Philly's Waiters selected by Cleveland in NBA draft

Posted: June 29, 2012

NEWARK, N.J. — After a long and controversial offseason, Dion Waiters is a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Although Waiters never started a game during his 2-year career at Syracuse, the Cavaliers selected the Philadelphia native with the fourth pick of the NBA draft Thursday night. The 6-4 guard averaged 12.6 points per game for the Orange last season.

Waiters became one of the hot topics for NBA draft gurus this year after he left the NBA draft combine without working out and canceled the remainder of his private workouts and interviews. The media assumed Waiters had been promised a selection by a lottery team and his draft status skyrocketed. As Waiters heard his name called at the Prudential Center, all the rumors were laid to rest — he was a Cavalier.

"They gave me a range from one to eight, so I was just trying to keep the faith," Waiters said. "Cleveland called me and it was just a sign of relief. I was excited, very excited."

By adding Waiters, the Cavaliers selected one of the most coveted prospects in the draft. He uses his quick first step to get to the basket as well as any player in the draft class, and should help to spread the floor as a scoring threat. Cleveland will look to use Waiters alongside the first overall pick in the 2011 draft, Kyrie Irving. Irving was on hand Thursday night to welcome his newest teammate to the Cavaliers.

"I just can't wait to play alongside Kyrie, because I know he can help me. He's been here before. I'm going to try to just pick his brain as much as I can," Waiters said. "He was the first person that greeted me off the stage and gave me a hug and told me, ‘Welcome to Cleveland.' That meant a lot to me."

Waiters was not the only addition the Cavaliers made. He will be joined by North Carolina's Tyler Zeller. The 17th overall pick was acquired in a trade with the Dallas Mavericks for Cleveland's remaining three selections. Zeller will join Anderson Varejao and 2011 first-round pick Tristan Thompson in the frontcourt, creating a promising young core.

Although Waiters was born in Philadelphia, he never appeared in a high school game in his hometown. Raised by Monique Brown, a single mother, Waiters attended four different high schools, including a boarding school in Connecticut, before settling in at Burlington Life Center in New Jersey. Heading to Cleveland should allow Waiters to lay down roots for the first time in his young life. The self-proclaimed "momma's boy" said having his family with him was what made his draft experience so special.

"My mom just screamed, ‘Oh my god' about 10 times. She actually got some eyeliner on me, messed my suit up," Waiters said as he chuckled. "Just the fun of having your family there with you enjoying this moment. I'm really at a loss for words, I guess it's just the next step in my life now."

Waiters showed his hometown pride. He shouted, "Welcome to Philly" to 76ers first-round pick Maurice Harkless as they passed one another in the hallway. Once a Philadelphian, always a Philadelphian.

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