June 29, 2005
But not with Gerald Green still on the board.
So when Gomes was still around for the Celtics to select at the 50th pick of last night's NBA Draft, the choice . . .? Well, there really was no choice.
"I don't know if we could have drawn it up any better," said Ainge. "It's just luck that Ryan was there for us. Ryan was one of those guys that played four years of college ball and people saw the weaknesses. But he is a guy we seriously considered at No. 18. We couldn't believe it. In the war room, as we were getting to 40, people were saying, 'Trade 50 and 53 to get 42. Trade 50 and 53 to get 45.' But we were lucky that we got the guy."
Gomes, who grew up in Waterbury, Conn., spent draft night at home after working out for the Celticsfor a second time Monday.
Gomes, who toyed with entering the draft last year, was a little chubby, a bit of an undersized power forward, Ainge said. So he made himself into a small forward and made himself attractive to, for one, the Celtics.
"I know earlier they had definitely expressed an interest," said Gomes's agent, Andrew Woolf, who had not spoken to his client since Gomes learned of his draft slot. "I spoke with a friend of his who was in the room. He was definitely happy. He was definitely looking forward to going to Boston. His two choices were Boston and the Knicks."
So, after a season in which he averaged 21.6 points, 8.2 rebounds, and 3.2 assists, there he was on Boston's draft board.
"I'm shocked," Ainge said. "To me that's more of a shock to me than Gerald Green being there at 18, that Ryan Gomes was at 50. I think he could be a starter in this league."
Baffling a few prognosticators, Connecticut's Charlie Villanueva was taken at No. 7 by Toronto, a team that has a power forward in Chris Bosh.
Most had the 6-foot-4-inch, 240-pound Villanueva lasting until the mid-teens.
Ainge, for one, was not surprised he went high.
"I was not shocked at Charlie Villanueva," Ainge said, "He's a heck of a player."
He's a player who jumped in and out of the NBA picture over the past few years. He nearly entered the draft after high school, withdrawing at the deadline and heading to UConn for two years. But, in the end, two years was enough. Enough for No. 7, at least.
Enough to be the first power forward taken in the draft, followed at No. 11 by Spain's Fran Vazquez.
Villanueva averaged 11.2 points and 6.7 rebounds in his two years in Storrs, including 13.6 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks last season.
Three other players with New England ties went in the first round. North Carolina's Rashad McCants, who attended New Hampton (N.H.) Prep, will join Minnesota, which took him 14th. Former Lawrence Academy (Groton) and Texas A&M guard Antoine Wright went at No. 15 to New Jersey. Jarrett Jack, who played at Worcester Academy and Georgia Tech, was picked 22d by Denver, then traded to Portland.