The NBA draft has come and gone and the Houston area has once again represented in a big way. Four stars who played high school ball locally were drafted. Kentucky’s De’Aaron Fox and North Carolina’s Justin Jackson were both first-round selections. Kansas State’s Wesley Iwundi and the University of Houston’s Dameyean Dotson were picked in the second round.
For Fox (point guard, 6-feet-3) a lot has been accomplished in a short period of time. He was the fifth player selected overall, taking his immense talent to the Sacramento Kings. The all-state product from Cy-Lakes averaged 16.7 points, 4.6 assists and 3.9 rebounds in 29.6 minutes per game, starting in all but two games for the Kentucky Wildcats in his lone college season.
“It’s gratifying being able to be in this position,” Fox said. “I’m just ready to get to work, grow with the team. I want to be able to help the city turn the franchise around.”
Fox described what the Kings will get when he steps on the court.
“Defensively I feel like I really separated myself because I go at people trying to score and get my teammates involved…I wanted to come in and be able to affect the game right away. A lot of people say I could be a franchise changer, and that’s what I really want to be.”
For Jackson (small forward, 6-feet-8) the draft is the culmination of a dream year. Earlier this spring the Tomball native starred on the North Carolina team that won the NCAA championship, their second consecutive trip to the finals.
The 22-year-old junior played in 40 games last season for the Tarheels, averaging 18.3 points and 4.7 rebounds in 32 minutes per game.
Selected by Portland with the 15th pick, he was traded to Sacramento for Zach Collins who had been the Kings 10th pick overall.
As a result of the trade Fox and Jackson, who were AAU teammates here in town, are reunited as teammates in the NBA.
“I’ve known him since I was younger,” Fox said. “He’s like a big brother to me. Now we’re going to the same team. I feel like the transition to Sacramento is going to be a lot smoother when it’s someone you know and you really like having around you.”
“It’s going to be good to have a familiar face out there,” Jackson said. “Sacramento is a long way away, so to have somebody that I’ve been around and I know really well, that’ll be great.”
Jackson, who pondered entering the draft following his sophomore season, explained what he plans to bring to the Kings.
“It’s an honor to be picked by [Sacramento], knowing I’m going to an organization where I can get right to work,” said Jackson. “Hopefully I’m going to bring somebody that comes to work each and every day, works extremely hard and does whatever he needs to do to try to be successful, so I’m really looking forward to it.”
H-town continued to represent in the second round with two additional selections.
Former Westfield standout and Kansas State small forward Iwundi (6-feet-7, 205 pounds) was taken by the Orlando Magic in the second round, 33rd overall. He led the Wildcats in scoring (13 ppg.) and rebounds (6 ppg.) and was a third-team All-Big 12 performer as a senior.
“It’s an exciting moment in my life and I’m ready for it,” Iwundi said. “The Magic are a young athletic team with a lot to look forward to. I think Orlando is a great city.”
Former Yates all-state product and Houston Cougar Dameyean Dotson (6-foot-5 guard) was taken by the New York Knicks in the second round, the No. 44 pick overall. He became the first Cougar to be selected in the NBA draft since Alton Ford was taken in the second round with the No. 50 overall pick by the Phoenix Suns in 2001.
Dotson established himself as one of the league’s top all-around players and was one of only two to rank among the American Athletic Conference’s top-10 leaders in both scoring (17 ppg.) and rebounding (7 rpg.).