second to Miami and Minnesota picking O.J. Mayo at No. 3, college freshmen made up the first three picks for the first time in draft history.

"We actually talked about this earlier," Beasley said. "We all grew up together and we all grew up playing against each other and we all made a pact together that we would all be here. Just to see it all fall into place and see it all happen is kind of crazy."

Five of the first seven players selected were freshmen, also an NBA record. It was also a big night for the Pac-10 Conference, which had five of the first 11 picks.

Rose led the Tigers to the national-championship game in his lone college season. The Bulls opted for the point guard's playmaking ability over the scoring and rebounding of Beasley, who ranked in the top three in the nation in both categories.

"We talked so much about it. We really did," Bulls general manager John Paxson said. "Very honestly, at the end when we made our decision, it was unanimous with my scouts and coaches and myself. This was the direction we wanted to go in the end, and it has nothing to do with the talent of Michael Beasley. This had everything to do with the direction we felt was right for us."

Rose is the Bulls' first No. 1 overall selection since they grabbed Elton Brand in 1999. He's the second straight freshman taken with the top pick, following Portland's Greg Oden last year.

The 6-foot-3 guard put on a red Bulls cap, hugged some supporters, including Memphis coach John Calipari, and shook hands with Beasley, seated at a nearby table, before walking onto the stage to meet NBA commissioner David Stern.

"I was a little nervous when they came back out, but I always had that in mind that I want to be No. 1," Rose said. "So it was great hearing my name and being the No. 1 pick."

Miami settled for Beasley at No. 2, even though he wasn't sure if the Heat would go for Mayo instead. Beasley averaged 26.2 points, third in the nation, and topped Division I with 12.4 rebounds per game. But with questions about his size — he may be two inches shorter than the 6 feet 10 he's listed at — the Bulls may not have believed he could play the 4 spot in the NBA.

After Mayo's selection, UCLA guard Russell Westbrook was the first nonfreshmen taken, going fourth to the Sonics.

Kevin Love gave UCLA consecutive picks, going to Memphis at No. 5. The New York Knicks followed with Italian forward Danilo Gallinari, whose father played with new coach Mike D'Antoni overseas. Fans in Madison Square Garden weren't impressed, booing loudly.

Indiana guard Eric Gordon became the fifth freshman taken, going to the Los Angeles Clippers at No. 7.

Nets trade Jefferson

MILWAUKEE — The New Jersey Nets decided to part ways with the second-leading scorer in franchise history, dealing Richard Jefferson to Milwaukee hours before the draft for forwards Yi Jianlian and Bobby Simmons.

Milwaukee has been looking to rid itself of several bloated contracts and decided it was worth trading the rookie taken with the No. 6 pick last year along with the rest of Simmons' contract.

But the Bucks had to add more salary to do it, taking on the rest of Jefferson's deal, three more years at more than $42 million.

O'Neal to Toronto

INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana Pacers traded six-time All-Star forward Jermaine O'Neal to the Toronto Raptors for point guard T.J. Ford, center Rasho Nesterovic, the 17th pick in the draft and a player to be determined.

O'Neal confirmed the trade, which can't be finalized until July 1, when Ford's base-year compensation tag comes off the books.

Note

Yao Ming will return to light training with China's national team today and expects to play in pre-Olympic warmup games. The fitness of the Houston Rockets center for the Beijing Olympics has been a subject of national concern in China since he suffered a stress fracture to his left foot in February.

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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