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Bucks tag Yi as first pick; questions arise whether he'll stay

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Ellsworth, 54011
Pierce County Herald
715-273-4335 customer support
Ellsworth Wisconsin 126 S. Chestnut St. 54011

Yi Jianlian of China looked somber Thursday night as the Milwaukee Bucks took him with the sixth overall pick in the NBA Draft.

His representatives refused to let Bucks audition the 6-11 forward in advance.

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They wanted him to play in a city with a bigger Asian population and they didn't think he'd be a good fit in Milwaukee, because the Bucks already have Andrew Bogut and Charlie Villanueva at the power spots.

That led to almost immediate trade rumors, but Yi said he expects to play for the Bucks even though he was surprised they drafted him.

A lot was made of the fact that general manager Larry Harris never saw Yi play.

But Bucks' player personnel director Lee Babcock did see him quite a bit a few years ago and he expects Yi to play about 20 minutes a game as a rookie.

He had 25 points and 12 rebounds a game in a Chinese league last season. Yi played on China's world championship team in 2006 and the country's Olympic team in '04.

As for Yi's hesitancy about Milwaukee, Harris said Sam Cassell, Glenn Robinson, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar also had their doubts coming in and they loved the place.

In an unusual move, Yi will not come to Milwaukee for a news conference today. Instead, he'll join the Chinese national team in Dallas, where they're scrimmaging through Tuesday.

He'll then go to Las Vegas to play in an NBA summer league.

The Bucks also had one second round pick.

They took guard Ramon Sessions of Nevada at No. 56. He averaged 12 points, five rebounds, and five assists a game in his junior year.

Harris said the 6 foot - 3 inch Sessions needs to improve his shooting, but he still has the tools to make the team this fall.

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