Georgia sophomore Nicolas Claxton (33) grins as he makes a dunk. The University of Georgia men’s basketball hosted LSU on Feb 16th, 2019 in Athens, Georgia to be narrowly defeated with a final score of 83-79. (Photo/ Kathryn Skeean)

At the 2019 NBA Draft on Thursday night, the Brooklyn Nets selected former Georgia basketball player Nicolas Claxton with the 31st pick.

After an impressive pre-draft performance, the sophomore center was viewed as mid-to-late first round pick, but fell to the first pick of the second round.

“I just want to show people I can play,” Claxton said. “A lot of people think I’m a project. I just want to show people that I can play and go out there and contribute in a major way.”

Claxton is the 36th Georgia player to be selected in the history of the NBA Draft, and head coach Tom Crean’s 14th NBA player — joining future Hall of Famer Dwyane Wade and All-Star Victor Oladipo.

“We are all very happy for Nic,” Crean said. “Being drafted by an organization on the upswing like the Brooklyn Nets that is so well run by Sean Marks and well coached by Kenny Atkinson will be tremendous for Nic. Personally, I was hopeful he’d go to an organization that was totally committed to player development, and that’s definitely the case with Brooklyn.”

After averaging 3.9 points a game in his freshman year, Claxton broke out this past season. The 20-year old averaged team highs of 13.0 points and 8.6 boards, while also accumulating 21 double-figure scoring outputs and 12 double-doubles last season.

In Brooklyn, New York — the location of Thursday’s draft and new home of Claxton — approximately 30 friends and family were in the crowd waiting to cheer on Claxton when his name was called.

“It means the world to me,” Claxton said. “They’ve always been my support system. They’re my reason to keep going and stay positive.”

Nicolas is the second Claxton to be drafted following his father, Charles, who was an All-SEC player for the Bulldogs in the early ‘90s and was drafted in the second round of the 1994 NBA Draft by the Phoenix Suns.

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