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Nominally, the Washington Wizards called the media to Union Station on Saturday morning to introduce their 2024 draft class. But as general manager Will Dawkins sat alongside his three first-round picks, none of whom are older than 20, he was also there to articulate a vision for the franchise coming off a franchise-worst 15-67 season.

The Wizards last won a playoff series in 2017. Since then, they’ve struggled to find direction or identity, and have posted a losing record over the past six seasons. But with Alex Sarr, Carlton “Bub” Carrington and Kyshawn George on the team, there’s no ambiguity: the youth movement has arrived and the franchise is poised for the future.

“We went into the draft Wednesday night and we had a plan,” Dawkins said. “We were aligned from top to bottom. We were strategic, we were aggressive and we made sure we accomplished our goals. With these three young men to my left, we feel like we’re adding a few more building blocks to the basic framework we talked about at the end of the season.”

The Wizards have assembled this draft class from different parts of the world. Sarr, the No. 2 overall pick, grew up in France and most recently played in Australia for the Perth Wildcats of the National Basketball League. Carrington, whom the Wizards acquired with the No. 14 pick in the trade that sent Deni Avdija to the Portland Trail Blazers, was born and raised in Baltimore and played his only college season in Pittsburgh. George, who was taken with the No. 24 pick via another trade on draft night, grew up in Switzerland, later lived in France and played college in Miami.

But they share traits that the Wizards prioritize. In the second straight draft under Dawkins and Monumental Basketball president Michael Winger, the Wizards looked for youth, athleticism, potential at the two-way position and length. Similar to 6-foot-8 forward Bilal Coulibaly, whom Washington drafted in the first round last year, Carrington (6-foot-4), George (6-foot-6) and Sarr (6-foot-7) bring defensive potential and versatility.

On Saturday, the newest Wizards discussed another trait they share: the patience to endure the frustration and initial pains of a rebuild.

“We look at this as a challenge. It’s something we want to tackle, something we know we can be successful at,” Carrington said. “And we just have to work hard every day to make that happen.”

Carrington and George met in the ACC last season, but as draft class members, they got to know each other and developed chemistry. In the days following their selection Wednesday night, they bonded over dinners, flights, workouts and a sightseeing tour of DC.

“Not every team has three first-round picks and I just think it’s cool to be around these guys who enjoy the game, are very positive and are easy-going people,” George said. “We’re all in the same boat and it’s very exciting to start this rebuild as a young group and with a young core.”

There were also opportunities to connect with fans, whom Dawkins thanked Saturday for “first of all understanding where we are on this journey and secondly really rooting for these guys.” On Wednesday night, Sarr appeared via hologram at the team’s draft party at Capital One Arena, where thousands of fans filled the lower seat and showed their excitement for the direction of the franchise.

“All three of us have a certain amount of excitement around this draft,” Sarr said. “We can feel it. When we go to dinner, the fans want to talk to us and get to know us. It’s always a nice feeling to see how committed they are to the team.”

After Saturday’s unveiling ceremony culminated in pomp and circumstance, with each player posing for photos in their new jerseys, the focus turned to basketball. The first opportunity to see the newcomers on the court could come as early as July 12, when Washington begins its Summer League schedule against Atlanta. That matchup could feature the top two picks in the draft: Zaccharie Risacher and Sarr of the Hawks.

Behind the scenes, the focus will be on player development. Dawkins said Wednesday that the newcomers will receive a personalized development plan after arriving in DC. And he emphasized the role of coach Brian Keefe, who was given the full-time job this offseason after finishing last season as interim coach. Keefe got the job because of his ability to connect with his players and get the most out of them.

“They’re all high-character guys who want to work and get better,” Keefe said of this draft class. “They obviously have skills and talent, but the most important thing for us is that these guys are really interested in getting better. So I’m just excited to work with them and get in the gym with them.”

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