Georgia’s Nicolas Claxton was drafted by Brooklyn Nets with the first pick of the second round of the 2019 NBA Draft on Thursday night at the Barclays Center.
“It’s been my dream my whole life just to be here,” Claxton said. “It just feels surreal right now to be here. I just want to show people I can play. A lot of people think I’m a project. I just want to show people that I can play and go out there and contribute in a major way.”
Claxton is the Bulldogs’ 36th all-time NBA Draft pick. He declared for the draft following a breakout sophomore season at Georgia.
“We are all very happy for Nic,” head coach Tom Crean said. “Being drafted by an organization on the upswing like the Brooklyn Nets that is so well run by Sean Marks and well coached by Kenny Atkinson will be tremendous for Nic. Personally, I was hopeful he’d go to an organization that was totally committed to player development, and that’s definitely the case with Brooklyn.”
After averaging 3.9 points and 3.9 rebounds with one double-digit scoring performance as a freshman, Claxton averaged team highs of 13.0 points and 8.6 boards while accumulating 21 double-figure scoring outputs and 12 double-doubles as a sophomore. He also led Georgia in both blocks (81) and steals (34) and finished second in assists (58). Claxton finished the campaign ranked No. 10 nationally in blocked shots (2.4 bpg).
Ironically, Claxton heard his name called at the Barclays Center, the Nets’ arena that will now be his home.
“I was here two of three weeks ago on a visit and worked out for the team,” Claxton said. “I really enjoyed it. To be picked here is a blessing, and I’m ready to get to work for Brooklyn. I feel like God, he already has everything planned out for me. I’m just following his footsteps.”
Claxton had approximately 30 family and friends in the crowd.
“It means the world to me,” Claxton said. “They’ve always been my support system. They’re my reason to keep going and stay positive.”
Claxton established career highs in every stat during the 2018-19 season, including 25 points at Florida, 15 rebounds against Kennesaw State, six assists at Georgia Tech, six blocks versus Georgia Tech, Auburn and Missouri and three steals against Texas. He ranked No. 1 in the SEC in blocks (2.4 bpg), as well as No. 3 in rebounds (8.6 rpg) and and No. 16 in minutes played (31.6 mpg).
Among Georgia’s single-season records, Claxton produced tallies that rank No. 6 in blocked shots (81), No. 13 in total rebounds (274) and No. 23 in rebound average (8.6) during his sophomore year. Though only playing two seasons with the Bulldogs, Claxton ranks No. 8 on Georgia’s ledger of career blocked shots leaders with 123.
Claxton was named second-team All-SEC by league coaches and to the SEC Academic Honor Roll last season. His father, Charles, also was an All-SEC performer for the Bulldogs in the early 1990s. The Claxtons became just the second father-son All-SEC tandem in league history along with Vanderbilt’s Frank and Luke Kornet.
Charles was drafted in the second round of the 1994 NBA Draft by the Phoenix Suns and eventually played with the Boston Celtics. The Claxtons are the third family duo in Georgia Basketball history to reach the NBA, joining Dominique Wilkins and his nephew, Damien, and brothers Alec and Chad Kessler.
Dominique Wilkins was the No. 3 overall player selected in the 1982 draft by the Utah Jazz. He was then traded to Atlanta, where he played the majority of his hall-of-fame career with the Hawks. Damien Wilkins played in the NBA for 10 seasons after signing with Seattle as a free agent in 2004. He went on to also play for Oklahoma City, Minnesota, Atlanta, Detroit, Philadelphia and Indiana.
Alec Kessler was taken by Houston in the first round of the 1990 Draft, while Chad was selected by the L.A. Clippers in the fifth round in 1987.
Claxton becomes Crean’s 14th NBA player. Crean coached 13 players who went on to play in the NBA during his tenures at Marquette and Indiana. Nine of those players were on opening day rosters to begin the 2018-19 season, most notably Dwyane Wade of the Miami Heat and Victor Oladipo of the Indiana Pacers.