2013 NBA Draft: Duke's Mason Plumlee to Nets; UNC's Reggie Bullock to Clippers

acarter@newsobserver.comJune 27, 2013 

During their years in college, Mason Plumlee and Reggie Bullock both watched their share of classmates and teammates move on to the NBA. Finally, though, their time came on Thursday night.

The Brooklyn Nets selected Plumlee, the Duke forward, with the 22nd overall pick in the NBA draft on Thursday. Bullock, the North Carolina guard, had to wait just a little while longer to hear his name called. The Los Angeles Clippers picked him with the 25th overall selection.

Both players had to wait a while relative to where local players have been selected in recent NBA drafts. The draft on Thursday night was the first once since 2000 without a player from Duke, UNC or N.C. State among the top 20 picks.

Plumlee, who earned first-team All-ACC honors during his senior season at Duke, had been projected as a definite first-rounder. Even so, it wasn’t a surprise that he had to wait a while to hear his name called.

Jay Bilas, the ESPN college basketball analyst who was a part of the network’s draft coverage, described Plumlee as the best available player at the time of his selection.

“He’s really worked hard to improve his game,” Bilas said during the ESPN broadcast. “He’s not a natural post player (but) he’s a natural athlete.”

Plumlee, who measured 7-foot-1 during pre-draft workouts, took a path to the NBA that’s becoming less traveled these days. He was the second college senior to be selected on Thursday night.

He averaged a modest 3.7 points and 3.1 rebounds per game during his freshman season, but his year-by-year improvement culminated in a senior season in which he averaged 17.1 points and 9.9 rebounds per game.

Bullock, too, improved significantly during his years with the Tar Heels.

Bullock averaged 13.9 points and 6.5 rebounds per game last season during his junior year. He made 43.6 percent of his 3-point attempts, and his perimeter shooting improved during both his sophomore and junior seasons.

When UNC began using a smaller four-guard lineup in February, Bullock responded well to his increased rebounding responsibility. He had at least nine rebounds in six of UNC’s final 10 games.

“You can put him all over the court, and he’ll make 3s,” Bilas said during the ESPN broadcast. “… I thought he was one of the five best players in the ACC last year, and he can also defend.

“I don’t think he got as much credit for (defense) this past year.”

After Bullock announced his decision to leave school, UNC coach Roy Williams expressed concern publicly about Bullock’s draft prospects. Williams, though, said he was “absolutely thrilled” for Bullock on Thursday night.

“Everyone knows by now that I was a bit scared initially about his decision to enter the draft because the NBA people that I spoke to said he was a borderline first- or second-round pick,” Williams said in a statement that UNC released Thursday night. “Most of them told me they thought he would go in the top of the second round, including the NBA evaluation committee. So that was the cause of my concern for someone I care so much about.

“But the Clippers selecting Reggie in the first round shows everyone how well he performed under pressure in the pre-draft workouts. I take my hat off to him. He earned that first round pick.”

Bullock and Plumlee were the only players from North Carolina schools to be selected in the first round. The Los Angeles Lakers selected Duke forward Ryan Kelly in the second round with the 48th overall pick.

Lorenzo Brown, the N.C. State point guard, went to the Minnesota Timberwolves with the 52nd overall pick. Both Brown and C.J. Leslie, the forward, departed N.C. State after their junior seasons. Both were projected as early- to mid-second round selections but Brown slid toward the bottom of the second round and Leslie wasn’t picked.

Bilas during the ESPN broadcast described Brown as a “first-round talent” but criticized his defense.

“He did not defend with a lot of passion, but really nobody on (N.C. State’s) team did,” Bilas said.

Bullock didn’t attend the draft in Brooklyn, N.Y., but Plumlee did. After NBA Commissioner David Stern announced Plumlee’s name, Plumlee put on a Brooklyn hat and walked across the stage to shake Stern’s hand.

The many Nets fans in attendance cheered his selection and Plumlee greeted former Duke standout Shane Battier, who was covering the draft for ESPN, with a wide smile.

“This is the first time I’ve been to Brooklyn,” Plumlee said during the interview on ESPN. “And it’s been good to me.”

Plumlee became the second member of his family to be selected in the first round. The Indiana Pacers during the 2012 draft selected his brother, Miles, with the 26th overall pick.

Jason Kidd, whom the Brooklyn Nets recently introduced as its head coach, described Plumlee as a “coach’s dream” during an interview with ESPN.

“We got the best player at that spot,” Kidd said during an interview with the network.

College-Pos.-Name; Height/weight; Team; Rd-pick

Duke F Mason Plumlee; 7-1/238; Brooklyn; 1-22

North Carolina G/F Reggie Bullock; 6-7/200; L.A. Clippers; 1-25

Duke F Ryan Kelly; 6-11/228; L.A. Lakers; 2-48

N.C. State G Lorenzo Brown; 6-5/189; Minnesota Timberwolves; 2-52

Carter: 919-829-8944 Twitter: @_andrewcarter

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