AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- Many people believe the Detroit Pistons will take Darko Milicic with the second pick in next month's NBA draft.
The 7-foot-1, 253-pounder from Yugoslavia seems to hope they
The 17-year-old Milicic, who listened to questions in English but used a translator to speak for him most of the time during a news conference Wednesday, responded with a smile when a reporter asked him if he thinks the Pistons will pick him.
The Pistons have been smiling since Memphis landed the second pick in the draft lottery last week and had to give it to the Pistons to finalize a 6-year-old trade for Otis Thorpe.
The Pistons realize how rare it is for a team to have such a high pick after finishing as the top seed in a conference. The stroke of luck has tempered their disappointment in being swept by New Jersey in the Eastern Conference finals.
While Detroit could draft Syracuse's Carmelo Anthony, most would be surprised if they didn't take Milicic.
The Pistons desperately need a power forward or center to score next to Ben Wallace; they believe Tayshaun Prince is their small forward of the future; and they have one of the best international scouts in basketball.
"It looks like he is the prefect fit,'' Detroit guard Chucky Atkins said. "We need all the guys we can get that play above the rim, and score.''
Milicic went through drills by himself at the Pistons' practice facility on Wednesday and the left-hander made 3-pointers from beyond the NBA's line with ease.
Joe Dumars, Detroit's president of basketball operations, liked what he saw.
"Darko had a very good workout and was impressive,'' Dumars said. "He has a chance to be a very good player in this league.''
Anthony is expected to work out for the Pistons in mid-June.
The only other visit Milicic plans is to Denver, which has the third pick.
Milicic will turn 18 on June 20 -- six days before the draft. After playing professionally in Yugoslavia with players in their mid-20s, he is excited about playing in the NBA.
"I'm ready for it,'' he said. "It's my dream.''
Milicic (pronounced MIL'-eh-CHIK') is making just his second trip to the United States, where he has been for a week.
"It is beautiful,'' he said.
He was amazed by the size of his hotel room Tuesday night and said his favorite foods are bread and pasta.
Semy Pajovic, his translator, has been impressed with Milicic since he met him more than two years ago.
"He is not a typical 17-year-old because he is very mature'' Pajovic said. "He doesn't like to go out and party. He likes to watch TV and listen to music with his girlfriend whenever he is not playing basketball.''
On Thursday, Detroit will work out three players the team is considering for the 25th pick: Boston College's Troy Bell, Louisville's Reece Gaines and Marcus Hatten from St. John's. The Pistons want to evaluate about 12 players for their second
first-round pick before deciding whether to keep it or give it to Sacramento.