Surprised Clippers Jump at the Chance to Draft Waves' Polee

Times Staff Writer

Dwayne Polee, Pepperdine University's star guard, was driving to his mother's house when the radio announcer began talking about the National Basketball Assn.'s college draft.

"Turn that back," Polee yelled to friend Anthony Andrew who had changed the station to listen to music while he drove.

Andrew did and Polee learned that he was the first draft pick of the Los Angeles Clippers and the 54th selection overall.

"It was shocking," said Polee, who had patiently watched the televised portion of the draft without seeing his name called. "I really had no idea when I'd get picked. I was just going to wait and see."

In this case he had to wait and listen.

Then the high-fives, restricted only by the car roof, began.

The Clippers, without a draft choice until the third round, slapped a few high-fives themselves when Polee was still available.

"We thought he'd go earlier," said Don Chaney, the second-year coach of the Clippers. "When he was still there, we jumped on him."

And Polee was pleased.

"It's really great to stay here in L. A. and be able to play in front of my family and friends," Polee said. "I just can't believe it."

But Polee, a United Press International honorable mention All-American this year, should believe it.

The 6-foot-5, 190-pounder prepped at Manual Arts and as a senior in 1981 led his team to the City championship, averaging 32 points, 9 rebounds and 7 assists a game en route to earning Los Angeles-area player of the year honors.

He then attended Nevada-Las Vegas, appearing in 27 games and averaging about eight points an outing. He transferred to Pepperdine in 1982 and, after sitting out that season in accordance with National Collegiate Atheltic Assn. regulations, was an immediate standout in the West Coast Athletic Conference.

Waves' 9th Best Scorer

Polee, ninth leading scorer in Pepperdine history (1,272 points), was named the WCAC's most valuable player in each of the last two seasons. He averaged 15.7 points and 4.8 assists a game as a junior and 15.7 points and 4.2 assists last season.

With Polee in the lineup, the Waves rolled to a three-year record of 64-27, including a 23-9 mark in the 1984-85 season and 25-5 last year, two conference titles and two trips to the NCAA tournament.

Despite his offensive accomplishments, Polee's forte is defense. In his three years at the Malibu campus, he stymied some of the nation's best scorers, including 1984 Olympian Leon Wood (Cal State Fullerton, now with the Washington Bullets) and John Stockton (Gonzaga, now with the Utah Jazz).

"The Clippers play good, hard defense and that's the way I like to play," Polee said. "I think that's why I'll fit in well with them."

Chaney, a defensive specialist as a player, said he just likes Polee as a player, not necessarily as a young Don Chaney.

Brick in Foundation

"He plays hard and he's an active player," Chaney said. "He's not a great scorer, but he can score in this league. I think he has an excellent opportunity to make our team."

Chaney said Polee might just be one of the bricks in a new Clipper foundation, noting that veteran guards Derek Smith, Darnell Valentine and Franklin Edwards are free agents.

"When you come off a losing season like we did, you can't just sit back," he said. "You have to take the initiative and build a solid foundation. And we are building for the future."

It's a safe bet that Polee won't have to stay tuned to his favorite radio station to keep up on his and the Clippers' future.

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