Paolo Banchero knew that Thursday would be a special day at the beginning of his NBA career.

He knew nothing about Orlando Magic’s plans. The team was first overall selected in the NBA Draft that night. He couldn’t believe it when he knew a few minutes before NBA Commissioner Adam Silver called his name.

“This is not a dream,” Banchero said. “I think this is an illusion. I dreamed of joining the NBA, but I dreamed of being number one overall. It’s crazy.”

Magic chose Banchero, a forward from Duke University, who won the top pick in the draft on Thursday. He was a 6’10, 250-pound power forward and his mother, Rhonda Smith Bancello, played for the WNBA. He was a security guard early in his basketball career and played football and basketball at Odia High School in Seattle.

Minutes before his name was called, Banchero sat at a table on the floor of Barclays Center and showed no emotion on his face. Magic is in time, and the word Banchero may be their choice has begun to spread. The cameras were swarming around him, but he didn’t react outwards. His expression changed only when he heard his name.

He bowed, looked up, and smiled with tears in his eyes.

“I was telling everyone that no matter what pick I chose, I wouldn’t cry,” Banchero said. “It just hit me. I couldn’t stop.”

In his only season at Duke, Banchero was named the Rookie of the Year at the Atlantic Coast Conference, averaging 17.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game.

The remaining picks in the Top 5: Gonzaga’s Chet Holmgren in 2nd place to Oklahoma City Thunder, Auburn’s Jabari Smith Jr. in 3rd place to the Houston Rockets, Ivey’s Keegan Murray to 4th place in Sacramento Kings, and Purdu. From Jaden Ivey to No. 5 Detroit Pistons.

At the top of this year’s draft, Banchero, Holmgren, and Smith were thought to have split three prospects.

Holmgren nodded and subtly grinned when he heard Bancello’s name first called. When Silver called his name, Holmgren jumped out with a wide smile and stopped for his handshake and a long hug with his family.

“I got a thousand emotions to explain this moment,” Holmgren said in an interview broadcast at the Arena in Brooklyn. “It’s surreal and everything I expected.”

20-year-old Holmgren is a 7-foot-high center with thin rails, raised in Minneapolis and nominated by Minnesota Basketball in 2021. Each of them spent a season in Gonzaga.

Holmgren led Gonzaga to a 28-4 record, averaging 14.1 points per game while achieving 60.7% of field goal attempts. He also averaged 9.9 rebounds and 3.7 blocks per game. Gonzaga participated in the NCAA tournament as the No. 1 seed overall, but was upset in the 16th round.

In the days before the draft, rumors spread in media reports that Orlando first decided to choose Smith overall. Smith seemed disappointed as he waited for his name to be called. When Silver finally announced his name, another prospect, Tari Eason of Louisiana, who played at the same conference, jumped out of his seat to applaud for Smith.

“I was surprised when it didn’t happen because I know it was possible,” Smith said of his overall likelihood of being the first to be chosen. “As you know, everyone who participates in the pick is a great player. They bring a lot to the table. As I said in other interviews, it was a coin toss. So when that happened, I Was just happy for them, applauded for them, and waited for my name to be called. “

19-year-old Smith spent a season in Auburn after gaining a prominent career in high school basketball in Georgia. He played for the same Amateur Athletic Union team as Dwight Howard, another No. 1 pick by Magic. Smith’s father, also known as Jabari Smith, spent part of the four seasons in the NBA in the early 2000s.

Jabari Smith Jr. is a freshman at the Southeastern Conference this year and was named All-American for Team 2 of the season. Smith is a 6’10 power forward with the ability to shoot from the surroundings. He scored 42.9% of the three points and averaged 16.9 points per match at Auburn.

The first surprise of the night was that Kings chose Murray in 4th place, hoping that Banchero, Holmgren and Smith would be in the top three. Audiences at Barclays Center erupted at the announcement.

Murray is the most chosen Hawkeye in school history. The 6-foot-8 forward has won the All-American honor of the first team of consensus this past season, finishing fourth in the Division I score with 23.5 points per game. He led Hawkeye to a record of 26-10 and played in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

Ivy spent two seasons at Purdue before declaring a draft. He averaged 17.3 points, 4.9 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game during his sophomore season.

Magic won this year’s draft lottery after finishing the season at 22-60. This is the worst record at the Eastern Conference and the second worst record in the league. Only the Houston Rockets, who were third in this year’s draft after the 20-62 season, won less games than Magic.

This year is the fourth time in franchise history and the first choice overall. Magic drafted Shaquille O’Neal with his first pick in 1992. Chris Webber they immediately exchanged for Penny Hardaway in 1993. And in 2004 Dwight Howard.

The Hardaway and O’Neal pair made one appearance in the NBA Finals, but didn’t have the Magic Championship. Howard also led Magic to one final in 2009.

O’Neill and Howard then won the championship while playing for the Los Angeles Lakers. O’Neill in 2000, 2001 and 2002, Howard in 2020.

Prior to Banchero, the last Duke player to be ranked number one overall in the NBA Draft was Zion Williamson in 2019. Banchero won the distinction as a top pick, following two guards, Anthony Edwards (2020) and Cade Cunningham (2021).

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