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Originally published June 29, 2007 at 12:00 AM | Page modified June 29, 2007 at 2:05 AM

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Hawes goes 10th to Kings

Spencer Hawes got one measure of validation Thursday for his decision to leave Washington after a year, selected with the No. 10 pick by the...

Seattle Times staff reporter

Spencer Hawes got one measure of validation Thursday for his decision to leave Washington after a year, selected with the No. 10 pick by the Sacramento Kings.

Now comes the hard part — proving the Kings were right for drafting him.

He sounded up for the challenge.

"Can't wait," he said when asked how eager he was to get his NBA career started.

The Kings had long been considered a destination for Hawes as they had worked him out a few weeks ago and were known to want a young big man to begin grooming to help out — or replace — 31-year-old Brad Miller, who is coming off one of his worst seasons.

Hawes, often compared to Miller in style, thinks that's a good fit for him.

"With the personnel they have, I think I'll be able to make a good transition to the next level," said Hawes, who hired Arn Tellem as his agent (the same agent as ex-Washington star Brandon Roy) and plans to head to Sacramento today to begin preparing for summer-league play.

Said Hawes' former coach at UW, Lorenzo Romar: "He's very analytical and he studied all the teams quite a bit in depth that he thought he may have a chance to go to and Sacramento was one of those that he thought ... it was a place he thought he could do well. So he's excited."

And Kings fans are apparently happy to see Hawes — in a recent online poll on the team's Web site, 88 percent said the team should take either a center or a power forward.

Those fans are surely hoping Hawes can do something about the fact Sacramento finished last in the NBA in rebounding last season.

Rebounding, however, remains one of the big question marks about Hawes' game, something he readily admitted again Thursday needs some improvement.

But despite the question marks, Hawes was a hot commodity. He had a second workout with the Bulls this week and thought Chicago might take him with the No. 9 pick.

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He said he was "a little bit" surprised the Bulls didn't snap him up, instead taking forward/center Joakim Noah of Florida. But the nervousness didn't last long with the Kings taking him with the next pick.

"I'm happy where I'm at," he said.

He'll also enjoy a two-year contract that will pay him at least $3.5 million.

That he will get the immediate payoff seemed to justify his decision to leave Washington after one season.

"I think so," he said. "This is the culmination of a lot of hard work."

Romar agreed.

"Early on, people questioned why he would do it and people would say he's not ready yet," Romar said. "You know what? Physically, he may not be ready at this point. He has some things he has to learn. But as I continue to say, the NBA is going to help him with that and they believed that and backed that up by picking him 10th. He can definitely play in the NBA.

"I don't think we've seen the finished product of Spencer Hawes yet at all. And that's what I mean when I say maybe he's not ready yet. But he can definitely play in the NBA, and the Sacramento Kings certainly think so."

Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or bcondotta@seattletimes.com

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