NEW YORK -- In recent years Madison Square Garden has become a second home of sorts for Duke basketball, and the venue was once again welcoming to the Blue Devils in the 2006 NBA Draft.
Shelden Williams and J.J. Redick were drafted at No. 5 and No. 11, respectively, and both were on hand Wednesday night in the Theater at Madison Square Garden to celebrate the occasion.
The Atlanta Hawks, who for weeks have been rumored to covet Williams, selected the former Blue Devil big man with the No. 5 pick in the draft.
"It feels great," Williams said. "Atlanta is not too far from Duke. I feel truly blessed being in this situation."
Williams, who left Duke after graduating in May as the school's all time leader in rebounds and blocked shots, returned for his senior season even though he could have been a first-round selection after his junior year.
"One of the main things that brought me back was education," Williams said. "I wanted to come back and get my degree and finish what I started with the players I came in with, and I think it paid off well."
Duke's all-time leading scorer had to wait a little longer before hearing his name called, but Redick came off the board six picks later when the Orlando Magic took him at No. 11.
Redick won nearly all National Player of the Year awards during his senior season at Duke, but some scouts had questioned how well his game would translate to the NBA level. The 6-foot-4 guard then hurt his back early this month and was arrested for a DWI while back in Durham receiving treatment.
"It's a huge relief," Redick said. "No matter where I went it was still a dream come true.. The past few weeks have definitely been a tough time. Some of it I brought on myself and some of it was unfortunate."
Redick said his back had been feeling better the past two weeks, and he even offered to bend over and touch his toes for reporters to prove it.
In Orlando, Redick will join Duke great Grant Hill. Redick said he last talked to Hill in April when he was choosing an agent but that Hill would help him adjust to the NBA.
"That's a great resource," Redick said. "That's going to be a guy I lean on early in my career, especially considering we already have a relationship."
Former Duke forward Shane Battier was traded to the Houston Rockets for the No. 8 selection, Connecticut's Rudy Gay.
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