As basketball continues to grow in Canada, Canadians getting selected in the NBA Draft is starting to become a yearly tradition. This year, five Canadians will be entering into the league after finding a home on draft night.
The San Antonio Spurs bet on their development staff once again by selecting the youngest player in the NCAA this past season, Josh Primo (Alabama). The Mississauga native averaged 8.1 points, 3.4 rebounds per game while playing half the season as a 17-year-old. Primo elevated his draft stock with a strong showing at the NBA Draft Combine that showcased his shot-making ability.
Just one pick after, Montreal born and Dominican Republic raised, Chris Duarte (Oregon), went to the Indiana Pacers. At 24, Duarte is one of the oldest players in the draft this year and having won the NCAA Jerry West Shooting Guard of the Year Award puts him in company with guards like Canadian RJ Barrett, D’Angelo Russell and Buddy Hield.
The Toronto Raptors selected their first Canadian-born player ever, Rexdale’s Dalano Banton, (Nebraska) with the 47th overall pick in the draft. Sure to be a fan favourite, Banton mirrors some of what the Raptors are getting from their fourth overall pick Scottie Barnes. A rangy six-foot-nine guard who will need to work on his shooting while with the Raptors 905 but brings a distinct versatility and defensive presence to the Raptors.
Banton was responsible for just the second triple-double in Huskers history when he had 13 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists in Nebraska’s 110-64 win over Doane.
Another Rexdale product and star of Sportsnet’s NBA Draft Ready feature (Hoop Dreams & On Point Basketball produced), Eugene Omoruyi went undrafted, but quickly found a home with the Dallas Mavericks who didn’t have a pick in this year’s draft. Omoruyi told On Point Basketball’s Drew Ebanks that while he wanted to get drafted, it wasn’t the end of his journey.
“Going through this process is going to be great, just coming out and competing at the highest level for a team I really like in Dallas, I’m going to have fun doing it and I’m going to give it my all, just like I promised,” said Omoruyi.
While at Oregon, Omoruyi averaged 17 points per game during his senior year, including a season-high 31-point performance against Missouri. He’ll be joining a Mavericks team looking to retool their offence under new head coach Jason Kidd and Omouyi gives them a physical body with a shooting touch in the frontcourt.
Brampton’s AJ Lawson (South Carolina) will be joining the Miami Heat after going undrafted, and the Gamecocks guard told the Heat they would not regret giving him an opportunity on Twitter. South Carolina head coach Frank Martin recently said he sees Lawson as a 10 to 12-year pro while praising his work ethic and intelligence before the draft.
On paper, Lawson is the perfect fit for the culture Miami has been cultivating for the last five years. With the Heat’s salary cap being mostly taken up after the Kyle Lowry sign and trade, and Kendrick Nunn moving to the Los Angeles Lakers, Lawson will have a chance to immediately find a spot in the rotation with an impressive showing at NBA Summer League and in the preseason.
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