NEW YORK (AP) — Chris McCullough didn’t have a chance to showcase his basketball talents as the NBA draft approached. The Brooklyn Nets liked enough of what they saw and heard from the Syracuse freshman to take him with the 29th pick of the first round of the NBA draft.
The 6-foot-10 forward was off to a great start with the Orange when he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee against Florida State in early January. He started all 16 games he played and averaged 9.3 points, 6.9 rebounds and 2.1 blocks.
The rehabilitation from the knee surgery is still going on for McCullough, who wasn’t able to participate in the Combine when possible draft picks are put through workouts by the teams.
“The main thing that stuck out to me was in the interview process, because I couldn’t play in the Combine,” said McCullough, who was greeted by Nets coach Lionel Hollins shortly after the pick was announced. “So nobody could see me play. So my interview was pretty good, he said, and that’s what got them to pick me.”
The Nets’ second-round pick, No. 41 overall, was Notre Dame’s Pat Connaughton, a 6-5 swingman who was a third-team All-Atlantic Coast Conferences pick as a senior when he helped the Irish reach the Elite 8 for the first time since 1979. He played in more games (139) than anyone in school history.
The Nets made a draft-day trade when they sent two future second-round draft picks to the Charlotte Hornets for the rights to Juan Pablo Vaulet, the 39th overall pick. Vaulet, a guard, played with Bahia Basket in Argentina.
The draft was held Thursday night at Barclays Center, the Nets’ home court. There was some very positive reaction from one group of Nets fans when McCullough’s name was announced but there wasn’t much cheering overall when the pick was announced.
“Just a good feeling to finally hear my name get called and walk on the stage,” McCullough, a native of The Bronx, said. “It’s my hometown. It’s a good feeling.”
McCullough has no plans to rush his recovery in any way.
“I should be able to play by November,” he said. “I’m not going to rush it. I’m just waiting my time, that’s it.”
The Nets would have had the 15th pick but they had to swap picks with Atlanta in the deal for Joe Johnson.
This wasn’t Connaughton’s first draft. He was taken in the fourth round (121 overall) in the 2014 Major League Baseball draft by the Baltimore Orioles. He spent June and July that year with their Class A affiliate Aberdeen Iron Birds and posted a 2.45 ERA in six appearances. He played three seasons with the Notre Dame baseball program and finished with a 3.03 ERA in 32 career appearances.
(Copyright 2015 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)