NBA Draft: UW’s Marquese Chriss taken 8th, Gonzaga’s Domantas Sabonis picked 11th
Jun 23, 2016, 5:36 PM | Updated: Jun 24, 2016, 10:19 am
Washington forward Marquese Chriss is heading to Phoenix, Gonzaga forward Domantas Sabonis is on his way to Oklahoma City, and neither were drafted by their new teams.
The Kings selected Chriss with the No. 8 overall pick in the NBA Draft on Thursday, but it won’t be a homecoming for the Sacramento native as his draft rights were part of a trade with the Suns. Chriss confirmed that he was notified by the Suns that they acquired his rights on the draft broadcast.
As for Sabonis, he was taken 11th overall by the Orlando Magic, but his rights along with Victor Oladipo and Ersan Ilyasova were shipped to the Thunder in exchange for Serge Ibaka.
Also taken in the first round was Seattle’s own Dajounte Murray, a teammate of Chriss’ at UW who fell a long way from the lottery projections some experts had given him. He may have found himself in about as good of a situation as possible, however, going No. 29 overall to perennial contender San Antonio.
A 6-foot-9 forward, Chriss averaged 13.7 points, 5.4 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game in 2015-16 for the Huskies. He started all 34 games for UW last season, set a team freshman record with 55 blocks, and had a stretch of 11 straight league games with double-figure scoring.
It took time for momentum to build behind Chriss for the draft, likely a result of UW falling short of reaching the NCAA Tournament last year and the fact that he wasn’t a top-50 prep prospect heading into college. But he shot up draft boards when scouts started to see what he’s capable of with a 6-foot-9 frame. Earlier in the week, ESPN NBA Draft expert Fran Fraschilla told 710 ESPN Seattle’s John Clayton that Chriss has “elite NBA athleticism. Not just above-average, but top-two-percent athleticism.”
Sabonis, the son of former NBA center Arvydas Sabonis, played two seasons for the Zags. The versatile big man from Lithuania averaged 17.6 points and a team-high 11.8 rebounds per game in 2015-16. He was named to the All-WCC first team in 2015-16 and was a second-team selection as a freshman.
In Sabonis’ two years at Gonzaga, the team reached the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 2001.
Murray, who starred at Rainier Beach High School, was named to the Pac-12 All-Conference second team in 2015-16, finishing second on the Huskies with 16.1 points per game and leading the team with six rebounds per game. The 6-foot-5 guard set a UW freshman record with 151 assists, and his 548 points and 62 steals rank second in the UW record books for a freshman. He also scored 20-plus points in 10 games and topped 30 points twice.
Murray was highly touted out of high school, winning the Washington Gatorade Men’s Basketball Player of the Year, WIAA Mr. Basketball and News Tribune Player of the Year honors in 2015.