The Washington Wizards drafted an athletic European forward, a tough defender from the ACC, and a solid combo guard who played in back-to-back national championship games Thursday. In Jan Vesely, Chris Singleton, and Shelvin Mack, Washington hopes it has three players who will be able to contribute immediately.
With the sixth overall pick, the Wizards selected Vesely, a 6-11, 240 pound forward from the Czech Republic who helped his team, Partizan Belgrade, to the Serbian championship last season. Vesely, 21, is known as an athletic dunker, and when ESPN’s Mark Jones suggested he could be the “European Blake Griffin,” Vesely responded, “Blake Griffin is the American Jan Vesely.” After being picked, the crowd at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J. cheered wildly after Vesely kissed his longtime girlfriend.
In Belgrade, Vesely regularly played in front of crowds of 22,000. One of his teammates in 2011 was former Maryland Terrapin James Gist, also known for high flying dunks. Gist spoke about Vesely to Frank Lawlor of Euroleague.net last February. “He is the most athletic player I have seen in a while, and it’s great to play with a guy like that,” Gist said of the Czech star. “It helps to have someone like him. If for some reason I can’t get the crowd going, he’s right there behind me to do it.”
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