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No local players were selected in this year’s edition of the NBA Draft, but Thursday night still brought good news to a fortunate few with area ties.
Portsmouth native Cole Swider agreed to a two-way contract with the Los Angeles Lakers and Providence College wing Justin Minaya accepted a Summer League invitation from the Charlotte Hornets. The Athletic and the New York Daily News, respectively, were first to report those two developments.
Laying the groundwork: Will Portsmouth's Cole Swider land in the NBA? Recent workouts suggest there's a chance.
Cole Swider to Lakers
Swider worked out with more than 10 NBA franchises leading into the draft, and the Lakers were one of three who called him back for a second session. He spent his first three college seasons at Villanova before excelling in an expanded role with Syracuse. Swider averaged 13.9 points and 6.8 rebounds while starting all 33 games for the Orange in 2021-22.
Swider was a decorated recruit out of St. Andrew’s but never secured a definite starting spot with the Wildcats. The 6-foot-9 forward took advantage of the transfer portal to land immediate playing time with Syracuse and posted a strong shooting line – 41.1% from 3-point range and 86.6% from the foul line. Swider collected six double-doubles and played arguably his best game in an overtime loss at eventual national runner-up North Carolina, piling up 36 points on 14-for-21 shooting.
Justin Minaya to Hornets camp
Minaya battled injuries and inconsistency in four seasons at South Carolina before emerging as a defensive stopper for the Friars, who captured their first regular season Big East title and reached the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1997. The 6-foot-7 wing showed an ability to lock up opposing guards and small forwards throughout a 27-6 campaign.
Minaya moved into the starting lineup for good beginning with a Dec. 11 home win over Central Connecticut and led Providence in percentage of minutes played during league action. His list of victims over the course of the season included a host of professional prospects – Jared Rhoden, Julian Champagnie, Aminu Mohammed and Ochai Agbaji all struggled against him. Minaya also steadily improved as a 3-point shooter, connecting at a shade over 35% beginning on Jan. 1.
Tyrese Martin taken by Hawks
University of Rhode Island transfer Tyrese Martin was the lone Big East player selected, as the Connecticut wing heard his name called at No. 51 by the Hawks. Martin left the Rams after two seasons and developed into an NBA talent in Storrs, averaging 13.6 points and 7.5 rebounds while jumping to an even 43.0% from 3-point range in 2021-22. Martin rebounds above his size at 6-foot-6 and shows both a solid motor and versatility on defense.
Vince Williams Jr. was the lone Atlantic 10 player selected, with the VCU wing going off the board to the Grizzlies at No. 47. The left-handed wing improved his shooting numbers throughout his four years in Richmond, checking in at better than 38.5% from 3-point range in each of the last two and better than 79.0% from the foul line in each of the last three. The 6-foot-6 Williams was the second Rams player in as many years to be drafted, joining Nuggets guard Bones Hyland.
No players from the Ivy League or Northeast Conference were selected. The Big Ten led the way with nine players picked, including Iowa forward Keegan Murray at No. 4 overall to the Kings. The SEC was runner-up with eight players tabbed, including Auburn forward Jabari Smith at No. 3 overall.
NBA draft 2022: First-round pick-by-pick analysis and complete results
One other local connection of note? The Cavaliers selected Perth Wildcats guard Luke Travers at No. 56 overall, snagging a 20-year-old from Australia’s National Basketball League. Travers is a teammate of former Friars guard Bryce Cotton, a three-time NBL champion and league Most Valuable Player since signing with the Wildcats from Turkish club Anadolu Efes in January 2017.
On Twitter: @BillKoch25
This article originally appeared on The Providence Journal: 3 players with RI ties land with NBA teams