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Pacers Sign Rookie Bender


The Indiana Pacers signed rookie forward Jonathan Bender to a multiyear contract Thursday.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but the NBA's collective bargaining agreement assigns a sum of nearly $7 million over the next three seasons to the player selected fifth in the June draft.

"I'm looking forward to doing whatever I can to help the Pacers. This is something I've dreamed about," Bender said.

Bender, 18, a high school star from Mississippi, was the Toronto Raptors' top draft pick. The Pacers acquired him in a draft-day trade that sent veteran power forward Antonio Davis to the Raptors.

The 6-foot-11, 200-pound Bender averaged 23.1 points in his senior year at Picayune High School. He broke Michael Jordan's record of 30 points in the 1999 McDonald's High School All-American Game with a 31-point effort.

"People are going to be surprised at the level of his play. He has an awful lot of work and growing up to do, but I think he has a chance to be a terrific NBA player," Pacers president Donnie Walsh said.

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