James Ennis became the first Long Beach State basketball player taken in the National Basketball Association’s annual draft in 15 years when he was selected by the Atlanta Hawks in this year’s 2nd round.
Ennis was selected with the 50th overall pick by Atlanta and later traded to the recently crowned champions of the league, Miami Heat. The defending Big West Player of the Year will take his talents to South Beach and team up with NBA superstars Lebron James and Dwyane Wade as the Heat seek a third consecutive championship.
Miami traded away a future second-round pick in order to secure the draft rights of Ennis, whom insiders say they hope can be a contributor off the bench. On the team’s NBA.com page, team president Pat Riley spoke how excited the team was to land his services.
“We were happy to get into the draft,” Riley said. “We feel that James Ennis, with his size and athleticism, has a huge upside and someone we hope can develop into a high-quality NBA player.”
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Ennis was also named a finalist for the Lou Henson Award which is given annually to the country’s top mid-major player.
By being drafted, Ennis became the 26th basketball player in the history of the school to be selected by the professional organization and the first since Andrew Betts was taken in the second round by the then-Charlotte Hornets franchise.
Forty-niner Head Coach Dan Monson spoke of the opportunity awaiting Ennis in a post from the school’s athletic site.
“I think it’s a great honor for James,” Monson said. “All of the hard work and sacrifices he made for us have paid off and his chance is well deserved. I’m thrilled for him personally and it’s tremendous for our program and the university.”
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