HOUSTON — When Sam Dekker gets back home after his trip to New York for the NBA draft he might throw out some of the winter clothes he's had to wear for most of his life.
Dekker, who was born and spent his whole life in Wisconsin, is heading to sunny and snow-free Houston after the Rockets selected the Badgers forward with the 18th overall pick in the draft on Thursday night.
"I'm excited. It's going to be crazy to get rid of some of those coats in the winter," he said. "Not having to have those is going to be kind of nice and to be able to go outside whenever I want."
Of course, he's looking forward to joining the Rockets for many reasons other than the climate.
"I love to run the court, play above the rim, shoot from the outside and attack and put the defense on their heels and that's what the Houston Rockets love to do ... so I think I'll fit in really easily," he said.
The Rockets also added rugged Louisville forward Montrezl Harrell with the 32nd overall pick in the draft.
"We got two top, top, top level winners in college," general manager Daryl Morey said.
The 6-foot-9 Dekker averaged 12.1 points and 5 rebounds in a three-year career at Wisconsin where the team reached the NCAA Final Four twice, including the title game this season.
"He's skilled for his size," Houston assistant coach Chris Finch said. "He's actually pretty quick with a good first step and aggressive at attacking the rim. His shot sets up a lot of his drive opportunities. What I've liked is he's kind of fearless. Whether he goes in to attack the bucket or make a play for somebody else he's got an attack mentality and we love that here."
He's coming to a city where the biggest active sports star is also a Badger in Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt.
"Wisconsin's been moving South," Dekker said with a laugh. "Looks like both of Houston's main teams now have a Badger. So that's going to be pretty cool."
Dekker said Watt has come to some of his games and that they've met, but the two aren't close.
"I'm a big fan of his, so hopefully he can become a fan of mine," Dekker said.
His teammate Frank Kaminsky was the ninth pick in this year's draft by Charlotte, giving Wisconsin two picks in the first round for the first time in school history. They are the school's first picks in the opening round since Alando Tucker was taken by Phoenix at 29 in the 2007 draft.
Dekker averaged a career-high 13.9 points and 5.5 rebounds this season and was a second-team All-Big Ten selection in helping the team to a school-record 36 wins. He's a good outside shooter and made 142 3-pointers in his college career.
Finch said the Rockets have had their eye on Dekker all season. The coach said he's a similar type of player as Chandler Parsons, who now plays for the Mavericks.
"We like his shooting ability obviously," Finch said. "We like his toughness. We like the fact that he has a knack for putting the ball in the basket. He can put the ball on the deck a little bit. Certainly his size is a plus when you can get a guy his size to shoot the ball."
Dekker's best game in the tournament this season came in an 85-78 win over Arizona that sent Wisconsin to the Final Four. He made five 3-pointers in the second half of that game and finished with 27 points to propel the Badgers to the win.
He joins a Houston team that advanced to the Western Conference finals for the first time since 1997 this season before being eliminated by eventual champion Golden State.
The 6-foot-8 Harrell averaged 11.6 points and 6.9 rebounds in a three-year career at Louisville. This season he averaged 15.7 points and 9.2 rebounds — both career highs.
"Super high-energy big," Morey said. "Led the country in dunks the last two years, which is sort of nice."
He helped Louisville to the round of eight in this year's NCAA tournament. Harrell was projected by some to be selected much higher in the draft.
"It's tough to have to wait in the first round," Harrell said. "But everything happens for a reason. Being picked by the Rockets means ... (they) definitely saw something in me."