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Harvey to Knicks, for now at least

By ROGER MILLS, BRIAN LANDMAN and Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published June 29, 2000


He has been described as Dennis Rodman without the tattoos and colorful hair. And now former University of Florida power forward Donnell Harvey might get a chance to play in one of the NBA's most colorful cities.

The New York Knicks, who have Larry Johnson, Kurt Thomas and Marcus Camby at the big-forward spot, selected Harvey with the 22nd pick in Wednesday's NBA draft.

TNT reported late in the first round that Harvey could be traded to Dallas for guard Erick Strickland.

Either the Knicks or the Mavericks appear to have landed a rebounding machine.

"This kid was one of the No. 1 players in the country when he came out of high school," said former Georgetown coach John Thompson, a TNT analyst. "He loves to rebound and he doesn't care who's in his way. He's basically a post-up player who would extend his game with maturity. But, I'm telling you, you're looking at a warrior."

Harvey, who measured 6 feet 7 at the predraft camps, left the Gators after a freshman season during which he defined himself as a tenacious rebounder. Despite coach Billy Donovan's revolving door substitution pattern, Harvey averaged a team-high 7.9 rebounds with 10.1 points.

"He has a special talent that very few players have and that's to get the basketball," former NBA guard Kenny Smith said. "I think if you put all of these (draftees) that are on this list and you throw a basketball up and say, "Somebody go get it,' that's the guy who's going to come down with it. Everyone else will be watching."

Harvey began turning heads while he helped lead the Gators to the national championship game. In a surprising move, the 19-year-old from Cuthbert, Ga., declared for draft and almost immediately his stock started dropping.

NBA scouts and general managers, impressed by his ability to get to the ball, questioned whether he would be able to score against bigger forwards in the NBA. Harvey, who does not have much of a jump shot, also shot only 61 percent from the free-throw line and committed 60 turnovers.

Another concern was his availability during the predraft workouts. Harvey scored 16 points and grabbed 10 rebounds during the first day of the Chicago camp, then sat out the rest of the camp with tendinitis in his knee.

"I'm not sure he was actually injured," said Marty Blake, NBA director of scouting told the Gainesville Sun. "After he was hurt, we set him up for treatments and he didn't show up for a single appointment."

Harvey also missed workouts with the Jazz, 76ers and Knicks because of a groin injury.

He did show up at Purchase College to interview with the Knicks, the team that had shown the most interest.

"All the teams feel he can rebound in the league from Day 1 and be able to handle the 82 games," Donovan said. "If you have a specialty, you can play in this league. Donnell's specialty is rebounding."

NO ONE ON THE LINE: Harvey and teammate Mike Miller, who went to the Magic fifth overall, were the only state college players taken. Miami scorer Johnny Hemsley and Florida State forward Ron Hale, who attended the predraft camps, were not drafted.

Hemsley, who averaged 18.1 points in his senior year, appeared to be a strong sentimental candidate for the Wizards with the 35th pick. But the Wizards, coached by Leonard Hamilton, Hemsley's former coach at UM, selected forward Mike Smith from Louisiana-Monroe.

Hale, who worked out for Charlotte, Toronto, Dallas, Houston, New York and New Jersey, averaged 15.6 points and was a two-time third team All-ACC performer.

HOME AND AWAY: Miller drew the loudest cheers at Target Center. He grew up in Mitchell, S.D., about 250 miles west of Minneapolis. He said he wasn't surprised the crowd -- including a busload that drove in that day -- was behind him. "South Dakota has always had a watch out for me," he said. The stoic Miller, who led Florida to the NCAA title game, said although he'll continue to play far from home, he's happy to be staying in the state of Florida. "You know Orlando is the one I wanted," Miller said.

SECOND IN THE FIRST: Only Neal Walk, taken No. 2 in 1969, was a higher-drafted Gator. The other first-rounders: Jason Williams went No. 7 in 1998; Harvey; and Dwayne Schintzius went No. 24 in 1990.

RISING CLIPPERS: The draft produced many happy faces for the Clippers. The NBA's worst franchise improved dramatically by drafting East St. Louis, Ill., high school star Darius Miles No. 3 overall; taking Quentin Richardson of DePaul with the 18th pick; trading for Corey Maggette and Derek Strong, along with the 10th pick -- Missouri's Keyon Dooling -- and cash from the Orlando Magic; getting Sean Rooks from Dallas for Eric Murdock; and picking Marko Jaric of Fortitudo Bologna of Italy with the first pick in the second round.

It will be a reunion for Miles and Richardson, Chicago-area friends who shared an apartment during the spring while working out in preparation for the draft.

Miles gave no indication he was upset at being taken by the team known by some as basketball purgatory.

"I'm not scared," Miles said. "Being with the Clippers is going to be fun."

REMEMBERING SEALY: Before the draft started, the arena hosts -- Carlos Diaz of NBATV.com and Timberwolves broadcaster Jim Petersen -- led the Target Center crowd in a round of applause in memory of Minnesota swingman Malik Sealy, who was killed May 20 in a car crash. The large-screen television broadcast highlights as fans applauded.

YOUNG AT HEART: Ten of the first 11 picks and 19 first-rounders were underclassmen or high school players, breaking the record of 17 set in 1996.

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