He was one of four high school seniors picked in the first round.
Brown, a 6-foot-11, 240-pound center from Glynn Academy in Brunswick, Ga., stood up and hugged his family before walking on stage Wednesday night, smiling broadly, and shaking the hand of commissioner David Stern.
Stern, who has proposed a minimum age of 20 for incoming NBA players, wore a smile of his own as he watched Brown become the youngest player ever to hear his name announced first at an NBA draft.
Six high school seniors made themselves eligible for this year's draft.
Brown originally planned to attend the University of Florida before changing his mind when he learned he might be chosen among the top five. As a high school senior, he averaged 20.1 points and 13.3 rebounds and was selected player of the year in the state of Georgia.
The Wizards considered trading the pick, but Jordan locked in on a player with enormous potential in a draft considered top heavy with big men.
"We were entertaining possibilities, but nothing could change our minds as to what he could do for the Washington Wizards," Jordan said.
Another high school senior went second overall as the Los Angeles Clippers selected 7-foot-1 center Tyson Chandler of Dominguez HS in Compton, Calif.
Chandler, 18, has been a starter on one of the nation's top high school teams since his freshman season.
The Atlanta Hawks chose third and selected the 7-foot Pau Gasol of F.C. Barcelona on behalf of the Vancouver Grizzlies as part of a trade agreement that will not be finalized until July 18.
In return for the third pick and two players Lorenzen Wright and Brevin Knight the Grizzlies have agreed to trade Shareef Abdur-Rahim to the Hawks.
Gasol's value rose dramatically in the days leading up to the draft. He averaged only 11.3 points and 5.2 rebounds last season for Barcelona, and he still has one year remaining on his Spanish League contract.
"It's the best day of my life. It all goes very fast. I'm very happy," Gasol said.
The Chicago Bulls used the fourth pick on another high school senior, Eddy Curry of Thornwood H.S. in South Holland, Ill.
Curry averaged 22 points, nine rebounds and six blocked shots for Thornwood, which went 31-1 last season. The 6-foot-11, 285-pound Curry was the MVP of the McDonald's All-America game.
"It's dream come true. I get to stay at home," Curry said.
With the eight pick, the Cleveland Cavaliers took DeSagana Diop of Oak Hill Academy.
The NBA draft consists of two rounds and 57 picks overall. The order of picks is determined partly by a lottery, in which the eight teams that did not make the playoffs draw for their order, and partly by how teams finished the season.
The world champion Los Angeles Lakers had no picks because they traded bth away to other teams.
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