It was a successful night for Roy Williams and UNC basketball, as the head coach saw three of his players drafted in the first round of the 2019 NBA Draft.
“It was such an exciting evening for Tar Heel Basketball, for everyone from our players and staff to our fans,” Williams said. “I had conversations with 21 NBA teams over the last week. For me, it’s always a nervous night because it means so much to our players and their families, and it was that way for me right up until Nassir (Little) was selected by Portland.”
The night kicked off with the Chicago Bulls selecting Coby White with the seventh overall pick. White is the first UNC player that the Bulls have selected in the first round since Michael Jordan in 1984.
“I am so happy for Coby, Cameron (Johnson) and Nassir because each of them have reached one of their goals,” Williams said. “I felt a sense of relief for Coby because he was at a spot where people recognized what a great player he was for us. He was in serious consideration for the third, fourth, fifth and sixth picks before the Bulls took him at seven. Chicago wanted him from day one, so I am very pleased he went there. They are getting a fantastic player.”
Much to the surprise of many watching the draft, Johnson was the next Tar Heel off the board. He was selected with the 11th overall pick by the Phoenix Suns (via a trade with the Minnesota Timberwolves.)
Johnson arrived to UNC as a graduate transfer and exploded onto the scene this season when he averaged 16.9 points per game and earned First Team All-ACC honors.
“I was just ecstatic for Cameron. It’s so fitting to see a young man finally be paid back for the time he put in the weight room, the gym and even the training room. He put in the hard work and the sweat, and the attention to detail on his game and his body and it was all rewarded tonight. It makes me a huge fan again of the Suns, like I was when Walter Davis was such a great player there.”
Preseason projections had Little as a potential lottery pick, but draft night saw the former five-star recruit sweat it out in the green room. Eventually, Portland ended his wait and took him with the 25th overall pick in the first round.
“I was very satisfied with the first two picks (Coby and Cameron), but I was dying for Nassir,” Williams said. “That’s a hard situation to be in the green room with so many other players, maybe too many. But you never know teams are thinking. I know one thing – he is the absolute steal of the draft. I’m ecstatic that he’s in the NBA. He will play with a chip on his shoulder now and I know he will be a fantastic pro for a long, long time.”
Featured image via @trailblazers