NEWARK, New Jersey — The Cleveland Cavaliers selected Kyrie Irving with the first overall pick in the National Basketball Association entry draft.
Thursday's draft was also noteworthy because of the high number of international players chosen early as three of the first six players taken were from Europe.
Irving was cheered on by family and friends as he walked up the stairs to shake hands with NBA commissioner David Stern at the Prudential Center arena.
"I am looking forward to getting to Cleveland," Irving said. "It feels good to put the hat on. I am looking forward to the NBA."
Irving played just 11 games in his only college season last year because of a toe injury.
He is the Cavaliers first No. 1 pick since 2003 when they took LeBron James, who left the team for Miami less than a year ago.
"I didn't have any doubts about going No. 1. I was looking to the organization to pick who they felt was the right choice," Irving said.
"But now to this moment, from being a fan of the NBA draft and now being drafted, it's a special feeling in my heart and knowing that my friends and family were together, it's a memory I'm going to remember for the rest of my life."
The Minnesota Timberwolves took Arizona forward Derrick Williams with the No. 2 pick. The Utah Jazz then took Enes Kanter, of Turkey, third with their first of two lottery selections. Kanter hasn't played competitively in a year after being ruled ineligible for receiving money to play in Turkey.
Irving becomes the third point guard taken first in the last four years, following John Wall in 2010 and Derrick Rose (2008) who was the NBA's MVP this season.
"I'm looking forward to getting to Cleveland," Irving said. "It's a big sports town and I cannot wait to embrace all of the fans there and the fan support. I can't wait."
Lithuania's Jonas Valanciunas went fifth to Toronto and Jan Vesely of the Czech Republic was taken sixth by Washington.
Bismack Biyombo of Congo went seventh to Sacramento. The 18-year-old forward ended up in Charlotte as part of an eight-player three-way deal agreed to earlier that also included Milwaukee.
Hanging over the draft is the NBA's labour woes. Potential top-10 picks such as Jared Sullinger of Ohio State decided to remain in college another year because of the uncertainty.
Stern was booed as he walked to the podium at the start of the draft. He could lock out his players next week if a deal for a new collective bargaining agreement is not reached.
In the biggest trade of the day, the Bobcats sent top scorer Stephen Jackson to Milwaukee in a three-way trade involving Sacramento that gave Charlotte two picks in the top nine of the NBA draft.
The Bobcats also sent the 19th pick, Tobias Harris, and backup point guard Shaun Livingston to the Bucks. Milwaukee, in desperate need of added scoring, also was to receive guard Beno Udrih from the Kings.
Charlotte got the No. 7 from Sacramento, Biyombo, and forward Corey Maggette from Milwaukee.
Guard John Salmons went from Milwaukee to Sacramento. The Kings also got the 10th pick from the Bucks, Jimmer Fredette.