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Timberwolves select point guard Zach LaVine in first round

By Marcus R. Fuller

St. Paul Pioneer Press

A Timberwolves star from UCLA dominated the headlines leading up to Thursday night’s NBA Draft -- and now the talk of draft night is about another UCLA product becoming Kevin Love’s teammate for now, with athletic point guard Zach LaVine being selected at No. 13.

Will the 6-foot-6, 180-pound LaVine be able to fit in the backcourt alongside Minnesota’s current floor general Ricky Rubio?

What does it mean that Wolves coach Flip Saunders didn’t pick a post player to possibly fill the void left if Love is traded away this summer?

All that seems to be certain right now is that LaVine really, really has the potential to be an exciting rookie with his highlight-reel dunking ability.

If you haven’t watched his YouTube pre-draft dunk videos, you’re missing something.

But the Seattle-area native wasn’t even a full-time starter (one start) in college last season while averaging 9.4 points, 1.8 assists and 2.5 rebounds a game in 24.4 minutes as a freshman in 2013-14. He also shot 37.5 percent from three-point range.

“He has to improve on his finishing,” ESPN analyst Jay Bilas said on the draft telecast. “But you can’t teach the athleticism that he’s got in the NBA.

LaVine’s got athletic bloodlines with his father, Paul, having played in the USFL and NFL, and his mother, C.J., also played softball.

As a senior in 2012-13, LaVine was named the state of Washington’s player of the year at Bothell High School, where he averaged 28.5 points, 3.4 rebounds and 2.5 assists.

He played with incoming Gophers freshman Josh Martin for one season.

"I'm next!" Martin joked recently about going one-and-done.

"Very exciting to see a kid who was my childhood friend and teammate get a chance to be in the NBA," he said.

The Pioneer Press is a media partner with Forum News Service.