On a record night for the ACC in the 2017 NBA Draft, the Big Four made a statement throughout the first 20 overall picks. Six of those 20 picks came from either Duke, North Carolina, NC State or Wake Forest as seven total players were picked form the Big Four in the first round.The night started with Jayson Tatum going No. 3 overall to the Boston Celtics behind only Markelle Fultz and Lonzo Ball. Tatum’s selection at No. 3 overall makes the fourth straight Blue Devil taken in the top three along with Brandon Ingram (No. 2, 2016), Jahlil Okafor (No. 3, 2015) and Jabari Parker (No. 2, 2014).Tatum was the first Blue Devil selected, but he was far from the last. Of the six in-state players selected in the top 20, three were from Duke with Luke Kennard going to the Detroit Pistons at No. 12 overall and Harry Giles was taken 20th by the Sacramento Kings.Thursday marked the fifth time since 1999 — when four Blue Devils were selected in the first round — that a trio of Duke players were taken. It marks the third time that three were taken in the first round since that point with 2015 being the only other year that it’s taken place.Outside of Duke, the lone player selected from the Big Four was Dennis Smith Jr., who was taken by the Dallas Mavericks at No. 9 overall. The freshman phenom became the highest NC State player taken in the draft since Tom Gugliotta in 1992 and the highest Wolfpack guard since 1977.After Kennard was taken at No. 12, the reigning ACC Player of the Year finally came off the board at No. 15 overall. Justin Jackson will join Giles and former UNC target De’Aaron Fox with the Kings after being traded by the Trail Blazers, becoming the first Tar Heel selected in the lottery since four players were taken in the top 17 in the 2012 NBA Draft.The next in-state player off the board was an interesting one with John Collins going to the Atlanta Hawks at No. 19 overall. Collins is viewed as a younger big man to help replace Atlanta native Dwight Howard, who the Hawks dealt to the Charlotte Hornets earlier in the week.Collins became the first Wake Forest player selected in the NBA draft since Al-Farouq Aminu in 2010. After putting together a stellar season that landed in on the All-ACC First Team, Collins can develop on a team that has 32-year-old Paul Millsap already entrenched at the power forward position.As for the final selection of the first round from N.C., Tony Bradley’s decision to leave after his freshman year paid off when he was taken No. 28 by the Lakers then traded to Utah. Though he was a sparsely-used role player for the Heels, Bradley landed in the first round to earn the all-important guaranteed money.The ACC may have set a record with 10 overall players selected in the top 30 picks, but with seven of them coming from the Big Four it’s clear N.C. is still the heart and soul of the conference.
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