Paolo Banchero never saw himself being the No. 1 overall pick in the NBA Draft.
But Banchero will always be recalled as the first player picked in the 2022 festivities after the Orlando Magic selected the Duke forward first overall in the NBA Draft on Thursday night in New York.
A couple minutes prior to the start of the draft, Banchero’s agent, former NBA player Mike Miller, told him to be ready for anything.
That refrain suddenly had meaning to Banchero when the Magic turned in the pick.
“About 20 to 30 seconds before the commissioner (Adam Silver) went out to announce the pick, (Miller) looked at me and said, ‘Congratulations,'” Banchero said on ABC.
Gonzaga center Chet Holmgren went second overall to the Oklahoma City Thunder and Auburn forward Jabari Smith was taken third by the Houston Rockets.
The 6-foot-10 Banchero averaged 17.2 points and 7.8 rebounds per game in his one college season. He also contributed defensively with 41 steals and 36 blocked shots.
Banchero is the fourth Duke player to be the No. 1 overall pick. The others are Elton Brand (1999 by Bulls), Kyrie Irving (2011, Cavaliers) and Zion Williamson (2019, Pelicans).
“I can’t believe what just happened, honestly,” Banchero said. “I never would have thought this would happen. I wanted to be in the NBA, I didn’t know I would be (No. 1). This is unbelievable.”
This was the fourth time the Magic selected first overall in the NBA Draft. Orlando drafted Shaquille O’Neal in 1992, Chris Webber (traded to the Golden State Warriors) in 1993 and Dwight Howard in 2004.
The Magic went 22-60 last season, the second-worst record in the NBA. Orlando won the right to pick first in the draft lottery.
Holmgren is the highest draft pick produced by Gonzaga. The previous best was Adam Morrison, who went third overall in 2006 to the then-Charlotte Bobcats.
“It’s a mix of 1,000 emotions and yet I have zero words to explain it,” Holmgren said. “Everything I’ve looked forward to for a long time, OKC Thunder, let’s work, let’s work.”
Holmgren averaged 14.1 points and 9.9 rebounds and matched the school record of 117 blocks. Brandon Clarke, now with the Memphis Grizzlies, set the mark in the 2018-19 season.
Smith was billed by many draft experts as the probable No. 1 overall pick but didn’t seem the least bit dismayed about going third. He will have a chance to make an immediate impact with the Rockets.
“I can fit any NBA system with my shooting ability and my love for defense,” Smith said. “I can come right in and make an instant impact.”
Smith, who averaged 16.9 points and 7.4 rebounds for the Tigers, is the highest-drafted player in Auburn history. Chuck Person (1986, Pacers) and Chris Morris (1988, Nets) both went fourth.
The Sacramento Kings tabbed Iowa forward Keegan Murray with the fourth selection. The 6-foot-8 Murray is the first Iowa player to be chosen in the first round since Ricky Davis in 1998.
“They are getting a winner, first and foremost,” Murray said of going to the Kings. “I’m very versatile. I hit a late growth spurt so I have a lot of room to grow in my game and I’m excited to get to that.”
The Detroit Pistons took 6-foot-4 guard Jaden Ivey out of Purdue with the No. 5 pick.
Ivey grew up around women’s basketball, as he is the son of former WNBA player and current Notre Dame women’s basketball coach Niele Ivey.
“I worked day-in and day-out just to get this level,” said a highly emotional Jaden Ivey. “I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for (my mother). I’m just so happy.”
“This is his dream come true. For him to walk on this stage, I’m so joyful and I’m so happy for him,” Niele Ivey said.
The Indiana Pacers picked sixth and took Arizona guard Bennedict Mathurin, and the Portland Trail Blazers chose Kentucky guard Shaedon Sharpe with the seventh pick.
Mathurin was Pac-12 Player of the Year, while Sharpe is a bit of a mystery since he was a highly-acclaimed recruit who practiced with Kentucky last season but decided not to play in games.
“I think I still should be a mystery because you haven’t seen me for a year,” Sharpe said. “But I can’t get wait to get started. It’s going to be a ride, for real.”
Australian guard Dyson Daniels, who played with G League Ignite last season, went eighth to the New Orleans Pelicans. Baylor forward Jeremy Sochan went ninth to the San Antonio Spurs, and Wisconsin guard Johnny Davis went 10th to the Wizards.
—Field Level Media