LOS ANGELES -- Fresh off their 16th NBA championship a week earlier, the Los Angeles Lakers selected forward Devin Ebanks from West Virginia in the second round of Thursday's NBA draft with with No. 43 overall pick.
The 6-foot-9, 215-pound Ebanks played two seasons with the Mountaineers and had a career average of 11.2 points per game. He was named to the All-Big East Conference third team last season, and made the Big East All-Rookie and All-Tournament teams as a freshman.
During his first season, Ebanks grabbed 273 rebounds, the second most in school history. He has a reputation as a strong defender and possesses a decent mid-range game, but needs to improve his outside shooting. He made only 10 percent of his 3-point attempts last season.
The Lakers selected Derrick Caracter, a 6-9 forward from Texas El Paso, with the No. 58 overall selection.
"I'm so happy right now, you don't understand," Ebanks said in a conference call with reporters. "I get to play with the best player in the world, Kobe Bryant."
Ebanks also said he has no problem focusing on defense.
"That's what I do," he said. "I take defense very seriously and I take it personally."
For the Queens native, joining the Lakers also means a reunion with players he has known for years.
"Lamar Odom, my uncle grew up with him," Ebanks said. "He's from my neighborhood. Ron Artest [is] right there. I live two minutes away from Ron Artest and 10 minutes from Lamar, so I see those guys all the time. Having a chance to play with them is a great opportunity."
As a second-round pick, there's no guarantee Ebanks will make the final roster, much less see much time for a team looking to win its third consecutive championship. The value of being part of an elite team, however, wasn't lost on Ebanks.
"I have a whole bunch of stuff to learn about the NBA. And what better team for it to be than the Lakers?" Ebanks said. "I'm playing for the best team in the world right now. I'll go in there and try to learn from some veterans. Hopefully, my career will take off from there."