The New Orleans Hornets selected University of Kentucky forward Anthony Davis with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 National Basketball Association entry draft on Thursday.
"A great feeling, great experience. I've wanted this all my life, so it's finally here," said the 19-year-old. "To be drafted No. 1 overall means a lot to me."
The Charlotte Bobcats used the second pick to take another Kentucky forward, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.
"I didn't really care where I went. I was just surprised. I was just very surprised," Kidd-Gilchrist said of being taken No. 2.
It marked the first time in draft history that two players from the same school were taken with the top two picks. Davis and Kidd-Gilchrist had led the Kentucky Wildcats to a national title.
The Washington Wizards, meanwhile, took Florida guard Bradley Beal with the third pick.
In his lone season at Kentucky, Davis averaged 14.2 points, 10.4 rebounds and had a school-record 186 blocks.
The Hornets will need Davis' scoring. They finished with the worst record in the Western Conference last season, averaging 89.6 points, which was the second-lowest in the NBA behind the Bobcats.
The Hornets won the draft lottery last month despite having just a 13 percent chance at landing the first pick.
The only other time they had the top pick was in 1991 when they used it to select Larry Johnson.
Kidd-Gilchrist also played in just one season for Kentucky and averaged 11.9 points and 7.4 rebounds per game, with 39 steals and 37 blocked shots.
He joins a struggling team that finished with the worst winning percentage in NBA history after going 7-59. They have finished below .500 in seven of the last eight seasons.
Beal, who celebrated his 19th birthday on Thursday, averaged 14.8 points and 6.7 rebounds while starting all 37 games for Florida.
Dion Waiters was taken fourth by the Cleveland Cavaliers, while Sacramento rounded out the top five by taking power forward Thomas Robinson.