Paolo Banchero, who played at O’Dea High School, was the first overall pick in the 2022 NBA draft on Thursday. 

Banchero, who was selected by the Orlando Magic, attended Duke University for the 2021-22 season before declaring for the NBA draft. The 6-foot-10, 250-pound forward was integral to Duke’s Final Four run in coach Mike Krzyzewski’s final season before retirement by averaging 17.2 points and 7.8 rebounds per game.

Banchero was projected as the No. 3 pick by many draft gurus but leapfrogged Gonzaga’s Chet Holmgren and Auburn’s Jabari Smith.

“I want to take Seattle wherever I go,” Banchero said in a prerecorded video that aired during the broadcast of the draft. He also referenced his tattoos of the Seattle skyline and 41st Ave. and S. Andover St. signs, which pay homage to where he grew up

Holmgren, the Gonzaga forward, was taken with the No. 2 overall pick by the Oklahoma City Thunder. 

Tari Eason and MarJon Beauchamp rounded out the Seattle-area players taken in the first round, with Eason going No. 17 to the Houston Rockets and Beauchamp at No. 24 to the Milwaukee Bucks.

Advertising

Eason was the SEC’s Sixth Man of the Year at LSU last season, while Beauchamp took an uncommon path by attending Yakima Valley College before earning a spot in the NBA’s G League.

At O’Dea, Banchero led the Fighting Irish to a Class 3A state title as a sophomore in 2019 and as the state runners-up as a junior the next year. He averaged 22.6 points, 11.0 rebounds and 3.7 assists during his junior year. Banchero was the No. 3 overall prospect in the nation for the Class of 2021, according to ESPN’s rankings. 

He also had a brief stint for O’Dea’s football team as the quarterback during his freshman year, joking recently on Twitter that sometimes he wishes he “didn’t grow past 6-foot-4.”

Banchero’s parents were athletes at the University of Washington. His mother, Rhonda Smith-Banchero, set the all-time scoring mark for the women’s basketball program, and his father, Mario Banchero, played tight end for the football team. 

“(Seattle) is on my mind a lot. Before every game, I know the whole city is watching,” Banchero said amid Duke’s March Madness run. “Friends, family — I know they’re proud.” 

Eason also grew up in the Seattle-area and attended Garfield High School for three of four years (he spent his junior year at Federal Way High School). During his senior year at Garfield in 2019-20, he helped his team to the Class 3A state championship, beating Banchero’s Fighting Irish, while averaging 23 points, 8 rebounds, 3 steals and 1.4 blocks per game. He earned state tournament MVP honors.

Advertising

Eason attended Cincinnati during his freshman year and transferred to LSU before this last season.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the Rockets consider Eason to be the best defender in the draft, and selected him because of his abilities to switch and play with aggression.

Beauchamp’s path to his first-round selection by the Bucks was more unorthodox. It started in his hometown, Yakima, where he played AAU basketball. He was part of state and national titles at Nathan Hale during his freshman year and moved to Garfield, where he won another state title as a sophomore. He moved to Rainier Beach High School for his junior season before playing his senior season at Dream City Christian School in Glendale, Arizona — his fourth high school in four years.

Despite Division-I recruiting offers, he joined a program designed to get players ready for the NBA draft without attending college. But when the pandemic struck, the program was shut down. 

After playing at Yakima Valley College, he accepted an offer to play for the G League’s Ignite in September. There, he averaged 15.1 points, 7.3 rebounds and 2.3 assists and climbed up NBA mock draft boards. Beauchamp was the 20th and final player invited to sit in the green room at the NBA draft in Brooklyn.

“Everything I had to go through, all the adversity, nobody believed in me, and this is special,” a teary-eyed Beauchamp said on the ABC broadcast moments after being selected. “I’m a warrior; you can just throw me out there, and I’m going to figure it out.”

Advertising

And like Banchero, Holmgren entered the NBA draft after a one-and-done season at Gonzaga. He was the nation’s No. 1 prospect in his class out of high school, and averaged 14.1 points, 9.9 rebounds and 3.5 blocks during his season with the Bulldogs. 

“It’s a mix of a thousand emotions, and yet I have zero words to explain it,” Holmgren said on the broadcast.

Three Seattle-area players were also selected in the first round of 2020s draft: Washington Huskies’ Isaiah Stewart and Jaden McDaniels, as well as San Diego State’s Malachi Flynn, who previously played at Washington State and Tacoma’s Bellarmine Prep. 

“It seems like every few years, Seattle has some of the best players in the country and this is another one of those years,” college basketball analyst Eldridge Recasner told The Seattle Times before the draft. 

Notes

  • Gonzaga’s guard Andrew Nembhard kicked off the second round by going with the No. 31 pick to the Indiana Pacers.