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International Players Highlight NBA Draft


The National Basketball Association has become filled with talented players from around the world. Last season, 76 players from 34 countries competed in the widely followed U.S. professional league. It is no surprise that young international players were among the top selections in the latest NBA draft.

Australian Andrew Bogut has been selected as the top overall pick in the National Basketball Association draft held Tuesday at Madison Square Garden in New York City. NBA Commissioner David Stern made the widely expected announcement.

"With the first pick in the 2005 NBA Draft, the Milwaukee Bucks select Andrew Bogut from Australia and the University of Utah," Mr. Stern says.

Bogut's parents are from Croatia, and he played two collegiate seasons in the United States before deciding to turn professional. The two-meter-14 tall center has shown power inside, has good passing skills, and is proud of his original homeland, which has produced several NBA players.

"Just proud for where my whole family came from. Both sides of my family are from Croatia. I was born in Croatia," Mr. Bogut says. "I grew up eating the food, grew up listening to the music and speaking the language. So I am very proud to be Australian and very proud to be Croatian too."

Bogut is the seventh non-American to be selected number one in the draft. Yao Ming of China, selected by the Houston Rockets in 2002, is the only player to be taken number one directly from an international league or federation.

Two-meter-eight tall Fran Vazquez of Spain was selected as the 11th overall pick by the Orlando Magic. He averaged 11-point-three points and five-point-eight rebounds per game this past season in Spain. The Los Angeles Clippers used the 12th pick to take 18-year-old Russian small forward Yaroslav Korolev.

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