SOUTHINGTON, Conn. (WFRV) – For perhaps the first time in Northeast Wisconsin history, a local basketball product has a chance to go in the top 10 picks of the NBA Draft.
Tyrese Haliburton, an Oshkosh North grad and former Iowa State standout, is widely projected to hear his name called within the first 8-10 picks of the first round.
As of Tuesday, CBS Sports projected Haliburton as the sixth overall pick to the Atlanta Hawks.
In a year with the Draft taking place six months later than usual, it’s been a long offseason for college basketball players after having their season unceremoniously cut short by the coronavirus pandemic.
However, players with Haliburton’s self-discipline and work ethic are at an advantage despite the adverse circumstances.
“I really love the game of basketball,” Haliburton said. “I’m obsessed with it, so I spend a lot of time watching film, or in the gym, just doing something that’s basketball related.
“I think that separates me. At the same time, I really truly feel like I’m the best facilitator in the Draft, the best shooter in the draft, and one of the highest basketball IQs.
“Obviously I have that confidence in myself, that’s what separates me, but I’m not the one that makes the decision.”
The Minnesota Timberwolves have the first pick in Wednesday’s draft, which starts at 7 p.m. on ESPN. Minnesota is widely expected to take Georgia guard Anthony Edwards with the No. 1 pick, but the T-Wolves aren’t the only guard-needy team in the top 10.
After point guard LaMelo Ball, several guard-needy teams sit in the top 10, including Atlanta at No. 6, Detroit at No. 7, and New York at No. 8.
If Haliburton falls lower than that, almost all projections expect him to be picked before the teens in a “Best Available Player” selection. Washington, Phoenix and San Antonio have all shown interest in Haliburton.
Regardless of where the star point guard hears his name called, Haliburton plans to bring the same level of energy and commitment he’s had for basketball his whole life.
“You know, just doing what got me here,” Haliburton said of his Draft preparation process. “Spent a lot of time in the gym. Working out three times a day, twice on the court, once in the weight room.
“So, really just attacking it that way. I think I’ve gotten really good words of wisdom from former NBA players. Just having constant conversations and watching film. Doing everything I can to work on the little things, and fine tune everything.”