Forward Saddiq Bey, one of the most improved players in the country from his freshman to his sophomore season at Villanova, was selected Wednesday night in the first round of the NBA Draft, going to the Brooklyn Nets with the 19th pick.

Just before the selection was announced, ESPN reported that Bey will be going to the Detroit Pistons are part of a three-team trade involving the Nets and the Los Angeles Clippers.

The 6-foot-8 Bey averaged 16.1 points for the Wildcats last season, a major increase from his 8.2-point average as a freshman, and also finished fourth in the nation in three-point shooting at 45.1% for a team that compiled a 24-7 record before the pandemic shut down the season.

He won the Julius Erving Award as the nation’s best small forward, earned unanimous first-team All-Big East recognition and was named an honorable mention All-America by the Associated Press.

“Saddiq has a unique combination of being ready to play with a great basketball IQ, but he also really has an upside,” Villanova coach Jay Wright said on the program’s web site. “I think Detroit is getting a good young player who is going to be ready to play right away. I believe he’s a guy who will grow into a terrific player.”

Villanova's Saddiq Bey averaged 16.1 points for the Wildcats last season.
John Minchillo / AP
Villanova's Saddiq Bey averaged 16.1 points for the Wildcats last season.

Bey earned a reputation at Villanova for his versatility at both ends of the floor, with an ability to play four positions on offense and guard those same four positions on defense. He usually had the ball in his hands at crunch time, and often was assigned to guard the opponent’s best player.

Bey is the seventh Villanova player in the last four years to be drafted and the fifth in the first round. He is the second-highest pick behind Mikal Bridges, who was taken No. 10 in the 2018 draft.

During a June interview, Bey said he has spoken with almost all of the other six.

“I think that’s kind of what makes the bond great within our culture, that with different classes, we can talk to each other and give each other advice,” he said. “They’ve helped me along the way, gave me both sides to every situation, and tried to make it easier for me.”

When he came to the Main Line with his recruiting class of 2019, Bey actually was the lowest ranked of the four new players, getting a 3-star rating from 247Sports. But he learned the Villanova system quickly and started the last 20 games, averaging 8.2 points and 5.1 rebounds.