Originally created 06/29/02

Dickau looks forward to leading Hawks to playoffs

ATLANTA -- Dan Dickau's first order of business with the Atlanta Hawks was getting a uniform number.

He asked for 21, his number at Gonzaga. Try again, the Hawks said, reminding Dickau that Dominique Wilkins' old number is now retired and hangs from the rafters at Philips Arena.

"I forgot that was Dominique's number," Dickau said Friday, sounding a bit embarrassed.

The problem was quickly corrected. Dickau will go back to 12, his number in high school. He was forced to give it up when he got to Gonzaga because it had once belonged to John Stockton.

"It's not officially retired yet," Dickau said. "But you're not going to get that number at Gonzaga."

Now that he's wearing Stockton's number again, Dickau hopes to show similar skills on the court. The Hawks certainly wasted no time making some pretty heady comparisons as they introduced their newest player during a news conference at Philips Arena.

Stockton's name came up. So did former Georgia Tech and NBA star Mark Price.

"Those are two pretty good players to be compared to," Dickau said. "It's a huge compliment. All I can do is work hard, be myself and things will work out. As soon as the game starts, that will be the last thing on my mind."

While it may be a little unfair to compare a rookie with two of the league's greatest guards, Dickau certainly has plenty of confidence.

"I think I'll be extremely successful in this league," he said. "I know I've got the work ethic that will take me places. I look forward to seeing how far I can take this team."

The Hawks, who have missed the playoffs three years in a row, are counting on Dickau to help them end that streak and save some money. The team already has promised a $125 refund to season ticket holders should it fail to make the postseason again.

Atlanta didn't have a first-round pick in Wednesday's draft, but general manager Pete Babcock had his eye on Dickau all along. When the 6-foot guard slipped all the way to the end of the first round, the Hawks worked out a deal with Sacramento to get him.

"We were looking to add talent to the team, along with character, competitive toughness and a great will to win," Babcock said. "Dan exemplifies all of that."

The GM said he's already gotten a call from former Hawks guard Craig Ehlo, who played with Price in Cleveland.

"Craig told me that Dan is stronger than Mark Price, but has all the same intangibles - the drive, the competitive will to win - along with the talent," Babcock said.

Dickau, who averaged 21 points and 4.7 assists at Gonzaga, was the first Associated Press first team All-American in school history. Not even Stockton received that honor.

But Dickau's height probably caused him to slip to the 28th pick, and it certainly will prevent the Hawks from teaming him up on a regular basis with another height-challenged guard, Jason Terry.

"If Dan was 6-5, he probably would have gone in the top five," Babcock said.

The 6-2 Terry was Atlanta's second-leading scorer at 19.3 points per game, even after moving to point guard for the second half of the season. He probably will stay there next season, though the Hawks plan on teaming him with Dickau for short stints when the team needs a burst of offense.

"The main thing is we need shooters on the floor in clutch situations," said Terry, who attended the news conference. "When we need a big shot, he should be on the floor."

Terry played against Dickau in college and worked out with him during the summer. They exchanged phone numbers after the news conference and promised to stay in touch.

"They know each other and have a lot of respect for each other," coach Lon Kruger said. "I think they will complement each other well."

Dickau, who plans to move to Atlanta after getting married in August, admitted he was disappointed that his name wasn't called earlier in the first round.

"It was tough in a way," he said. "I felt I had proven a lot of things over the last two years. I thought I had proven a lot of things during my workouts that people wanted to see. I heard a lot of scenarios and none of them worked out.

"But God works in mysterious ways. I think it was destined for me to be in Atlanta. This is an organization that really wants me. I feel grateful to be here."


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