BYU star to wear Utah jersey?

*THURSDAY June 24, 2004*

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BYU star to wear Utah jersey?

BYU center Rafael Araujo hopes to extend his stay in Utah by being
drafted by the Jazz. (Rick Egan/Tribune file photo)

By Patrick Kinahan
The Salt Lake Tribune

A few days after touching down on U.S. soil for the first time,
Tadeu and Neuza Araujo flew from Los Angeles to New York.
If their son’s wishes come true, the Araujos’ whirlwind trip will
include Salt Lake City this week. Rafael Araujo would like to give his
parents a tour of Brigham Young’s campus, his home the last two years.
But sightseeing is not his primary motivation. Araujo wants to bring
his Brazilian family to Utah on Friday, the day the Jazz formally
introduce their NBA draft picks.
Araujo, BYU’s starting center the last two years, would love the
Jazz to draft him tonight. Even if it means sliding down a few spots, he
still prefers playing for Utah.
“That would be awesome,” Araujo said. “I played there for two years.
I love the community and the people.”
The only problem is, Araujo might not be available when the Jazz
draft at No. 14. They also have picks at 16 and 21.
The 14th pick is guaranteed a three-year contract at a total of
$4.47 million.
Since he began individual workouts for NBA teams, Araujo has seen
his stock soar. Projected as a late first-round pick in April, he could
be a lottery selection.
Diron Ohanian, Araujo’s agent, said most NBA teams have contacted
him in recent weeks. The pair has had to reject many requests for second
Araujo has spent the last several weeks flying around the country to
meet with various NBA teams. Ohanian expects his client to be drafted
between Nos. 8 and 16.
“Once the workouts started, all the teams [drafting] 10 and under
started pounding on us to get him,” Ohanian said. “Of course, he didn’t
go to every city. It’s too much.”
Ohanian said he didn’t expect the Portland Trail Blazers to draft
Araujo with the 13th pick. Jazz owner Larry Miller said last week his
team would like to take Araujo with the 14th pick.
But they may have to swing a deal to move up to get him.
“There are teams definitely ahead of them that have expressed
interest,” Ohanian said.
Between 16 and 18 teams have contacted BYU coach Steve Cleveland to
get information on Araujo. Each time, he has given a glowing
recommendation, noting that his former player has the skills to
contribute next season.
Starting his college career at Arizona Western, Araujo was the
Mountain West Conference’s co-player of the year as a senior. He
averaged 18.4 points, shooting 57 percent from the field, and 10.1
rebounds a game.
“Everybody has seen such sustained improvement over the last two
years,” Cleveland said. “I’ve never been around a young man in 25 years
of coaching that had the work ethic that he has.”
At 6-foot-11, 292 pounds, he combines size and strength. Few other
big men can match Araujo’s skill level and potential.
“Everybody has been impressed,” Cleveland said.
Since transferring to BYU two years ago, Araujo has not seen his
parents. Tadeu and Neuza will accompany their son and his wife and baby
daughter to New York for the draft.
“It’s really exciting for them,” Araujo said. “They can’t wait.
They’re really happy for me. They’ve seen all the hard work I’ve done
throughout my life.”
Joining guard Travis Hansen, Araujo will become the second BYU
player drafted in two years. The Atlanta Hawks took Hansen in the second
round last June.
Shawn Bradley was the last Cougar to get picked in the first round.
Barely off an LDS Church mission, he went to the Philadelphia 76ers as
the No. 2 pick in 1993.

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