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Magic: Vaughn-ted pick

Even if he were available so late in the first round of Wednesday's NBA draft, the Magic wasn't convinced Memphis power forward David Vaughn should be its pick.

So, the team asked him to fly back to Orlando Wednesday morning and work out for a second time _ just as it did in 1993 with another Memphis player, Anfernee Hardaway.

Same result.

Vaughn was still on the board at No. 25, and the Magic wasted little time taking him, figuring it might have filled its biggest need _ a quality interior defender to backup Horace Grant and, on a limited basis, All-Star center Shaquille O'Neal.

The Magic was vulnerable at both spots. Veteran Jeff Turner _ a solid perimeter shooter but not a rebounder or shot-blocker _ was the best reserve power forward. And assistant coach Tree Rollins, who just turned 40, was the sole backup center much of the season.

"Any time you get a guy that you think can potentially play more than one position for you, I think you helped yourself," Magic coach Brian Hill said.

The 6-foot-10, 240-pound Vaughn, who finished 12th on Memphis' all-time scoring list with 1,305 points, second in blocked shots with 235 and fourth in rebounds with 903, said he couldn't have picked a better spot.

"Orlando was a great situation for me," he said. "I didn't want to play anywhere else. I know Horace and Shaq need some help, with them playing a lot of minutes. I think I'm the guy that can come in and work with Horace and develop into a player that can really help the Magic."

Of course, all the teams were looking for help in the draft, considered one of the deepest in league history thanks to an influx of underclassmen.

One of those youngsters, Maryland sophomore power forward Joe Smith, the consensus player of the year last season, was the first pick overall by Golden State.

As the draft unfolded, the Magic braintrust suddenly saw a number of players it never figured would be available drift its way, including Arizona State power forward Mario Bennett and Illinois-Chicago sharp-shooting forward Sherell Ford.

With the exception of O'Neal, the first pick overall of the 1992 draft, Orlando had never taken a player in the first round it didn't interview and work out in Orlando. It might have broken with that tradition had it not been for Vaughn's second workout.

"We wanted to actually mirror a workout that Jason Caffey had a little closer," John Gabriel, the Magic's vice president of basketball operations, said.

Caffey, a power forward from Alabama who was taken by Chicago with the 20th pick, was in Orlando on Tuesday afternoon and went through drills with Rollins and Brooks Thompson. In Vaughn's first workout June 22, Turner, who was the best reserve power forward the past two seasons despite playing more like a small forward, was the lone Magic player there.

"Caffey worked out well, and we wanted David to come in and have the same opportunity that Caffey had," Gabriel said. "It's also important to me that our head coach, Brian Hill, and the rest of the staff, have a certain comfort level, and when time permits, we try to take advantage of that."

The Magic asked Hardaway to come back the day before the draft, and he dazzled the staff during full-court scrimmages with his ball-handling and passing _ elements that didn't jump out in simple shooting drills. That convinced the Magic to consummate a blockbuster deal that sent No. 1 pick Chris Webber to Golden State for Hardaway and three future No. 1s.

"The first workout I had, I really didn't show the coaches and the staff what I really could do," Vaughn said. But during Wednesday's outing against Rollins and Grant, "I just tried to do what I could do _ block shots, play defense, work hard around the basket and take the ball to the basket."

"That helped us quite a bit," Gabriel said.

Gabriel was a Vaughn backer from the start, however, saying that he was one of the best freshmen in the nation when he and Hardaway led Memphis to the NCAA final eight. But Vaughn suffered a season-ending knee injury in the first game of his sophomore season, came back and played well in 1993-94 and then had a stress fracture in his left foot this past season.

"David had an incredible rookie year at Memphis and then was hampered by some injuries that slowed his progress," Gabriel said. "I think right now he's one the track upwards, where he's starting to bounce back 100 percent. All of those factors lent us our good fortune at 25."

Magic draft history

Year Player School Rd. Pick

1989 Nick Anderson Illinois 1 11

Michael Ansley Alabama 2 37

1990 Dennis Scott Ga. Tech 1 4

1991 Brian Williams Arizona 1 10

Stanley Roberts LSU 1 23

Chris Corchiani N.C. State 2 36

1992 Shaquille O'Neal LSU 1 1

1993 Chris Webber + Michigan 1 1

Geert Hammink LSU 1 26

1994 Brooks Thompson Okla. State 1 27

Rodney Dent Kentucky 2 31

+ Webber was dealt on draft day to Golden State for Anfernee Hardaway, picked third overall, and three future No. 1 draft picks (1996, 1998, 2000).