Paolo Banchero made his name in NBA history Thursday night when he finished fifth Duke Blue Devil selected first overall in the draft.
Duke had the most No. 1 picks of any school in the country that attended the night, adding that Banchero went to the Orlando Magic.
Banchero enjoyed a stellar freshman season at Durham, where he was named 2021-22 ACC Rookie of the Year, ACC All-Freshman Team, All-ACC First Team, All-ACC Tournament First Team, ACC Leader in Points Scored (671 ) and field goals (245) and NCAA Second Team All-America.
Before Banchero, Duke saw Zion Williamson (2019), Kyrie Irving (2011), Elton Brand (1999) and Art Heyman (1963) all in first place.
Drafted by the New Orleans Pelicans in 2019, Zion Williamson established himself as the top collegiate basketball player of 2018-19. He was named a 2018-19 Naismith Award Winner, AP Player of the Year, ACC All-Defense, All-ACC, First Team All-American, and ACC Tournament MVP.
Nor did he slow down when he hit the NBA hardwood. In his first NBA game, he had 17 consecutive points in just over three minutes of play in the fourth quarter. Williamson had at least 20 points in four straight games, the longest streak by a rookie of the season. He also tied the longest streak in Pelicans franchise history, scoring at least 20 points in six of his first eight games.
Williamson averaged over 25 points per game and became the first teenager in NBA history to score at least 20 points in 10 straight games. At the end of his rookie season, he was named to the 2021 NBA All-Star and All-NBA Rookie First Team.
When Kyrie Irving was drafted in 2011 it seemed like an anomaly to the average NBA fan, but Cleveland knew what kind of player he was.
Irving only played in nine regular season games with Duke before injuring his toe and only played again in the postseason when Duke fell to Arizona in Sweet 16. Irving scored 28 points in that game in what turned out to be his last for the Blue Devils.
Irving has become a real superstar in the NBA. He was the 2011-12 NBA Rookie of the Year, 2014 All-Star Game MVP, three-time All-NBA, and seven-time NBA All-Star. In 2016, he hit the game-winning 3-pointer in the NBA championship to lift the Cavaliers over Golden State with less than a minute to go.
The Chicago Bulls selected Elton Brand in 1999 after a two-year career at Duke. His sophomore season was by far his best, as he was named a First-Team All-ACC, ACC Player of the Year, First Team All-American, and 1999 ACC Tournament MVP.
His 17-year playing career in the NBA was highlighted by being named NBA Co-Rookie of the Year 1999-2000 with Steve Francis of the Houston Rockets. He was a two-time All-Star and 2005-06 All-NBA 2nd Team.
The first Blue Devil to be drafted first overall was Art Heyman. The New York Knicks picked the 6-foot-5 leading scorer after leading Duke to his first Final Four in 1963.
Some say Heyman was responsible for Duke becoming a basketball powerhouse. He was a 1961-62 second-team All-American, a 1962-63 first-team All-American, an All-ACC every year of his career at Duke, a 1963 ACC Tournament MVP, and a 1963 NCAA Most Outstanding Player -Tournament appointed.
His NBA career didn’t last long. In 1967, Heyman joined the American Basketball Association and helped the Pittsburgh Pipers win the league’s first championship in 1968.
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