Chris Duarte is the NBA’s newest Hispanic draft lottery pick
The Dominican former Oregon Duck was selected No. 13 in the 2021 NBA Draft by the Indiana Pacers.
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During the 2021 NBA Draft on July 29, Chris Duarte was selected by the Indiana Pacers with the No. 13 overall pick.
The selection made Duarte the newest Hispanic player drafted in the NBA draft lottery.
The 24-year-old Duarte was born in Montreal, Canada, but raised in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic, where he grew up playing baseball.
After picking up the sport of basketball at 13, Duarte and his family moved to Troy, New York when he was 16 years old. There, he played his final two years of high school basketball at Redemption Christian Academy.
By the time he ended his senior year, Duarte was ranked as the fifth best high school player in the state of New York.
After originally committing to play college basketball at Western Kentucky University, Duarte began his college basketball career at Northwest Florida State College. After two years at Northwest Florida saw him average 15.6 points, 6.9 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.6 steals per game, win a state title and be recognized as the National Association of Basketball Coaches National Junior College Player of the Year, Duarte transferred to the University of Oregon for two years.
During his senior year at Oregon, Duarte led his team to the Sweet Sixteen, was named the AP Pac-12 Player of the Year and received the 2021 Jerry West Award, given each year to the nation’s top collegiate shooting guard. His averages for his senior year were 19 points, 7.1 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.2 steals and 1.1 blocks per game, along with 40% shooting from the three-point line.
His performance throughout his final year in college earned him a selection as the No. 13 overall pick in the 2021 NBA draft.
Duarte is the first Hispanic player to be drafted in the lottery since Karl-Anthony Towns was selected with the No. 1 overall pick in 2015.
Other current NBA players of Hispanic descent selected in the lottery include Devin Booker (No. 13 pick in the 2015 NBA Draft), Brook Lopez (No. 13 pick in the 2008 NBA Draft), Ricky Rubio (No. 5 pick in the 2009 NBA Draft) and Al Horford (No. 3 pick in the 2007 NBA Draft) and Carmelo Anthony (No. 3 pick in the 2003 NBA Draft).
Upon being invited to the green room prior to the draft, Duarte said it meant a lot to him.
“Just a kid from the Dominican Republic, not a lot of kids make it out. It means a lot for me, my family, and people back home,” Duarte said.
Pacers’ head coach Rick Carlisle noted there’s a good chance Duarte will be able to start playing right away as a rookie.
“One of the reasons that we were drawn to him was the fact that he was more of a finished product than a lot of the guys in the draft and we’re trying to win healthy and win games,” Carlisle told Oregon Live. “His athleticism is underrated. His skillset is unique. At 6'6", he has both length, speed, and quickness. We just feel like he can do a lot of things at both ends of the floor.”
At 24 years old, Duarte was the oldest player selected in the draft and is expected to make his Summer League debut for the Pacers on Aug. 8.