On a night when the international reach of the NBA was in full bloom, four ASN-affiliated players heard their names called in the 2016 NBA Draft.
Led by St. Joseph’s dominator DeAndre’ Bembry, taken by the Atlanta Hawks with the 21st pick, three players were first-round selections.
After Bembry, UConn’s Daniel Hamilton was selected 26th by the Denver Nuggets before his rights were traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder for cash considerations. Hamilton was followed by New Mexico State’s Pascal Siakam, picked No. 27 by Toronto.
Oakland’s Kay Felder had to wait until the second round to hear his name called but it was worth it. Felder, chosen by the Hawks had his rights traded to the 2016 NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers for about $2.4 million.
“That means a lot to give up all that money for one pick. I owe them,” Felder told MLive.com. “I owe them a lot because they did a lot for that pick so I’m going to come in ready to work from day one.”
Former Oakland assistant Brandon Weems is now a college scout for the Cavs. Felder told MLive.com he remembered LeBron James coming to Oakland to watch him play.
“B. Weems texted me after the pick to say, ‘We got you’ and that’s good to be with him because he’s my guy and somebody I look up to,” Felder said. “It’s very big because LeBron has come to see me play a couple of times and I was very excited.
“That’s the best feeling in the world to play in front of the best player in basketball so why wouldn’t you want to put on a show?”
Bembry was not on hand at the Barclay Center for the draft. His brother, Adrian Potts, was shot and killed in Charlotte, N.C., on June 11.
“It’s been a very rough time for me,” Bembry told the Associated Press. “Me and my mother, I don’t know. It seems unreal that my brother isn’t here. It’s so crazy. I don’t know. I don’t really want to speak on that. That was like my best friend. I just loved that guy and I’m definitely going to put more effort out there just for him.”
Bembry was on the Hawks’s radar for a while. “He’s a player we have watched for quite some time,” said Hawks general manager Wes Wilcox. “He has a great deal of versatility, a very good passer and high basketball IQ.”
Siakam, the No. 27 pick, is a native of Cameroon, who ESPN’s Chad Ford said was “tough, plays with a great motor.” One of the knocks on Siakam according to USA Today is that he lacks offensive polish.
Hamilton, who had been advised by UConn head coach Kevin Ollie not to enter the draft, was the American Athletic Conference player of the year as a freshman, but struggled on offense as a sophomore. However, in the conference tournament, he woke up: He scored 63 points and had 34 rebounds in the Huskies’ three victories. He was named the tournament’s most outstanding player.
How the draft played out on social media:
Video courtesy WEYI NBC 25