The wait felt interminable.
For Miye Oni and supporters, it stretched five hours throughout nearly the entire NBA Draft; for Ivy League basketball at large, it lasted 24 years.
But early Friday morning, the wait ended as Oni, who chose last month to remain eligible for the NBA Draft and leave Yale after his junior season despite an uncertain draft stock, became the first Ivy League hoopster selected in the NBA Draft since Jerome Allen was taken 49th by the Minnesota Timberwolves in 1995.
Oni was selected 58th by the Golden State Warriors but was picked for the Utah Jazz, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
Oni was the 2018-19 Ivy Player of the Year and led the Bulldogs to an Ivy League championship as a junior. He left Yale as the 10th leading scorer in school history with 1,308 career points.
Oni averaged 15 points, 6.2 rebounds, 3.3 assists and one block per game during his three seasons at Yale.
Ranked No. 53 among ESPN’s top 100 prospects for this summer’s draft, Oni’s selection in the draft is particularly remarkable given that he was originally a Division III commit who didn’t even make the varsity team in high school until his junior year and went unnoticed by many schools.
The 6-6, 210-pound wing impressed NBA scouts with his 29-point performance in a Yale win over Miami at the HoopHall Invitational in December and participated in the prestigious Nike Skills Academy in 2017, one of only 21 college players invited there.
Here’s a look back at 6-6, 210 pound + 21-year-old #Yale SG prospect Miye Oni, the 58th pick who will end up with @utahjazz, scored a career-high 29 PTS on 10/15 FG’s vs. #Miami, which was impressive because he didn’t look remotely phased by an #ACC opponent pic.twitter.com/ouARIum59t
— Jonathan Givony (@DraftExpress) June 21, 2019
Oni becomes the first Yale player selected in the NBA Draft since Chris Dudley went 75th in the fourth round (when there was one) to the Cleveland Cavaliers in 1987.
The Jazz clearly did their mid-major homework, targeting not only Oni but two players from the CAA only a few picks ahead of him in the second round: 6-7, 255-pound forward Jarrell Brantley from Charleston (50th) and 6-2, 190-pound guard Justin Wright-Foreman from Hofstra (53rd).
“There is a saying: If you go play in college and you’re good enough, the NBA will find you,” Jazz general manager Justin Zanik said following the NBA Draft, according to the Salt Lake Tribune’s Andy Larsen.
“What we really like is his defensive ability, even though he (had) a main-scoring role at Yale,” Zanik said, per Larsen. Open shot making, being able to contest and use his length, I think he can be a defender at first and open shot-maker as he develops, and then working with and without the ball.
The Jazz are known for finding diamonds in the rough, from Paul Millsap in the second round of the 2006 NBA Draft to Joe Ingles off waivers from the Los Angeles Clippers in 2014 after he played four years overseas.
Oni will have to fight hard for roster space.
Zanik said that players who compete may seize a developmental path, according to Larsen.
” … That could be any number of ways. It could be on the roster, G-League, two-way … But let’s get you in here, let’s get our coaching staff around you, and have a good summer and play and work with them after that to figure out the best developmental path,” Zanik said.
Oni was the only Ivy player picked in the draft despite several other Ancient Eight prospects attracting NBA interest.
Matt Morgan of Cornell had draft workouts with the Toronto Raptors, Washington Wizards and Charlotte Hornets.
Devin Cannady of Princeton had draft workouts with the Brooklyn Nets, Dallas Mavericks, Indiana Pacers, New York Knicks, Oklahoma City Thunder and Milwaukee Bucks, while Myles Stephens of Princeton had workouts with the Wizards and the Knicks.
Cannady announced on Twitter early Friday morning that his next stop is NBA Summer League with the Oklahoma City Thunder:
— Devin Cannady (@devin_cannady3) June 21, 2019