NBA Draft tracker: Pair of UW Huskies, Gonzaga duo selected
A pair of UW Huskies and a pair of Gonzaga Bulldogs were selected in the 2019 NBA Draft, and an additional selection was made of a former Seattle prep star.
Matisse Thybulle, the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, is headed to Philadelphia after being selected 20th overall, and his UW teammate Jaylen Nowell, the Pac-12 Player of the Year, was taken by Minnesota in the second round.
As for the Zags, forward duo Rui Hachimura (ninth overall, Washington Wizards) and Brandon Clarke (21st overall, traded by Oklahoma City to Memphis) gave Gonzaga its first-ever draft class with multiple first-round selections.
Joining Thybulle, an Issaquah native who starred at Eastside Catholic, and Nowell, who was a standout at Seattle’s Garfield, as Seattle-area players heading to the league is USC’s Kevin Porter Jr., a Rainier Beach alum who was taken with the final pick of the first round.
Not hearing their names called, however, were Gonzaga guard Zach Norvell Jr., who was projected by some to go in the second round, and WSU forward and Vancouver, Wash., native Robert Franks.
Here’s a full look at every local 2019 NBA Draft selection.
No. 9, Washington Wizards: Rui Hachimura, SF, Gonzaga
Hachimura becomes the first-ever Japanese player picked in an NBA Draft. The 6-foot-8, 230-pound Hachimura went from a role player to a bonafide star in his three-year tenure with the Zags, finishing his junior season averaging 19.7 points and 6.7 rebounds per game.
All smiles from the newest Wizard. pic.twitter.com/14c8ZBx04w
— Washington Wizards (@WashWizards) June 21, 2019
In NBA.com’s consensus mock draft, Hachimura is described as “a long, athletic forward with a unique background who has enjoyed a meteoric rise over the last two seasons.”
Hachimura won the 2019 Erving Award, given annually by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame to the top men’s collegiate small forward. He was also the WCC Player of the Year and a first-team All-America selection by NBC Sports and Blue Book.
Only one Gonzaga player has ever been picked higher than Hachimura: Adam Morrison, who was selected No. 3 overall by Charlotte in 2006. Hachimura joins Morrison and Portland Trail Blazers center Zach Collins (10th overall, 2017) as Zags picked in the top 10.
No. 20, 76ers (via Celtics): Matisse Thybulle, SF, UW Huskies
Though Thybulle was picked by the Celtics, but he is taking his disruptive defensive style to Philadelphia.
The 2019 Naismith Defensive Player of the Year and Washington’s first-ever two-time Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, Thybulle helped the Huskies return to the NCAA Tournament as a senior in 2018-19. He broke Sonics legend Gary Payton’s conference career steals record and is the only Pac-12 player to ever finish with 100 steals in two separate seasons. He finished 2018-19 with averages of 2.3 blocks and 3.5 steals per game as the centerpiece of head coach Mike Hopkins’ zone defense.
The 6-5 Thybulle features an extraordinary 7-foot wingspan that makes him an absolute terror for offensive players to deal with. His offensive game will need work, however, but he has shown the ability to take over games with a penchant for creating breakaway dunks through steals in the backcourt.
Thybulle provided one of the more memorable moments of this draft talking about his late mother following his selection. (Click here to watch a Pac-12 Network feature on Thybulle that delves into his connection with his mom and family. Just be aware that you will cry.)
"I wish she was here to see it."
Matisse Thybulle talking about how his late mother inspired him is powerful. pic.twitter.com/DPF6SB44AL
— ESPN (@espn) June 21, 2019
No. 21, Oklahoma City Thunder: Brandon Clarke, PF, Gonzaga
Like Thybulle, Clarke isn’t going to the team that drafted him, but instead going to Memphis. That’s an exciting prospect, as the Grizzlies took Ja Morant with the No. 2 overall pick, a talented point guard with pinpoint passing ability who might have some fun playing with a forward that can jump out of the gym. Now is a good time to invoke memories of Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp playing together, right?
The 6-7, 207-pound Clarke is a Vancouver, British Columbia native who transferred to Gonzaga from San Jose State and turned heads as a junior in 2018-19. He had a breakout game in the NCAA Tournament, scoring 36 points to power the Zags past Baylor and into the Sweet 16.
— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) March 24, 2019
An AP All-America third team selection, Clarke averaged 16.9 points, 8.6 rebounds and a WCC-leading 3.2 blocks per game and was one of four finalists for the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year award that Thybulle ultimately won.
No. 30, Milwaukee Bucks: Kevin Porter Jr., SG, USC (Rainier Beach)
Former Rainier Beach standout Kevin Porter Jr. is on his way to the Cavaliers in a trade after being taken with the final pick of the first round.
In his lone season at USC, Porter averaged 9.5 points and 4 rebounds per game, and he was sixth in the Pac-12 in 3-point shooting at 41.2 percent.
Ready to get down to business. 😤
— Pac-12 Network (@Pac12Network) June 21, 2019
Porter was Washington’s Mr. Basketball after averaging 27 points, 14 rebounds and five assists as a senior in 2017-18.
Porter has dealt with adversity in his life after his father was murdered when he was just 4 years old in 2004. Jamal Crawford, a fellow Rainier Beach alum, has served as a mentor for Porter.
No. 43, Minnesota Timberwolves: Jaylen Nowell, SG, UW Huskies
The Pac-12 Player of the Year will begin his NBA career in the backcourt in Minneapolis after helping the Huskies snap their NCAA Tournament drought in 2019.
The 6-4, 202-pound Nowell averaged 16.2 points, 3.1 assists and 5.3 rebounds per game as a sophomore with Washington. He starred at Garfield in Seattle in his prep career, and he didn’t miss a beat in his freshman year with Mike Hopkins’ Huskies, scoring 16 points per game in 2017-18. He became the fastest player to score 1,000 points in UW program history in his short time on Montlake.
— Pac-12 Network (@Pac12Network) June 21, 2019