(UPDATED: 11 p.m.) As expected, general manager John Hammond used the Buck's first-round draft pick Thursday on a point guard. Somewhat surprisingly, that point guard was Brandon Jennings.
Jennings, a 6-foot-1 19-year-old from Compton, Calif., comes to the Bucks after spending the last year playing professionally with Lottomatica Virtus Roma of Serie A; the top Italian league.
Jennings was a prep standout at Oak Hill Academy in Virginia -– the same school attended by Carmelo Anthony and, briefly, Michael Beasley. During his senior season, Jennings averaged 35.5 points, 6.8 assists and 3.2 steals.
Naismith, Parade Magazine, EA Sports and Max Preps all named him National Player of the Year after he set a school record with 1,312 points. During the year, Jennings also broke the school record with 61 points in a game.
At the time, he had made an oral commitment to play at the University of Arizona, but opted instead to go to Europe because of problems, he says, obtaining his SAT scores. It was also a way to bypass an NBA rule that doesn't allow high schoolers to become draft-eligible until one year after their graduation.
Jennings has no regrets.
"I was just waiting for my SAT scores which I never have gotten back," he said in a conference call Thursday night. "I just had to make a decision to go overseas. I think it was the best decision I made so far. I think there experience I had there and everything I learned is just going to pay off in the end."
In 27 league games there, he averaged 5.5 points with 1.6 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.6 steals in 17 minutes per contest. Four times, Jennings scored in double digits including a 14-point outing against Fortitudo. Jennings also took part in 11 Eruoleague contests, averaging 7.6 points including a season-high 17 against Unicaha.
The numbers were a sharp contrast from his prep days, which Jennings attributes to a lack of playing time and playing out of his position.
"They had me all over the place," Jennings said. "I was playing the two and the three, so when I was out there, I wasn't comfortable and I was never in a rhythm. I was just taking shots as I could."
"That whole experience overseas helped my game mature. I learned the pick-and-roll game a lot. Off-the-court, maturing as a person. Things I'm going to have to work on when I come to the NBA, no hand-checking a lot. Overseas, you can just play physical; hold and grab and things like that. I have to get my defense back up."
In Milwaukee, he will compete for minutes at the point with Luke Ridnour. Ramon Sessions also played point guard last season, but is expected to leave as a restricted free agent.
Jennings knows that even though he's a top-ten pick, there's no guarantee that he'll start or even see significant playing time. He said he's looking forward to working with head coach Scott Skiles, who played the same position during his NBA career.
"He's one of the best point guards to play," Jennings said. "He led the league in assists. He was a really good point guard. I think I can learn a lot from him and I'm really excited to learn. I know you have to come in and earn your spot and it's up to me. If I want it, I'm gonna go work for it. If I work hard and prove I deserve it, then we'll see."
Jennings made quite the entrance at the league's draft night spectacle at New York's Madison Square Garden. Originally, his agent said he would not attend the event as he was unsure just where Jennings would be selected.
After the Bucks took him at No. 10, he and his family headed to the arena and was introduced on-stage by commissioner David Stern shortly after announcing that Phoenix selected Earl Clark at No. 14.
In the last few weeks, it became apparant that the Bucks would focus on using their first pick to select somebody to run the offense. On Monday, they worked out a number of potential selections, including Jennings.
After the Minnesota Timberwolves selected a pair of point guards back-to-back at Nos. 5 and 6, most expected the Bucks to go with Jennings or UCLA freshman Jrue Holiday.
Hammond said the team considered a number of point guards, but felt that Jennings would be the best fit for the Bucks.
"Most people said coming into this draft, if there were questions about the draft, there weren't questions about the point guards in this draft," Hammonds said. "I think we've got a special one."
Jennings is already familiar with Milwaukee. He was selected to participate in the 2008 McDonald's All-American game, which was played at the Bradley Center.
He admitted Thursday that he had some initial misconceptions about Milwaukee, but was able to get a little more exposure during a workout with the Bucks earlier this week.
"When I first got to Milwaukee, all I heard was all this bad stuff," he said. "(I heard) Milwaukee was really boring; it was terrible. I got to see the town a little bit when I came out there for the workout for those three days. Milwaukee is not a bad town. It's kind of laid back. A lot of fishing, a lot of water, a lot of boats and things like that."
Too bad Latrell Sprewell's boat, "Milwaukee's Best," was sold last year at auction after being repossessed.
Jennings will be formally introduced during a press conference Friday morning at the Bradley Center.
With their second-round choice (No. 41), the Bucks took a second guard, Kentucky's Jodie Meeks.
Best known for scoring 54 points against Bruce Pearl's Tennessee squad last year, the 6-foot-4 Meeks set a school record with 117 three-pointers and had the eighth-best scoring average (27.3 ppg) in Division I.
Skiles and Hammond were both somewhat surprised that Meeks dropped as low as he did, and both think the would-be senior is an excellent shooter that is also a strong defender.
Marquette trio silent: The vaunted Golden Eagles' group of Wes Matthews, Jerel McNeal or Dominique James were not among the 60 draft selections Thursday night. They could still end up on a summer league roster as free agents.