By Marquis Cooley | Sports editor
Baylor basketball fans had something to celebrate this summer as 2021 National Championship squad Davion Mitchell and Jared Butler were drafted in the 2021 NBA Draft.
Mitchell attended the July 29 draft at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY, with his family as well as Baylor’s men’s basketball head coach Scott Drew. He was first for the Bears being selected with the No. 9 pick by the Sacramento Kings.
With the selection, Mitchell became the first Baylor player to be drafted into the top 10 since Ekpe Udoh in 2010 and only the third in program history.
“I am delighted to be here [in Sacramento]Mitchell said in his introductory press conference. “It’s a blessing to be drafted here. I’m ready to have some fun and hope we can get this team to the playoffs.
While the pick came as a surprise to many at first as the Kings were already loaded with guards like De’Aaron Fox, Tyrese Haliburton and Buddy Hield on the roster, Mitchell said he used to play with multiple guards and that he was ready to get to work. .
“At Baylor, I played with three goalies. I kind of got used to it, ”Mitchell said. “I decide to do whatever it takes to win, and if I had to play with the ball [or] play ball I’m gonna do it, but I’m just excited to be here and play with it [this] great group of guys.
Although Butler was also scheduled to make the first round, he had to wait a little longer than his former teammate as the New Orleans Pelicans selected him in the second round for the Utah Jazz with the No.40 pick in the Draft after making a trade earlier in the night with the Jazz involving their No.30 pick.
“It was a tough night for me,” Butler said during his introductory press conference. “But when the Jazz called me, I was just extremely grateful. This is where I’m meant to be, and I’m just honored for sure.
The Utah Jazz organization also feels it is owned and is delighted to add Butler to the team, with Jazz General Manager Justin Zanik calling the choice “obvious.”
“I’m so glad you guys in the community, town, state got to know him. [Jared] the way we believe in him, not just as a player, but as a person, ”Zanik said. “He’s a special, special guy. … Obviously we have people in the organization who have a lot of connections with Baylor, and it gives us great comfort to have maybe a better [or] just a very, very good impression of him as a player and as a person.
After the draft was over, MaCio Teague and Mark Vital also had the chance to pursue their dreams as Vital signed with the Portland Trail Blazers summer league team and Teague joined Butler in Utah after made a deal with Jazz. This allows him to participate in their training camp while playing on their Summer League and G-League affiliate team.
“It was a great night for Baylor basketball,” said Drew. “All four now have a chance this summer to make their dreams come true by playing in the NBA. Really excited about all of their opportunities.
Mitchell and Teague have both taken the opportunity so far with outstanding performances in the Summer League. Teague impressed the Jazz with his ability to score effectively and be a playmaker, scoring 26 points on 50% shots against the Memphis Grizzlies as well as a double-double in the Summer League Final of Jazz with 17 points and 12 assists, convincing the Jazz to sign him.
Mitchell was the star of the Summer League, leading the Kings to a 6-0 record and the Summer League Championship, making the Kings the first NBA franchise to win multiple Summer League titles. Mitchell has gone on to show why his nickname is “Off-night,” given that the player he keeps ends up having a bad game. He also demonstrated his offensive skills, averaging 13 points per game and four assists.
While it may be a few months before Baylor fans can see them play in an NBA game, they are already making an impact on their respective teams in the offseason.