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Paolo Banchero makes history as Duke’s fifth No. 1 draft pick


Paolo Banchero etched his name in NBA history Thursday night when he became the fifth Blue Devil Duke selected first overall in the repechage.

Duke had the most No. 1 picks of any school in the country entering the night and added to that with Banchero going to Orlando Magic.

Banchero is coming off a great freshman season at Durham where he was named the 2021-22 ACC Rookie of the Year, ACC All-Freshman Team, All-ACC First Team, All-Tournament First Team -ACC, ACC leader in points scored (671) and field goals (245) and NCAA Second Team All-America.

Before Banchero, Duke saw Sion Williamson (2019), Kyrie Irving (2011), Elton Brand (1999) and Art Heyman (1963) all took first place.

Sion Williamson

Written by the New Orleans Pelicans in 2019, Zion Williamson established himself as the top college basketball player in 2018-19. He was named the 2018-19 Naismith Award winner, AP Player of the Year, ACC All-Defense, All-ACC, First Team All-American, and ACC Tournament MVP.

He also didn’t slow down once he hit NBA hardwood. In his first NBA game, he scored 17 straight points in just over three minutes of fourth quarter playing time. Williamson has scored at least 20 points in four straight games, the longest streak of any rookie this season. He also tied the longest streak in Pelicans franchise history, scoring at least 20 points in six of his first eight games.

Williamson averaged over 25 points per game and became the first teenager in NBA history to score at least 20 points in 10 straight games. At the end of his rookie season, he was named to the 2021 NBA All-Star and All-NBA Rookie First Team.

Kyrie Irving

When Kyrie Irving was drafted in 2011, it seemed like an anomaly to the average NBA fan, but Cleveland knew the type of player he was.

Irving only played nine regular season games at Duke before injuring his toe and did not play again until the playoffs where Duke fell to Sweet 16 for Arizona. Irving scored 28 points in what turned out to be his last game for the Blue Devils.

Irving has become a true NBA superstar. He was named the 2011-12 NBA Rookie of the Year, 2014 All-Star Game MVP, three-time All-NBA and seven-time NBA All-Star. In 2016, he hit the NBA championship-winning 3-pointer to lift the Cavaliers. golden state with less than a minute to play.

Brand Elton

The Chicago Bulls selected Elton Brand in 1999 after a two-year career at Duke. His second season was his best by far when he was named First Team All-ACC, ACC Player of the Year, First Team All-American and 1999 ACC Tournament MVP.

His 17-year NBA playing career was highlighted by 1999-2000 NBA Co-Rookie of the Year honors with Steve Francis of the Houston Rocketshe was a two-time All-Star and 2005-06 All-NBA 2nd Team.

Art Heyman

The first Blue Devil drafted first overall was Art Heyman. The New York Knicks selected the 6-foot-5 striker after leading Duke to its first Final Four in 1963.

Some say Heyman is responsible for Duke becoming a basketball powerhouse. He was named second-team All-American in 1961-62, first-team All-American in 1962-63, All-ACC in every year of his Duke career, 1963 ACC Tournament MVP and MVP of the 1963 NCAA Tournament.

His NBA career did not last long. In 1967, Heyman moved to the American Basketball Association and helped the Pittsburgh Pipers win the league’s first championship in 1968.


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