Oregon guard Chris Duarte has been drafted 13th overall by the Indiana Pacers in the first round of the 2021 NBA Draft. Duarte is the highest draft pick from Oregon since Luke Jackson was selected 10th overall by the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2004, and also the first lottery pick of the Dana Altman era.
Duarte, 24, is originally from the Dominican Republic and moved to the United States to continue his basketball career at Redemption Christian Academy in New York. Even with offers from Syracuse, Seton Hall, Hofstra, and Western Kentucky he eventually landed at Northwest Florida State, where he shined in two seasons and eventually found himself with more opportunities at the Division 1 level.
The guard joined the Ducks as a junior college transfer from Northwest Florida State in 2018. He quickly became one of the top players for Dana Altman in 2020 prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. He returned in 2020-21 to lead the Ducks to a regular season Pac-12 Championship and a Sweet 16 appearance. He won AP Pac-12 Player of the Year honors while averaging 17.1 points shooting 53% and 42% from three.
Duarte was reportedly highly sought over in this draft, according to Chad Ford the New York Knicks were “aggressively trying to move up” to get Duarte. Other teams known to have interest were the Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Lakers.
This is the fifth straight season the Oregon Men’s basketball has produced an NBA draft pick. In 2017 former Ducks Jordan Bell (Warriors), Tyler Dorsey (Atlanta Hawks), Damyean Dotson (Knicks), and Dillon Brooks (Memphis Grizzlies) were all drafted. In 2018, Troy Brown Jr. went to the Washington Wizards.
In 2019 Bol Bol was selected by the Denver Nuggets, and last year Payton Pritchard was drafted by the Boston Celtics.
Duarte is a likely candidate to play in the NBA Summer League, which starts August 8 in Las Vegas.
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