Pacers Draft T.J. Leaf with 18th Overall Pick

Editor’s Note: As the 2017 NBA Draft unfolded, Pacers.com’s Wheat Hotchkiss kept a running blog on this page throughout the 2017 NBA Draft. Re-live Draft Night below.

12:45 AM: That’s it for now. Leaf will be in Indiana tomorrow afternoon for his introductory press conference, so be sure to check back in right here at Pacers.com. We will stream both his press conference and a Q&A with Pacers fans live on Facebook, so be sure to tune in.

12:30 AM: One more move for the Pacers, who acquired Edmond Sumner, the 52nd overall pick, from New Orleans for cash considerations. Sumner, a 6-5 point guard, averaged 15.0 points, 5.0 assists, and 1.3 steals per game as a sophomore.

12:10 AM: Pritchard said T.J. Leaf is “kind of that new age 4” with versatile offensive game to contribute in all facets. He said Leaf’s agent kept telling franchise during pre-draft process that Leaf really want to be drafted by Indiana.

12:05 PM: Pritchard called Anigbogu an “elite shot-blocker” and “physical specimen.” Said he can bring needed toughness to team. Was stunned he was still on the board at 47.

12:00 AM: Pacers President of Basketball Operations addressing media now. Pritchard addresses when the team might trade All-Star forward Paul George. Pritchard confirmed George’s agent informed him he wants to leave Indiana.

“We’re not going to make a bad deal,” Pritchard said. “We’re going to get what we want…we’re going to do something we feel comfortable with.”

Pritchard called it “a little bit of a gut punch” that George decided he wanted to leave, but is still very excited about how draft unfolded and future of franchise. Said both Leaf and Anigbogu fell further than team expected.

11:50 PM: With the 47th pick, Indiana has drafted Ike Anigbogu, center from UCLA. So Pacers take two freshmen from the same school in the draft.

Here’s what I wrote on Anigbogu after his workout in May:

“Anigbogu’s age and length make him an intriguing option for NBA teams. Anigbogu was one of the youngest players in college basketball this season and doesn’t turn 19 until Oct. 16, making him younger than many seniors in high school.

Even more enticing to scouts are Anigbogu’s measurements. While he measured out at just 6-9 3/4, tied for 14th tallest among players at the NBA Draft Combine, Anigbogu has a staggering 7-6 1/4 wingspan, the second longest of any player in Chicago.

For perspective, current Pacers center Myles Turner measured out at 6-11 1/2 with a 7-4 wingspan at the combine two years ago.” Read More »

Anigbogu’s Workout Interview »

11:30 PM: Still waiting to see who the Pacers take with their second-round pick. Indiana owns the 47th overall selection. We’re seven picks away.

11:05 PM: Leaf now on a conference call with the local media here in Indianapolis. He says he will be wearing the number 22 as a rookie with the Pacers.

He worked out for 11 teams and was very excited to get drafted by the Pacers because he has “Indiana roots” with both of his parents being from the state.

Leaf says Pacers have “great coach, great organization, and a lot talent.” He mentioned several players on roster, including Lance Stephenson and Thaddeus Young. He said he is planning to play for the Pacers in the Orlando Summer League, which begins in a little over a week.

10:55 PM: Video interview with Leaf is now posted. Watch Now »

Some other quotes from Leaf, provided by the NBA.

On being drafted: “I just want to thank the Lord. Without Him I wouldn’t be here. Yeah, I’m super excited. I just think my ability to stretch the floor and pass, I think will be a really good complement to Myles (Turner) in the post.

On how he fits with Pacers: “I think I’m going to come in and get to work right away. That’s the thing with me. I’m going to work. And I think I’m going to become a very good player. I’m just excited to get out there and start working with all the guys and develop relationships with them.

On playing with Myles Turner: “I’ve known Myles for a little bit, so it’s just really exciting. He’s so talented, so young. So it’s going to be a lot of fun playing with him, a guy who’s already got his foot in the door pretty deep for a guy who’s only about to be in his third year.”

10:40 PM: Have an interview of Leaf at the draft coming soon courtesy of our own Greg Rappaport. Stay tuned.

10:20 PM: When he worked out in Indiana on May 23, Leaf said he thought he would fit in well with the Pacers’ frontcourt.

“When you have Myles (Turner) out there shooting threes as well, I think it gives you five guys that can stretch the floor,” Leaf said. “It puts a lot of pressure on the defense when there’s five guys that can stretch the floor. They really have to open up and can’t help as much, so it opens up those driving lanes.”

