Syracuse Basketball: Elijah Hughes picked in NBA Draft’s second round

Former Syracuse basketball star Elijah Hughes is selected No. 39 overall in this year’s NBA Draft.

Not too long before midnight during the second round of the 2020 NBA Draft on Wednesday, former Syracuse basketball player Elijah Hughes became the latest Orange guy to get taken in the annual event.

The New Orleans Pelicans chose Hughes at No. 39 overall, or No. 9 in the second round, and that pick reportedly got made for the Utah Jazz, according to various media reports.

The 6-foot-6 Hughes, a talented and versatile forward, transferred to the Hill after starting his collegiate career at East Carolina, where he played his freshman season in 2016-17.

He had to sit out the 2017-18 stanza for the Orange, when the ‘Cuse went on a surprising journey to the Sweet 16. Hughes was one of the four main contributors for the team in 2018-19, as Syracuse basketball reached the NCAA Tournament but fell in the round of 64 to Baylor.

Finally, in 2019-20, Hughes’ redshirt-junior campaign, he took the squad on his back and put forth one of the best all-around performances in recent program history.

The Beacon, N.Y., native averaged 19.0 points, 4.9 rebounds and 3.4 assists per contest, while shooting 42.6 percent from the field, 34.1 percent from beyond the arc, and 81.3 percent from the free-throw line. Hughes averaged 36.7 minutes a game, as the Orange registered a somewhat pedestrian 18-14 overall record.

In leading the Atlantic Coast Conference in scoring during 2019-20, he got named to the All-ACC first team. If the ‘Cuse had produced a better season in 2019-20, I believe that Hughes would have more significantly contended for the ACC Player of the Year award, as well as All-American squads.

Leading up to the 2020 NBA Draft, the almost universal consensus was that Hughes would get chosen. It became a question of where he would go, not if he would be selected.

Some mock drafts had Hughes hearing his name called in the late first round, but most prognostications from analysts and other pundits forecast him to go in the middle or latter part of the second round.

The Orange has often fared well in the NBA Draft, albeit not over the past few years. From 2007 to 2017, Syracuse basketball had a player taken in the NBA Draft in 10 out of 11 years, although no Orange guy got selected in 2018 or 2019.

In the 2017 NBA Draft, the Utah Jazz picked former ‘Cuse star Tyler Lydon, a power forward, with the No. 24 selection in the first round, although Utah then traded him to the Denver Nuggets in a draft-night deal.

A huge congrats to Elijah, whom I expect to shine in the NBA!