From overlooked rookie to playing the NBA. Hamilton-native and former Sir Allan MacNab student Shai Gilgous-Alexander burst onto the college basketball scene this year and translated that to being the 11th overall pick in last night’s NBA draft.
It’s a dream few saw ever materializing, that is, except for Shai himself.
Last night, the city of Hamilton arrived to the NBA.
“The Charlotte Hornets select Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, from Hamilton Canada and the University of Kentucky.”
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander became the first Hamiltonian ever drafted into the NBA, the Charlotte Hornets drafted him 11th overall, only to trade him to the Los Angeles Clippers.
For the 19-year old, all that matters is that now, he’s a pro.
“Being able to play in the NBA in itself is a blessing and something not a lot of kids get to experience and me being one of them is an amazing feeling.”
It’s a moment that almost didn’t happen. Gilgous-Alexander started his freshman season this year with the University of Kentucky on the bench. He’d eventually play himself onto the starting lineup and became the MVP of his league’s championship tournament.
Six months later, he’s in the NBA, something even his high school coach Dwayne Washington at Sir Allan MacNab High School didn’t see coming at first.
“He was short, really short, about 5’8-5’7 but he worked really hard, all I knew is that he was very deliberate y’know he was disciplined and was a great kid other than that I see a lot of kids like that but he stuck with it, it wasn’t in the beginning.”
Last night, the two were sitting together as his name was called out.
Don’t expect Gilgeous-Alexander to rest and relax now that he’s in the NBA. Coach Washington told CHCH that he’s taking a flight back to Hamilton today so that he could get a workout in, and not at a fancy gym with reporters everywhere, but by himself at the court where it all started.
“He comes into town he comes into MacNab all the time he just does that all the time, then he’ll leave Sunday.”
In a year that’s seen Gilgous-Alexander and St. Thomas More grad Kia Nurse elevate to the pros, 2018 has been all about Hamilton basketball.
“For Hamilon with Kia and Shai, I think just the same year for Hamilton that’s huge for kids.”
And according to Coach Dwayne Washington, this recent talent surge isn’t a flash in the pan.
“We do have some kids that are more talented than Shai that are coming up, the next generation will always y’know they have more resources they can see the videos, they can believe.”
Gilgous-Alexander wasn’t the only Canadian drafted last night. Toronto-native was drafted 43-rd overall by the Denver Nuggets, while it would have been nice to see him team up with fellow Canadian Jamal Murray, he was traded to the Orlando Magic.