Draft night was a memorable occasion for freshman big men from Duke and their senior leader Grayson Allen. But there were few celebrations among the other underclassmen from state schools with professional basketball aspirations and a pair of national champions from North Carolina.
Marvin Bagley III and his Blue Devils teammate Wendell Carter Jr. were among the first seven players taken in Thursday’s NBA Draft, with Bagley going second overall to the Sacramento Kings and Carter going to the Chicago Bulls at No. 7.
Allen became the third Duke player to go in the first round when he was selected by the Utah Jazz with the 21st pick.
Freshman shooting guard Gary Trent Jr. was the fourth Blue Devil to have his name called when he was tabbed by the Kings in the second round and then traded to the Portland Trailblazers.
But the news wasn’t as good for their now former point guard Trevon Duval, who went undrafted and will be forced to cast his lot as a free agent. Others among those giving up their remaining college eligibility only to be shut out in both rounds by all 30 NBA teams Thursday were Wake Forest teammates Doral Moore and Bryant Crawford.
UNC seniors Theo Pinson and Joel Berry were also not selected.
While they will all attempt to make NBA rosters the hard way, Bagley is basking in the limelight of being the second player chosen.
The 2018 ACC Rookie and Player of the Year said he’s excited to be joining a Kings team that just moved into a new arena and features a young roster that includes another former ACC Player of the Year — UNC’s Justin Jackson — and another one-and-done Blue Devil in Harry Giles.
At the same time, though, he added that he’s a little disappointed and even more motivated that he didn’t go first overall. That honor went to his former high school teammate, Arizona’s Deandre Ayton, who was chosen No. 1 by the Phoenix Suns.
“When I said I have a lifelong chip, I definitely meant that and I’m rolling with that,” Bagley said in a post-draft interview. “I can’t wait to get to work. That’s all I’m going to say, man. I can’t wait to get started and grow as a player.”
Carter, who like Bagley figures to fit well into the NBA style because of his ability to play both inside and outside at 6-foot-10, said he’s already grown a lot because of one season of guidance from Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski.
“One memo he lived by was living in the moment, not worrying about the future or the past but just living in the moment, allowing the moment to determine what’s going to happen in the future,” Carter said. “That’s something I live by on and off the court. While I was out there, waiting for my name to get called, I was living in the moment, not worrying about when I’m going to get my name called.”
Now that he’s a Bull, Carter said he’s looking forward to becoming part of a dominant frontcourt tandem with the team’s other young star, Lauri Markkanen, just as he did at Duke with Bagley.
“We’re going to be unstoppable,” Carter said of Markkanen. “(He’s) someone I can learn from, a great young player, someone I can learn from on and off the court. And with my work ethic as I come in, I’m going to do all I have to do to help my team win. So I think we’ll definitely complement one another on both ends of the court.”
Allen is just as anxious to start building that kind of chemistry with his new teammates in Utah. Apparently, at least one of them is just as fired up about having the former Duke star on his side after having played against him in college.
Among those on hand in Brooklyn to greet Allen as his selection was announced Thursday was the Jazz’s leading scorer and Louisville alumnus Donovan Mitchell.
“It’s awesome to get his support, because I obviously haven’t met many guys on the Utah Jazz,” Allen said. “When their leading scorer and really the guy who had the ball in his hands the most from last year comes and congratulates you and welcomes you right when you put the hat on, it feels good. I already feel welcomed in Utah.”
Other players with state ties to get drafted included Boston College shooting guard and Raleigh native Jerome Robinson, who went 13th overall to the Los Angeles Clippers, and fellow Broughton High School product Devonte Graham of Kansas, the second-round pick of the Atlanta Hawks who was then traded to the Charlotte Hornets.
Charlotte used the 11th overall pick to select Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, then flipped him to the Clippers for Michigan State’s Miles Bridges, the player chosen at No. 12, along with second-round picks in 2020 and 2021.
Graham and small forward Arnoldas Kulboka were the only other players to stick with the Hornets after a second round of drafting and dealing. Charlotte took the Lithuanian with the 55th overall pick.
As for the players that went undrafted, UNC’s Pinson stands the best chance of making a team after signing a two-way contract with the Brooklyn Nets. The deal will allow the versatile 6-foot-6 guard to move back and forth between the Nets and their G League affiliate.
Pinson’s Tar Heel teammate Berry has signed a free agent contract with the Lakers and will attempt to earn a spot in their training camp with his play during the NBA’s summer league. Moore and Crawford, meanwhile, have yet to sign free agent deals.