2ND, 14TH, 23RD
Duke’s Jabari Parker wound up going where he expected, T.J. Warren of Durham and N.C. State perhaps a little bit higher while former Blue Devil Rodney Hood waited the longest to learn his NBA fate.
Parker assured Duke of having first-round draft picks in four consecutive NBA drafts Thursday night when Milwaukee took him with the No. 2 overall pick of the NBA Draft at the Barclays Center.
Later, Warren became the first Durham native drafted in the first round in 21 years when Phoenix selected the former Wolfpack and Riverside High School star with the 14th overall pick.
Hood, who worked out for teams like Sacramento and Charlotte who owned top-10 picks, fell to a place far away yet he’ll have familiarity. With the No. 23 pick, Hood went to the Utah Jazz, who have a new head coach in former Duke guard and assistant coach Quin Snyder. Another former Duke player, Antonio Lang, is one of Snyder’s assistant coaches.
“It means a lot,” Hood said. “Duke is a real big family. Just because I decided to come to the NBA doesn’t mean I’m shamed from the family. Duke is a big brotherhood. I just thank Quin Snyder and the general manager and the people that made the decision on me. I really appreciate it.”
Milwaukee had shown strong pre-draft interest in Parker and they gladly grabbed him after Cleveland took Kansas freshman Andrew Wiggins with the No. 1 overall pick.
Parker, Duke’s leading scorer with 19.1 points per game last season while being named the Wayman Tisdale Award winner as national freshman of the year, wasn’t bitter about not going No. 1. In fact, he congratulated Wiggins backstage after they were both picked.
“You always want wish good on people,” Parker said. “We don’t take a good enough job embracing each other and uplifting each other. Andrew’s going to do a real good job being a Cavalier.”
Last season’s ACC player of the year, Warren is Durham’s first first-round NBA pick since Hillside High School and Wake Forest’s Rodney Rogers went to Denver with the No. 9 overall pick of the 1993 draft.
Warren said he was excited for all the people in Durham who helped him and supported him to get to this point in his basketball career.
“I know they are very excited,” Warren said. “They have been supporting me since I was a young kid. To have them supporting me at this level is going to be very exciting for me.”
One day before the draft, Warren said he felt best about his pre-draft workouts for Charlotte and Phoenix. The Suns obviously felt good about that work, too.
“I did a lot of great things there and it showed,” Warren said. “I’m very fortunate to be in this position.”
Warren averaged 12.1 points per game in a reserve role as a freshman at N.C. State in 2012-13 and considered entering the NBA Draft last summer.
When he didn’t, he went to work on his game aiming to improve his scoring touch. That move led him to scoring 24.9 points per game last season while making 58 percent of his field goals.
After leading the ACC in both categories, Warren was named ACC player of the year. N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried was among other coaches of top prospects, like Kansas’ Bill Self and Kentucky’s John Calipari, who were on hand at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn to be with their former players.
“It means a lot to me,” Warren said. “He’s been my coach the last two years and been through the ups and downs and it was great for him to be here with me.”
While Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said Parker was the best scorer in the draft, Gottfried unabashedly put that title on his former player Warren.
Hood, a sleek 6-8 small forward, made 42 percent of his 3-pointers for Duke last season and was one of Krzyzewski’s team captains. It his lone season playing for Duke, following his transfer from Mississippi State in 2012.
A small-town kid from Meridian, Miss., Hood had to compose himself as tears filled his eyes when talking about his NBA dream coming true.
““It’s unbelievable,” Hood said. “You think of the odds. Just a little kid playing at the Boys and Girls Club. I want to be like a big brother. Getting a chance to walk across the stage and give some people some hope from where I’m from, it means a lot.”