Thursday evening, Barclays Center, Brooklyn, N.Y., NBA Commissioner Adam Silver at the podium addressed an amped crowd and television audience from the stage.
“With the first pick of the 2018 NBA draft, the Phoenix Suns select DeAndre Ayton,” said Silver.
Ayton is the franchise’s first ever No. 1 pick in their 50-year history, their highest overall selection to date.
Ayton, born in Nassau, Bahamas, a 7-foot-1, 260-pound center from the University of Arizona, turning 20 on July 23, averaged 20.1 points per game and 11.6 rebounds in 35 games in his one college season with Arizona. He averaged 33.5 minutes per with 24 double-doubles, 17 20-point games, two in the 30s. Ayton logged 66 blocks in his single season.
Ayton, 6-foot-8 at 12 years old, grew up playing soccer. With a new interest in basketball, he paid his way to his first basketball camp in 2015 by working a summer plumbing job with his stepfather.
Ayton made news earlier this year when it was discovered that FBI wiretap telephone conversations between Arizona’s head coach, Sean Miller, and Christian Dawkins, a runner working for ASM Sports agent Andy Miller, a key figure in an FBI investigation into college basketball corruption, contained discussions of Miller allegedly paying $100,000 to ensure that Ayton would sign to attend and play for Miller’s basketball program. The investigation is ongoing.
With the second pick, the Sacramento Kings selected Marvin Bagley III, a power forward/center from Duke University. The Atlanta Hawks choose Luka Doncic at three, a guard from Slovenia, who they traded to the Dallas Mavericks.
The Memphis Grizzlies who picked fourth, selected Jaren Jackson Jr., from Michigan State, also a power forward. The Mavericks, in their alliance with the Hawks, choose Trae Young, a point guard from Oklahoma at five, trading him to the Hawks to complete the trade.
The Orlando Magic selected Mohamed Bamba, a 7-foot-1, 225-pound center from the University of Texas at six. Bamba turned 20 last month. He was born in Harlem, N.Y. to Lancine and Aminata Bamba, who both emigrated from the Ivory Coast.
In the 29 games that Bamba played with Texas, he averaged 12.9 points and 10.4 rebounds in 30.2 minutes per game.
The Chicago Bulls selected seventh choosing center Wendell Carter Jr., another Duke player. The Cleveland Cavaliers drafted point guard Colin Sexton (Alabama) eighth, with the pick that was initially held by the Brooklyn Nets some years ago. Through some maneuvering, they were able to secure Sexton. Through a trade with Toronto earlier in the season, they were able to secure the 29th pick, choosing Dzanan Musa, a small forward from Bosnia.
The New York Knicks choose forward Kevin Knox from Kentucky at nine, the Philadelphia 76ers choose Mikal Bridges, a guard/forward from Villanova, who they traded to Phoenix at 10. The Charlotte Hornets at 11 chose guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, another Kentucky player who they traded to the Los Angeles Clippers. The Clippers then use their 12th pick to take forward Miles Bridges from Michigan State, who they then traded to Charlotte and chose Jerome Robinson with the 13 pick, a guard from Boston College before the Denver Nuggets closed out the first 14 picks held for non-qualifying playoff teams, choosing forward Michael Porter Jr. from Missouri, once recognized as the best ballplayer in his high school until a back injury sidelined him.