WALTHAM, Mass. (AP) – The Boston Celtics’ first two draft picks both thought they would hear their names called earlier in the night. The Celtics are glad they didn’t.

The Celtics used the 18th pick in Tuesday’s draft to take Gerald Green, a Houston high school star who was widely considered a lottery pick. Then they drafted Providence College’s Ryan Gomes in the second round with the 53rd overall pick, a slot that disappointed Gomes.

Although glad to be in Boston, Green and Gomes are both determined to prove the skeptics wrong.

“I thought I would be drafted earlier, but I wasn’t caught completely off guard,” Green said Wednesday at the team’s practice facility in Waltham. “I had heard that other players had outstanding workouts. If some players’ stock rises, that means another player has to drop.”

Gomes, Providence’s all-time leading scorer, had planned to enter the draft last year, but the power forward took an extra year to revamp his playing style to suit the small forward spot in the NBA.

“He’s thrived, even after the changes he had to make,” said Danny Ainge, executive vice president for basketball operations. “We thought he was good enough to be a first round draft choice.”

Green, a 19-year-old swingman from Gulf Shores Academy, was named the Most Valuable Player of the Reebok ABCD All-Star camp last summer. At the conclusion of his high school career in March, he led all scorers with 24 points in the McDonald’s High School All America game.

Celtics coach Doc Rivers said Green’s athletic gifts – not to mention his outside shooting touch – remind him of Houston Rockets star Tracy McGrady, whom he coached in Orlando.

“But it’s important for Gerald Green to be Gerald Green,” Rivers said. “If he plays to his potential and works at it, there’s no limit to his upside.”

Green said he is honored by the comparison.

“I pattern my game after his,” he said of McGrady.

Orien Greene, the Celtics’ other second-round pick, didn’t attend Wednesday’s news conference.

The three picks are the latest additions to the Celtics’ youth movement. Last year’s first-round picks – Al Jefferson, Tony Allen and Delonte West – all figured prominently in the team’s success, and many consider Jefferson, a 6’10” power forward to be a budding superstar.

“I think we should be very strong for a number of years, if we can keep these guys together,” Rivers said. “People may worry that we’re becoming too young, especially since Gerald is like Al, just out of high school. But I’d rather bring young guys in to play with other young players.”

All three draft choices are expected to play when the Celtics compete in a summer league in Las Vegas, beginning July 6.

AP-ES-06-29-05 1936EDT


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