Former University of Missouri basketball player Linas Kleiza was taken with the 27th pick in the draft but didn’t stay with the team that chose him. The Trail Blazers used their second pick in the first round to take Kleiza, but traded him about an hour later to the Denver Nuggets. The Nuggets are owned by Stan Kroenke, who is the father of Kleiza’s former teammate, Josh Kroenke.
There seems to be a trade-trend amongst former Tigers drafted in the first round. Kareem Rush, was taken by the Raptors with the 20th pick in 2002, but was sent to the Lakers. In 2000, Keyon Dooling was taken by the Magic with the 10th pick, but was soon traded to the Clippers.
Kleiza, who averaged 16.1 points and 7.6 rebounds per game as a sophomore, is the 12th former Tiger to be selected in the first round of the draft. Kleiza said last night that he has to improve every aspect of his game to make it in the NBA. “No doubt, I think I’ve got to work on everything to improve like everybody else. I think I’ve got to keep working hard and keep progressing to be a successful player in the NBA,” said Kleiza.
David Lee of Florida was taken by the New York Knicks with the final pick of the first round. Lee was named Mr. Show-Me Basketball in 2001 after a distinguished high school career at Chaminade High School in St. Louis. He averaged 13.9 points and nine rebounds per game as a senior at Florida.