Damian Lillard hugged his family, then wiped his brow as he walked up the steps to meet NBA commissioner David Stern on center stage at Thursday's NBA draft in Newark, N.J.
The Oakland native and Weber State star saw his NBA dream realized when the Portland Trail Blazers selected the point guard with the No. 6 pick in the draft.
A few hours later, another Oakland product also had his named called when Jared Cunningham was taken No. 24 by the Cleveland Cavaliers. Cunningham, who went to San Leandro High and Oregon State, was part of a trade to the Dallas Mavericks with two other draft picks for North Carolina center Tyler Zeller.
The 6-foot-3, 189-pound Lillard was the first point guard off the board and believes he'll be a good fit with the Trail Blazers.
"I think I'll fit in well because of the players they have on the roster already," Lillard said in a conference call with reporters. "I think my abilities, my game, complements what they have."
Lillard knew his moment was approaching once the Sacramento Kings hit the clock at No. 5. When the Kings took Kansas forward Thomas Robinson, it was a lock that he was headed to Portland.
"I knew that was the highest I could've gone," Lillard said of Sacramento. "I wanted to just sit there and wait it out and see what happens."
Lillard is the first player from an Oakland high school drafted since Oakland Tech's Leon Powe went to the Boston Celtics in the second round in
Jay Bilas, an NBA analyst for ESPN, said during the draft broadcast that Lillard has "tremendous range on his shot. His range is essentially in the building." Bilas also complimented Lillard's defensive ability.
"I think he's got the ability to play defense in the NBA," Bilas said. "He's got good length (and) pretty decent size for a point guard."
Lillard was a third-team All-American as a junior at Weber State. The two-time Big Sky Conference Player of the Year was second in the nation in scoring at 24.5 points per game.
Cunningham was a first-team All-Pac-12 pick and averaged 17.9 points per game for the Beavers. A shooting guard in college, the 6-5, 188-pound Cunningham could develop into a point guard.
"He can certainly initiate offense," Bilas said. "He's a spectacular athlete. He's got a chance to be a really good individual defender. He does need to work on his shooting, but he's a better shooter than his percentages indicate because he had to take so many challenged shots for Oregon State."