The NBA Draft is where we can see the league’s future superstars. JBL Audio’s Full Court Press a panel discussion held at the Harmon Electronics Store on Madison Avenue was hosted by ESPN’s Jay Williams. NBA draft prospects Ja Morant and Jarrett Culver, Detroit Pistons All-Star Andre Drummond and New York Liberty guard Kia Nurse were all in attendance. The panel discussed the pre-draft process, life as a professional athlete and some of the tools needed to succeed at the professional level.
For both Culver and Morant, they won’t be waiting long to hear their names called Thursday night at the Barclays Center. According to several mock NBA draft boards, both are projected to be taken within the first five picks. Culver, a prototypical 6’6 guard jumped on to scouts radars during his sophomore campaign at Texas Tech as he led the Red Raiders to their first Final Four appearance in school history. Culver also made the AP All-America team and was named the Big 12 Player of the Year.
“It’s a dream come true. I’m just blessed to be in this opportunity,” said Culver. “To see that all my family is here and my parents are good, is truly a blessing.”
Morant played alongside Duke superstar and projected No. 1 overall pick Zion Williamson during their AAU days in their home state of South Carolina. Morant wasn’t the highly touted recruit Williamson was; he had only about 13 offers while Williamson had over 30. As an underrated high school prospect, the same story followed Morant to Murray State, where he played collegiate ball. As a sophomore, he averaged 24.5 points and 10.5 assists per game, a stat in which he led the country.
“To coming from under the radar and now receiving all this attention. It’s crazy,” said Morant. “I’m not used to all of this, but this is something i’ve been working my whole life to get.”
Morant is from Dalzell, South Carolina a small town of nearly 3,000 people. As a child, Morant’s mother and family would have other kids over in his backyard, playing pick-up basketball until late at night. The family values he has from his time in Dalzell and the humbling experiences he had are some of the things he’ll take with him to the next level.
“From almost sunup to sundown, we’ll be out there balling. Sometimes until my parents would call me into the house to eat dinner,” said Morant. “That’s how much I love the game.”
When Thursday night arrives, the life of these two athletes will never be the same. Being selected as a first round pick is not something all players can say they were. Morant is projected to go to the Memphis Grizzlies with the No. 2 pick. When Morant was asked what it would like to play in Madison Square Garden, he simply said “I guess you’d have to come and find out yourself.”