Former Husker Isaiah Roby was selected with the No. 45 overall pick in the NBA draft Thursday night.
Roby, a 6-foot-8, 215-pound forward, was selected in the second round by the Detroit Pistons, who traded Roby’s draft rights to the Dallas Mavericks. He is the first Husker drafted since Venson Hamilton, who was taken by the Houston Rockets in 1999.
Roby watched the draft from his home in Dixon, Illinois, where he was once a lanky teenager at Dixon High. Roby grew into a four-star prospect, averaging 19.7 points, 10.5 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 3.9 blocks as a high school senior.
He played three seasons at Nebraska under former coach Tim Miles. He averaged 11.8 points, 6.9 rebounds and 1.5 assists as a junior.
Roby worked out with nearly a dozen NBA teams the past few months and was one of 66 players invited to the NBA combine. He was projected to be a mid-to-late second-round pick.
He’s expected to sign a contract ranging between two and four years in length and worth between $3 million and $5 million.
“It’s all been a dream come true,” Roby told The World-Herald a few weeks ago. “I’ve talked to a lot of friends; it’s surreal. You’re living your childhood dreams, and a lot of childhood dreams people don’t get to live. It probably won’t hit me until I get drafted. Just excited for it.”
Roby, caught in the business of draft night, did not return an immediate request for comment.
Roby is the first NBA draft pick coached by Miles. He and assistant Jim Molinari recruited Roby to Lincoln.
Roby struggled through injuries as a freshman but started 13 games as a sophomore in a 22-win season. Roby finished that season scoring in double digits in nine of the final 10 games.
Roby was a key element in Nebraska’s 2018-19 campaign as a junior. He started all 35 games, often playing the full 40 minutes. He spent most of the time as a center, but Roby’s role expanded after forward Isaac Copeland’s season-ending knee injury. Playing the four, where he was more comfortable, Roby finished the season strong, leading Nebraska on a surprising run through the Big Ten tournament and NIT.
Roby averaged 15.5 points and shot 38.9% from 3-point range in his final six games. He scored 23 points with eight rebounds in a comeback win over Iowa in the season finale, held Wisconsin star Ethan Happ to four points in the Big Ten tournament and scored 28 points with eight rebounds in an NIT win over Butler.
“I think he’s gonna be recognized more fondly in 15 years after a long NBA career,” Miles told The World-Herald this week.
Molinari believes Roby’s ceiling could be as high as that of Toronto Raptors forward Pascal Siakam, who was a main piece for the NBA champions, averaging 16.9 points, 6.9 rebounds and 3.1 assists.
“At the end of the day, why wouldn’t you take Isaiah Roby?” Molinari said.
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