Baylor's Sochan, Ohio State's Branham to Spurs in NBA draft
By RAUL DOMINGUEZ
SAN ANTONIO (AP) The San Antonio Spurs chose Baylor forward Jeremy Sochan with the ninth overall pick, Ohio State guard Malaki Branham with the 20th selection and Notre Dame's Blake Wesley at No. 25 in the NBA draft on Thursday night.
The trio of 19-year-olds all spent one season in college before heading to the pros.
A 6-foot-9 forward, Sochan averaged 9.2 points and 6.4 rebounds and he provides size and defense in the frontcourt for the undersized Spurs. Sochan became the youngest player ever on the Polish national team when he played in a EuroBasket 2022 qualifier.
"I feel like I'll be able to bring it every day on the defensive side," Sochan said. "On the ball, off the ball, switching. I feel like I'm also a good communicator, so I feel like I'll be able to do that straight when."
Branham averaged 13.7 points, 3.6 rebounds and two assists per game in his only season with the Buckeyes. A 6-5 guard, he was named the Big Ten freshman of the year. Also a 6-5 guard, Wesley averaged 14.4 points, 3.7 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game for the Fighting Irish.
Sochan, Branham and Wesley join a franchise rebuilding after being the league's winningest team over two decades. San Antonio qualified for a league record 22 straight postseasons beginning in 1998. The Spurs won five NBA championships over that span with stars such as Tim Duncan, David Robinson, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili player under Gregg Popovich.
After missing the postseason the past two seasons, Popovich and the Spurs are attempting to reinvigorate their franchise behind All-Star Dejounte Murray, Keldon Johnson, Devin Vassell, Josh Primo and now Sochan, Branham and Wesley.
"I think it's really exciting," Sochan said. "From what I've heard, they all really want to work hard. I feel like I can fit really well. I'm going to be a sponge. There's a lot of history with the Spurs and I just want to win."
Born in Guymon, Oklahoma, Sochan spent much of his life in England before committing to Baylor in 2020.
Sochan was San Antonio's sixth lottery selection since it began in 1985, the fewest in the league ahead of the Los Angeles Lakers (seven) and Houston (10).
It was the first time the Spurs had three first-round picks in the same draft in the franchise's 50-year history in San Antonio. San Antonio also had the 38th pick in the second round.
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Updated June 23, 2022