For the fourth time since 1999, a Duke player was the first overall selection of the NBA draft. That also made it the ninth consecutive year in which the ACC had one of its players taken within the first four picks. The conference had a decent night overall, but the 2022 NBA Draft particularly was amazing for Duke, like that surprises anyone. Meanwhile, Notre Dame saw one of its own selected in the first round, which had not happened in seven years.
While it would be nice to guarantee that all of these players will hit it big in the NBA, we all know that’s unlikely. Some might be future superstars, and others might not even register a single minute in the league. Time will let all of these careers play out, and it’s not really the time to speculate on who will be good or bad. This is the time for them to celebrate the next chapter of their lives.
Here are the ACC players who were drafted by NBA teams in 2022:
No. 1 – Orlando Magic – Paolo Banchero – Duke:
Mar 10, 2022; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Duke Blue Devils forward Paolo Banchero (5) brings the ball up court against the Syracuse Orange during the first half at Barclays Center. Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports:
It was a given that Banchero would go within the first three picks of the draft, though not everyone had the ACC Rookie of the Year and second All-American team be the first of the board. Regardless, his 17.2 points and 7.6 rebounds a game were no accident, and he earned his spot on the All-ACC First Team. He’ll join a young Magic core that already consists of Cole Anthony, Franz Wagner, Jalen Suggs and fellow former Blue Devil Wendell Carter Jr. Things only can get better for a team that finished the 2021-22 season at the bottom of the Eastern Conference.
No. 15 – Charlotte Hornets – Mark Williams – Duke:
Mar 20, 2022; Greenville, SC, USA; Duke Blue Devils center Mark Williams (15) dunks the ball against the Michigan State Spartans in the first half during the second round of the 2022 NCAA Tournament at Bon Secours Wellness Arena. Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports:
If there’s anything to know about Williams, it’s defense, defense and defense. He is the reigning ACC Defensive Player of the Year, which happened the same season he made the conference’s all-defensive team and made third team all-conference. In two seasons with the Blue Devils, he averaged 9.7 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2.3 blocks a game, leading the conference in that last category in 2021-22 (2.8). He might have been drafted as a future replacement for fellow former Blue Devil Mason Plumlee, who becomes an unrestricted free agent after the upcoming season.
No. 16 – Atlanta Hawks – AJ Griffin – Duke:
Mar 18, 2022; Greenville, SC, USA; Duke Blue Devils forward AJ Griffin (21) brings the ball up courtac during the first round of the 2022 NCAA Tournament at Bon Secours Wellness Arena. Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports:
Griffin was another one-and-done player for the Blue Devils. At 10.4 points and 3.9 rebounds a game, he made the conference’s all-freshman team. He will join a Hawks team that has plenty of young talent at forward already, most notably De’Andre Hunter. It’s possible Griffin was drafted as depth in case they lose Hunter, who is set to become a restricted free agent.
No. 19 – Memphis Grizzlies (from Minnesota Timberwolves) – Jake LaRavia – Wake Forest
LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY – DECEMBER 29: Jake LaRavia # 0 of the Wake Forest Deacons against the Louisville Cardinals at KFC YUM! Center on December 29, 2021 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Andy Lyons / Getty Images)
LaRavia thrived in his lone season with the Demon Deacons after two years at Indiana State. He improved across the board with 14.6 points, 6.6 rebounds and 3.7 assists a game. Aided by ranking in the ACC in field-goal percentage (.559), he was named second team all-conference. He’ll give the Grizzlies depth at guard, and the draft-night trade of De’Anthony Melton should free up some minutes for him.
No. 25 – San Antonio Spurs – Blake Wesley – Notre Dame:
Jan 17, 2022; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish guard Blake Wesley (0) dunks the ball against the Howard Bison during the first half at Burr Gymnasium. Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports:
Wesley, a South Bend native, made the most of his one season with the Irish. At 14.4 points and 2.4 assists a game, he easily made the ACC All-Freshman Team and was second team all-conference. With the Spurs, he will join a group of young guards looking to make the historic franchise a winner once again. Devin Vassell is a key piece to that group already in place, and maybe Wesley can help make up some of the production that was lost when the Spurs traded Derrick White.
No. 26 – Minnesota Timberwolves (from Dallas Mavericks) – Wendell Moore Jr. – Duke:
Feb 10, 2022; Clemson, South Carolina, USA; Duke Blue Devils forward Wendell Moore Jr. (0) looks to shoot during the first half against the Clemson Tigers at Littlejohn Coliseum. Dawson Powers-USA TODAY Sports:
Moore’s third season with the Blue Devils was his best. He had career highs everywhere, including 13.4 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.4 assists a game. Not only did they land him on the All-ACC Second Team and the all-defensive team, but he won the Julius Erving Award, which is given to the best small forward in college basketball. That’s a position the Timberwolves are lacking in, so hopefully, he’ll see enough minutes as a rookie.
No. 42 – New York Knicks – Trevor Keels – Duke:
Mar 20, 2022; Greenville, SC, USA; Duke Blue Devils guard Trevor Keels (1) drives to the basket against the Michigan State Spartans in the first half during the second round of the 2022 NCAA Tournament at Bon Secours Wellness Arena. Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports:
Yet another one-and-done for the Blue Devils went off the board in the draft’s second round. Keels averaged 11.5 points, 2.7 assists and 1.2 steals a game. That put him on the ACC All-Freshman Team alongside teammates Banchero and Griffin. He’ll provide guard depth for the Knicks, and maybe, he’ll get some NBA tips from fellow former Blue Devil RJ Barrett, who will be a restricted free agent at the end of the season.