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Tony Wroten Jr. is a draft choice with pedigree

  • Written by Kelley Evans
  • Published in Sports

newGriz-Tony Wroten JrThere's a new guy in town and hopefully he is the end of season after season of guard trafficking by the Memphis Grizzlies.

Less than a full 24 hours after 19-year-old combo guard Tony Wroten Jr. was selected as the No. 25 overall pick in the first round of the 2012 NBA draft (June 28), Wroten, who played one year at the University of Washington, was in Memphis being introduced to applause.

"He's from a quite accomplished athletic family," Grizzlies General Manager and Vice President of Basketball Operations Chris Wallace said, referring to Wroten's parents who were seated front row with his two sisters.

Wroten's father is a former NFL player for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and his mother was a track star.

"It's a blessing," said Wroten Jr. of his family. "I have a good family and an athletic bloodline. Coming up I was stuck in sports. It just helped me become a better person and a better player."

Wallace said choosing Wroten was a collective decision-making process.

"My vision in him is someone who can play both spots in the back court and make more plays off the dribble," said Wallace.

In Wroten, Wallace sees an excellent passer that the Grizz will look to be a versatile defender, provide some energy and a jolt of athleticism.

"You need a deep line of guards who are very athletic and versatile and he adds to those traits that we need on this team. In the workout he was terrific defensively and showed remarkable athleticism."

Wroten is no stranger to Memphis and was eager to be a part of the Grizzlies.

"In all my time in the NBA I've never had a player that campaigned to get picked by a team like he did," Wallace said.

NBA All Star Brandon Roy was among the NBA players who called Wallace lobbying on Wroten's behalf. Roy, who has advised Wroten on playing in the NBA, attended the same high school as his protégé.

"I know that I'll be able to help the team in any way I can," Wroten said. "They're a playoff team. They're already a good team."

Wroten spent time in Memphis for his seventh grade AAU nationals. It was his first time having "down-south" barbecue and he plans on having lots more now that he is part of the Memphis community.

"I definitely don't remember it being this hot," Wroten said of the day's 102-degree temperature.

He'll be joining individuals with whom he has relationships.

"Growing up AAU, I became real cool with (Grizzlies guard) Josh Selby playing in AAU games and Quincy Poindexter, who went to the University of Washington," Wroten said. "I have a couple of bonds with a couple of players."

He'll make his debut as a member of the Griz next week in Las Vegas at the NBA Summer League, which is scheduled to start on July 13.

In his lone season at the University of Washington, Wroten (6-6, 203) became the first freshman in school history to earn First Team All-Conference honors, ranking fifth in the Pac-12 in scoring (16.0 points), eighth in assists (3.7) and second in steals (1.9) in 35 games.

Wroten set numerous Husky freshman records, including scoring average, most points (559), assists (130) and steals (66), while winning Pac-12 Freshman of the Year. He also joined Detlef Schrempf (1984-85) as the second player in school history to compile at least 500 points, 150 rebounds and 100 assists in a single season.

The Seattle native led the Huskies with 12 games of 20-or-more points, including a UW freshman-record 29 points on March 8 against Oregon State in the Pac-12 Tournament. He tallied 22 points against Oregon on March 20 in the NIT Quarterfinals.

The left-hander was a member of the 2010 USA U-17 World Championship Team that posted a perfect 8-0 record and captured the gold medal while attending Garfield High School.

Wroten's mother pictured the future this way: "He's really surrounded by a lot of veteran players, which I like and I know that they are going to mold him into a great NBA player,"

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