Mason goes to Seattle, Najera to Mavs

Thursday, June 29th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- Desmond Mason and Eduardo Najera had no complaints about the way the National Basketball Association draft unfolded.

Mason, a former Oklahoma State star, went to the Seattle SuperSonics as the 17th pick in the first round Wednesday night. Najera, as expected, went in the second round and, as he hoped, wound up with the Dallas Mavericks.

"I'm really, really happy," said Najera, an All-Big 12 player at Oklahoma. "I like the town. I like their coaching staff. I can't wait to get down there."

Najera visited Dallas last weekend and expressed his desire to play in there because of its proximity to Norman and his native Chihauhua, Mexico. The Houston Rockets drafted him with the 38th pick, then traded his rights to the Mavs. The trade came as no surprise to Najera, who watched the draft at his girlfriend's house in Norman.

"They told me all along what was going to happen," Najera said. "The owner (Mark Cuban) called and said, 'We might not pick you at 31, but don't get scared. We're going to work real hard to get you.' And they did."

Najera was a favorite of Cuban because of his hustle. Coach Don Nelson, who recently signed an extension to remain in Dallas 11more years, joked that he would have been in trouble with his boss had someone else taken the Sooner.

The 6-foot-8 Najera averaged 18.8 points and 9.5 rebounds last season as Oklahoma went 27-7. He played power forward in college but will have to move to the small forward spot in the pros.

The Super Sonics made Mason the 17th player chosen. The 6-foot-5Mason played forward in college but may play guard in the NBA. He averaged 18 points and 6.6 rebounds per game last season.

"I didn't have a good idea of where I was going to go, but I'm looking forward to this opportunity," Mason said.

His biggest asset is his athleticism -- he can run, jump and defend. He improved as a perimeter shooter during each of four years at Oklahoma State, shooting 50 percent from the field and 43% from 3-point range as a senior.

"We think he was the best perimeter player in the country this year, and his offense is outstanding, too," team president and general manager Wally Walker said. "We think he's improved every year, and we couldn't be happier."

He averaged 15.4 points as a junior, 14.6 as a sophomore and 4.5 as a freshman.

"After my sophomore and junior years, I did not feel I was ready for the NBA," he said. "I wasn't ready at all."

Mason worked out for 14 NBA teams and said he liked what he saw of Seattle when he was here to work out for the Sonics. Mason said he feels he's going to have a productive NBA career because of his attitude.

"I hustle all the time," he said. "I like getting up and down the floor, filling the wings. I've gotten better in my four years at Oklahoma State. I expect to get better with the Sonics."

Syracuse forward Etan Thomas, who played at Booker T. Washington High School in Tulsa, went to the Mavericks as the 12th pick in the first round. Thomas was one of the best shot-blocking forwards in the country.

Tulsa swingman Eric Coley and his teammate, center Brandon Kurtz, were not drafted.