Leaf also has plenty of ties to the Hoosier State. His father, Brad, is from Indianapolis and attended Lawrence North before starring at Evansville. The Pacers actually drafted him in the seventh round of the 1982 draft, though he never played for the franchise.

Leaf’s mother is also from the state. So though he did not grow up here (he was born in Israel while his dad played overseas) and then was raised mostly in California, Indiana already feels a bit like home.

“It would be awesome,” Leaf said about playing for the Pacers. “I already have a lot of ties here. I was at dinner last night with some family friends. My grandma came up yesterday as well. I just have so much family here — all my family is in Evansville and Indianapolis. I have a ton of family here and my roots are from here, so it would mean a lot.”

Watch Leaf’s Workout Interview »

10:15 PM: Apologies for the lack of updates. Have been speaking with Pacers head coach Nate McMillan about the selection.

“T.J. came in and had a really good workout,” McMillan said. “(I) had an opportunity to speak with him and (he’s) a kid with a good spirit about him.

“Knows how to play the game. Very versatile on the offensive end of the floor. A 6-9 power forward that can spread the floor, put the ball on the floor do a lot of things on the offensive end of the floor.”

9:30 PM: The Pacers have selected UCLA forward T.J. Leaf with the 18th pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. Here’s what I wrote about Leaf after his workout:

“Leaf’s game would seemingly make him an ideal fit into a backup power forward position next season, with the potential to grow into a starting role alongside center Myles Turner, the team’s rising star.

Leaf has good size for his position (he measured out at 6-9 3/4 at the combine) and a polished offensive game.

He was an extremely efficient scorer in college, converting 61.7 percent of his field goal attempts. The freshman demonstrated the ability “to score at three levels,” as he puts it, meaning he could post up on the block, utilize his face-up game in the mid-range, or knock down shots from beyond the 3-point arc. Leaf attempted 1.7 threes per game and knocked them down at an impressive 46.6 percent clip.” Read More »

9:05 PM: Louisville’s Donovan Mitchell (one of my favorite interviews) and Kentucky’s Bam Adebayo (another personable youngster) now off the board, two more players who worked out for the Pacers. Still plenty of candidates there for the 18th pick, though. Four picks to go…

8:55 PM: Duke guard Luke Kennard goes to Detroit with the 12th overall pick. Kennard is the first player who worked out for the Pacers off the board. The sharpshooter worked out at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on June 5.

Kennard grew up two hours away from Indianapolis in Franklin, Ohio. Interestingly, he shoots left-handed but is naturally right-handed.

8:35 PM: We’re halfway to the Pacers’ first pick. Lauri Markkanen, Frank Ntilikina, and Dennis Smith, Jr. are off the board. So far, no player that has worked out for the Pacers has been drafted, but expect that to change soon.

8:10 PM: So far, the Draft has gone as expected. Josh Jackson goes to Phoenix with the fourth pick and De’Aaron Fox goes to Sacramento with the fifth.

7:57 PM: The next two picks are off the board, with Lonzo Ball going to the Lakers and Jayson Tatum going to the Celtics. Still a long wait until the Pacers pick.

7:42 PM: We’re underway in Brooklyn. As expected, Philadelphia takes Washington guard Markelle Fultz with the first overall pick. Should be an interesting couple of hours…

7:30 PM: Over the past month, the Pacers have had 52 prospects work out for the team at Bankers Life Fieldhouse (Miami guard Davon Reed worked out twice). We’ve got video interviews with and stories on each of those prospects at Pacers.com/Draft.

7:05 PM: This seems like a good time to offer a disclaimer about possible trades. As the official team website, we cannot comment on any trade rumors or even reported trades until they are officially announced by the league. So keep that in mind throughout the night.

6:30 PM: Wondering what kind of talent teams can typically get with the 18th pick? Here’s a gallery with every pick at that spot since 1980. There’s a few All-Stars in there, but also a few duds. 18th Picks in the Draft Since 1980 »

4:30 PM: Greetings, Pacers fans! Welcome to Draft Night 2017. We’ll be updating this page with Pacers-centric draft coverage throughout the night. Check back frequently for photos, videos, quotes, and insight as we learn which players will become the newest members of your Indiana Pacers.

The 2017 NBA Draft gets underway in just three hours. I’ll be updating this page as much as possible, so be sure to save a tab in your browser for us while you’re watching the Draft telecast and frantically refreshing your Twitter feed. Stay tuned!

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