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June 28, 2012
The incredible story of Bernard James began a new chapter on Thursday night.
The former Florida State big man was selected 33rd overall in the second round of the NBA Draft by the Cleveland Cavaliers, but was traded to the Dallas Mavericks.
James, the ninth Seminole to be drafted since 2004, was on hand for the draft in Newark, N.J. Once the former Air Force vet was selected the crowd broke out in a USA-USA-USA chant in ode to the man referred to as 'Sarge' by his teammates at FSU.
Reporters in Newark asked James about the experience of being at the draft after his trade to Dallas became official.
"I'm not the type of guy to have an ego or anything. I appreciate the opportunity," said James, whose mother pushed him to attend the draft. "I'm going to do my best to help make Dallas proud. Green room or not it doesn't matter to me whether it was the first round or second round, you're going to have to prove yourself."
Despite his age (James turned 27 this season) the 6-foot-10, 240-pound forward feels he is just as valuable as the 22 and 23-year old prospects in the draft. Since James did not play basketball in high school he made sure that teams knew even though he was at least five years older than most players in the draft, he has similar, if not less, mileage on his body.
"Just the fact that teams don't realize I haven't been playing basketball that long, in fact I've been playing a lot less years than most of the guys in the draft," James told ESPN during the draft's telecast. "My body is still fresh, knees are good and everything, and the fact that I'm 27 and I've had a career before, I've been a professional and I'm going to come work everyday and make the best of this opportunity."
The Savannah, Ga. native arrived at FSU in 2011 after two seasons at Tallahassee Community College following his career in the Air Force. He immediately helped elevate the program to new heights as the team reached the Sweet 16 during his junior season and followed up with a an ACC Championship in 2012.
During his senior season James averaged 10.8 points and 8.1 rebounds per game. In just 69 games he blocked 164 shots, good for the third most in school history.
"We could not be prouder of Bernard James and what he has accomplished," said FSU head coach Leonard Hamilton. "He has worked so hard to get where he is today and we feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to coach him here at Florida State. Bernard is an outstanding person and is a perfect example of what perseverance and hard work can do for you. He has already represented his country and his family extremely well and we know he will represent Florida State well as he moves onto the NBA."