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Sports

June 26, 2008

Pruitt gives Celtics a first-round bonus

Bill Burt

So this is what it's like to be the New England Patriots.

Most of the time draft day isn't so much a holiday as it is a relaxing vacation day. You pick last in the first round because of the previous season's success, and you go to draft day with a relaxing, content glow about you.

The record says the happy-go-lucky Boston Celtics have one first-round pick tonight, the 30th and last choice of the first round.

But upon further review, they have a bonus first round pick, who will probably be better than the guy they get tonight.

His name is Gabe Pruitt.

Sounds familiar, doesn't it? Yup. That's the guy the Celtics drafted 32nd overall last year out of USC.

That's the same guy who rode the pine in between a few trips to the National Basketball Development League's Utah Flash, the Celtics' minor league co-affiliate with the Utah Jazz.

Pruitt left USC after his junior season, hoping for the gold of the guaranteed first-round contract. Instead he got Celtics' green instead, and probably not as much "green" as he expected in salary.

Pruitt could have played this past season with freshman phenom O.J. Mayo at USC, and likely improved his draft status considerably.

If you were lucky to attend Celtics playoff games at the TD Banknorth Garden the last two months, you saw Pruitt working out, and I mean working out, with ex-Celtic Dana Barros for an hour each time.

Because of the Celtics' success, Pruitt was a footnote. He was last on the depth chart, behind even Scot Pollard when Pollard was healthy.

The difference between Pruitt and Pollard is that Pruitt's best days are ahead of him.

Pruitt, who was academically ineligible for the first 11 games of his final season at SC, averaged 18.8 points per game in two stints with the Flash.

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