Starting with Cleveland’s surprise choice of Anthony Bennett No. 1 overall, the NBA draft promised to be suspenseful from start to finish.
Peyton Siva, who watched the proceedings with his fiancée, died a little bit inside with every pick.
The former Franklin High star who helped Louisville to a national championship in April had to wait until nearly the very end before realizing his dream.
“It got down to the last 10 picks,” said Siva, who was taken in the second round — 56th overall — by the Detroit Pistons. “I finally got a call. They said they’d call my name and I was just relieved.
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“I got a sense of accomplishment and I’m really thankful for the opportunity. It was a crazy night. With everything happening in the draft, you didn’t know how things were going to turn out.”
Most of the top college stars like Gonzaga’s Kelly Olynyk, who was taken at No. 13 by Dallas and traded to Boston, were selected in the top half of the draft.
But few could have predicted how things were going to unfold.
Kentucky center Nerlens Noel, who many projected to be the No. 1 overall pick, fell to New Orleans at No. 6 and was traded to Philadelphia. Kansas swingman Ben McLemore, who many considered a top 3 pick, tumbled to Sacramento at No. 7.
The Pac-12 was one of the night’s biggest winners. The conference had three players — Shabazz Muhammad, Solomon Hill and Andre Roberson — taken in the first round. Four players — Allen Crabbe, Carrick Felix, Grant Jerrett and Arsalan Kazemi — were second-rounders.
Washington’s Abdul Gaddy and Aziz N’Diaye and Washington State’s Brock Motum were not taken.
As the draft neared its end, Siva began to have doubts.
“You start thinking things like am I going to make it?” he said. “Am I going to get picked? What’s going on?”
The 6-foot-1, 181-pound point guard needed to overcome doubts about his size and scoring ability during 11 workouts for NBA teams.
Siva averaged 10 points and 5.7 assists last season, but his biggest attribute was the way he led Louisville to a share of the Big East regular-season title, a Big East Tournament title and the national championship.
“I’m a proven winner and being drafted says I can play with the best of them,” he said. “Detroit saw that in me and I’ll try not to let them down.
“The Pistons are getting a leader and somebody who can make plays for others. Just an all-around hard worker. That’s the only way I know how to play.”
Percy Allen: 206-464-2278 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @percyallen.