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updated: 6/28/2012 11:54 PM

Bulls add a champion in Teague

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  • Bull draft pick Marquis Teague helped lead Kentucky to the national championship this year as a freshman point guard.

      Bull draft pick Marquis Teague helped lead Kentucky to the national championship this year as a freshman point guard.
    Associated Press

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The last time the Bulls picked a freshman point guard coached by John Calipari in college, it turned out pretty well.

So they repeated history Thursday night, choosing Kentucky freshman Marquis Teague with the 29th pick of the first round.

Teague figures to back up Derrick Rose, who played for Calipari at Memphis, when Rose recovers from knee surgery.

"We felt we got a real value with this pick," general manager Gar Forman said at the Berto Center. "He's a guy, as a freshman, who was the starting point guard playing with five other NBA players. He helped lead Kentucky to a national championship.

"What we feel he gives us is another guy who can break defenses down, can get into the paint and make plays for himself and others. All the background we did on him, everybody said he's very, very competitive. He's a winner."

Teague comes from a brilliant basketball family. His older brother Jeff plays for the Atlanta Hawks, while his father, Shawn, played for Rick Pitino at Boston University.

Five years separate the brothers, so they didn't grow up playing against each other in the driveway. Jeff compared the two to quarterbacks Peyton and Eli Manning, also born five years apart, in an SI.com article.

"He's his own player," coach Tom Thibodeau said of the Bulls' newest addition. "He's got different strengths than his brother, different than Derrick. He did a great job of running his team.

"There was a lot of pressure on that team all season long. They responded well, met every challenge. So that was a big plus."

While starting all 40 games for the national champs last season, Teague didn't produce overwhelming stats. He averaged 10.0 points, 4.8 assists, 2.7 turnovers and shot 41.2 percent from the field.

But Teague, an Indianapolis native, sparkled at the predraft camp, with a vertical leap of 40.5 inches and a three-quarter court sprint time of 3.16 seconds. In 2008, Rose jumped an even 40 inches and ran the sprint in 3.05 seconds.

The Bulls looked into trading one of their higher-salaried players, such as Luol Deng, for a lottery pick. But there was never any hint that such a trade actually would happen. Deng's contract (two years at $27 million) and injury status (pending wrist surgery) surely made him a tough sell.

"Were we actively shopping our players? Absolutely not," Forman said. "All 30 teams have conversations about everybody on their roster. We like the core of this team.

"It's our job to continue to try to put pieces around Derrick and some of our other core players and try to continue to trend up."

That core has been successful, but the Bulls have four high-salaried players and are quickly approaching the luxury-tax threshold, which could conceivably affect personnel decisions this summer.

"(Chairman) Jerry (Reinsdorf) has been very consistent with us that we want to try to put together the best basketball team that we can put together," Forman said.

"Our decisions up to this point and our decisions this summer will be basketball decisions. They won't be financial decisions. Are finances a part of it? It always is, but we're making basketball decisions."

•Illinois center Meyers Leonard must have had a good month of draft workouts because he went higher than expected, to Portland with the No. 11 pick.

Leonard has a solid NBA body at 7-feet-1 and 250 pounds. He also tested well athletically, with a vertical leap of 32.5 inches. But he's a work in progress, averaging 13.6 points and 8.2 rebounds during his first full-time duty in college basketball.

But the Blazers, who lost former No. 1 pick Greg Oden to injury, chose Leonard ahead two North Carolina big men, Tyler Zeller and John Henson.

The surprises started right away, or at least as soon as Kentucky's Anthony Davis became the fifth Chicago native chosen with the No. 1 pick of the draft.

Charlotte was thought to be interested in trading away the second selection. A trade didn't happen, and the Bobcats took Kentucky's Michael-Kidd Gilchrist instead of Kansas forward Thomas Robinson.

After Washington took Florida's Bradley Beal, Cleveland pulled off another surprise by taking Syracuse shooting guard Dion Waiters. He was thought to be rising, but not as high as No. 4.

mmcgraw@dailyherald.com

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