Notre Dame graduate Pat Connaughton was drafted by teams from both sports over the last 18 months, the first athlete since 10-year Major League Baseball veteran pitcher Mark Hendrickson turned the trick in 1997.
Connaughton was drafted Thursday night by the Brooklyn Nets, a second-round selection and the 41st selection overall. He was soon thereafter traded to Portland and a Trailblazers squad that won 51 games last season to capture the Northwest Division crown.
The Baltimore Orioles drafted Connaughton as a pitcher (RH) in the fourth round of the 2014 MLB draft. His plan is to first attempt to make the Trailblazers roster before potentially pursuing a baseball career.
Connaughton has previously stated a professional basketball career oversees would not be an option rather than baseball.
Notre Dame’s lone captain last season, Connaughton led the 32-6 Irish in rebounds with 7.4 per game, that despite a six-foot-four frame that paired him nightly with the best big men the Athletic Coast Conference had to offer. Only one ACC player, seven-foot Miami center Tonye Jekiri, averaged more defensive rebounds per contest than Connaughton’s 6.4 last year.
Connaughton’s stock rose at the NBA Draft combine when he posted a stunning 44-inch max vertical leap – the second-highest jump in combine history. (His standing vertical was 37 inches, second nationally in 2015.)
A career 38.5 percent shooter from beyond the three-point arc and a 42.3 percent marksman as a senior, Connaughton averaged 12.5 points per game in his final season.
He grabbed a combined 28 boards over Notre Dame’s final three tournament contests through the Elite Eight last season including a game-high nine against Kentucky, matching the total of No. 1 Kentucky’s seven-foot pair Karl-Anthony Towns (No. 1 overall to Minnesota) and Willie Cauley-Stein (No. 6 to Sacramento), combined.
Connaughton and fellow Irish MVP Jerian Grant combined Thursday night to be the first pair of Irish players to be selected in the same draft since LaPhonso Ellis and Elmer Bennett were selected No. 5 and No. 38 overall, respectively, in 1992.