Syracuse Orange forward Elijah Hughes’s NBA dream becomes a reality. On Wednesday night, the former ECU transfer was selected with the ninth pick in the 2nd round (39th overall) by the New Orleans Pelicans — who then shipped him off to the Utah Jazz.
Hughes began his college career at East Carolina in 2016-17 averaging 7.8 points per game, 1.3 assists per game, and 2.3 rebounds per game. After sitting out a year due to transfer rules, he averaged 13.7 PPG, 1.5 APG, and 4.3 RPG for the Orange in 2018-19. This past season is when he broke out, however — averaging 19.0 PPG, 3.4 APG, AND 4.9 RPG. He secured the ACC’s leading scorer title before the season was cut short due to COVID-19.
This was a vital year for the 6’6” wing. Hughes showed that he could get buckets on a consistent basis, improve his outside shooting (which critics did not expect him to do), and more importantly, lead a team resurgence after rough start to the year for Syracuse.
Now, with the Jazz, he’ll have a chance to show more of what he can do. Arguably, the Pelicans were a better fit given their youth and long-term plans for contention, as well as the overall roster make-up. The Jazz, meanwhile, believe they are contending right now and already appear loaded with players at the two and three (the positions where Hughes could slot in). Donovan Mitchell and Bojan Bogdanovic are locked in at their respective spots, and Joe Ingles and Royce O’Neale would also appear in front of him right now, before the team potentially makes any other additions this offseason.
Elijah Hughes made a statement last season and now it’s paid off. You love to see hard work get rewarded, especially for an Orange player. Congrats, Elijah! Looking forward to watching you in the Association.