[media-credit name=”Freddie Lacey” align=”alignright” width=”300″][/media-credit]With the sixth pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, Weber State University point guard Damian Lillard was selected by the Portland Trailblazers Thursday night.
The former Wildcat point guard was selected early in the first round of the draft held in Newark, N.J. The selection matched most professional opinions that he would be a top-10 pick. Lillard became the highest-drafted player in WSU history.
“I couldn’t wait for tonight to happen, and I’m excited to get to Portland,” said Lillard, who attended the draft in New Jersey. “I feel blessed to be in this position. I’m honored to have the kind of support from the fans in Ogden. It says a lot about the community and how they support Weber State. I’m honored by it. ”
Support for the first-ever first-round draft pick was evident, as an estimated 1,500 fans attended the draft party at The Junction in downtown Ogden. Ogden Mayor Mike Caldwell declared the day as Damian Lillard Day for the city of Ogden.
Lillard is leaving the Wildcats in Ogden and on his way to Portland, Ore., to begin his professional career with the Trailblazers, where his leadership qualities and ability to score will be put to use.
The Blazers, who finished the 2011-12 season with a record of 28-38, finished at fourth place in the Northwest Division of the NBA and did not make the playoffs.
Portland has room for improvement this season. When referring to the question on where the Blazers’ needs are this upcoming season, an analyst from NBA.com responds, “How does everywhere strike you? The Trailblazers’ best player, All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge, is recovering from a season-ending injury and needs help on every front. There is a tremendous amount of work to be done up and down this roster.”
The Blazers also ended the 2012 season with a seven-game losing streak. Lillard, however, might be a beneficial addition to their roster when it comes to taking charge of games, putting up big numbers and making everyone better around him.
“He’s got a great feel for when our team needs him to be aggressive, a great feel for when others need to be involved,” said WSU Head Coach Randy Rahe. “If they give him something, he takes it; if not, he goes to the next guy. . . . He’s the kind of kid that if he’s not doing something to get better on a daily basis, he struggles with that. He’s such a focused kid on ‘how do I improve, how do I get better?’”
The official season begins for Lillard, the Trailblazers and the rest of the NBA in the fall.