The 2017 draft has come and gone, and so have the dreams of Carolina alumni Isiaiah Hicks, Kennedy Meeks, and Nate Britt to be drafted on draft night. While this was not the end of the former Tar Heels’ journey, it certainly isn’t the start that they could have hoped for. In contrast, Justin Jackson became the 17th Tar Heel from the Roy Williams era to be picked in the first round. Tony Bradley became the 18th, which was unexpected for UNC fans given Bradley was projected to go in the second round.
Jackson was the ACC Player of the year and first team All-America, so his first-round status was not a surprise. Jackson was selected No. 15 overall by the Portland Trailblazers, but his rights were traded to the Sacramento Kings after they traded the No. 10 overall pick to Portland for their 15th and 20th picks. Jackson will be joining the Carolina alumn Ty Lawson at the Kings, which creates a UNC point guard and small forward powerhouse over in Sacramento. Forbes released an article projecting first round pick salaries, and Jackson was forecasted to make $5.2 million through his contract after two years, and $12.1 million after four years.
The Utah Jazz had their mind’s set on Tony Bradley, and they traded both their 30 and 42 picks to the Lakers in exchange for the 28th pick in order to secure Bradley. Bradley surprised the Carolina community with his entrance into the draft given he came off of the bench most of his Freshman year behind Kennedy Meeks. Time will tell if this was the right decision for the player, however being a first round pick was uncertain for him, so his future is looking good. Bradley is projected to make $3.1 million in the first two years off of his contract, and $7.7 million after his first four.
As for the UNC players who went undrafted, Meeks and Hicks became undrafted free agents. Kennedy Meeks did not have to wait long after the end of the draft to sign with the Toronto Raptors. Meeks was named by Yahoo Sports as one of the top five best players to go un-drafted, so The Raptors gained a great asset for a much smaller price then Meeks could have been worth. He signed a partially guaranteed contract. Hicks was also rumored to be a potential second round pick. The power forward ended signing with The Clippers. Nate Britt was called to play with the Atlanta Hawks in their summer league, so he too has the potential to end up in the NBA.
All in all, it was a successful year for the Carolina basketball community. To have two players go in the first round is certainly no small feat. To then have 2 more of our players sign is also a big deal. Coming off of a national championship, the Carolina basketball legacy has certainly been upheld by the 2017 NBA class of Tar Heel alumni. The Trailblazers, Jazz, Raptors, and Clippers have certainly gained a few more fans thanks to their 2017 draft picks.
This article is supported and sponsored by Wells Family Dentistry in Raleigh, NC.