NEW YORK — The Philadelphia area’s influence will be significant during the NBA draft Thursday night, with two former high school stars likely to be taken in the first 10 selections.
Virginia’s De’Andre Hunter and Duke’s Cam Reddish both smiled when it was mentioned that the Philadelphia area will be well-represented. Hunter, who is from Northeast Philadelphia, starred for Friends’ Central. Reddish hails from Norristown and was a standout for the Westtown School. Friends’ Central and Westtown play in the Friends Schools League
“It is great having someone else from the area being able to achieve their dream," Hunter said Wednesday morning in a media session for expected high draft picks at the Grand Hyatt. "I played against Cam multiple times, and just seeing him here is crazy to see.”
Hunter is usually calm, but he was anything but that on the eve of the draft.
“It is really exciting but kind of nerve-racking,” Hunter said. “I don’t know where I am going [to be drafted], and I am ready for [Thursday] to see where I am headed.”
Reddish wasn’t feeling too nervous just yet.
“Right now, I am pretty calm,” he said. “I am sure tomorrow there will be a lot of butterflies, and I am looking forward to the moment.”
The 6-foot-7 Hunter’s stock received a big boost when he helped Virginia win the NCAA championship, scoring 27 points in the Cavaliers’ 85-77 overtime win over Texas Tech in the final.
This season, as a redshirt sophomore, he averaged 15.2 points and shot 43.8 percent from three-point range. Even more important, Hunter is valued for his defensive ability after being named the Atlantic Coast Conference’s defensive player of the year.
“I am just a versatile player, a guy who can play a lot of positions,” he said. “I take pride in my defense, and I am a guy who can score on the other end.”
Hunter was tight-lipped about which teams he worked out for, but he said it wasn’t many. He did confirm that he worked out for Atlanta, and did not work out for the New York Knicks, who have the third pick, and New Orleans, which selects first and fourth. The Pelicans are receiving the fourth pick in the Anthony Davis trade that won’t be official until next month.
Reddish, who is 6-8, averaged 13.5 points, 3.7 rebounds and 1.6 steals last season as a Duke freshman. He shot 33.3 percent from three-point range for a team that saw its season end with a 68-67 loss to Michigan State in the East Regional final.
Reddish didn’t work out for any teams because he had core surgery earlier this month. “The physical therapy is going well,” he said.
Reddish did meet with the New York Knicks, Los Angeles Lakers, Chicago Bulls, Atlanta Hawks, and Cleveland Cavaliers.
One topic addressed in interviews with teams was a reputation for not always playing with fire.
“I think it is my demeanor. It is kind of calm, and people don’t necessarily expect that,” Reddish said. “… I am extremely aggressive and ready to fight and play.”
He said having his motor questioned bothered him.
“Of course,” Reddish said. “I hear it all the time and it motivates me every day, and I am definitely ready to get started.”
So is Hunter.