It was a long night for Notre Dame point guard Demetrius Jackson, the 6-foot-2, 194-pounder out of Mishawaka, Ind., as a once certain first-round draft pick crashed all the way down to the No. 15 spot of the second round to the Boston Celtics at Thursday’s NBA draft in Brooklyn.
Jackson, who left Notre Dame following his junior season, is just the fifth Notre Dame player to be drafted since 1999, joining first-rounder Troy Murphy (No. 14) in 2001, first-rounder Ryan Humphrey (No. 19) in 2002, and Grant with second-rounder Pat Connaughton last year.
But it was a precipitous fall for Jackson, who was considered a lottery in early mock drafts, and then a likely first-round selection between the Nos. 20 to 29 picks in the days leading up to the draft.
Jackson, who measured 6-foot-2 in shoes, gave ground in the draft to guards in the 6-foot-4, 6-foot-5 range as the league continues to accentuate length.
Six-foot-four Kris Dunn (Providence), 6-foot-5 Buddy Hield (Oklahoma), 6-foot-5 Jamal Murray (Kentucky) were the first guards off the board at Nos. 5, 6 and 7 with Dunn considered a point, Hield a shooting guard and Murray a combination guard.
A total of 10 guards ranging from 6-foot-4 to 6-foot-7 came off the board in the first round. With the fourth pick of the second round, Phoenix chose 5-foot-9 Kentucky point guard Tyler Ulis. Another four guards were drafted before the Celtics tabbed Jackson.
Jackson helped spearhead back-to-back appearances in the Elite Eight, with Grant and Connaughton leading the way in 2015, and Jackson taking center stage with active big man Zach Auguste in 2016.
He averaged 15.7 points per game in 2015-16, shooting 45.1 percent from the field and a middling 33.1 percent from three-point range. He contributed in other ways, in particular, running the show from the point guard position for the vast majority of his 36 minutes per game.
Jackson averaged 4.7 assists and 3.5 rebounds per game. His 31 offensive rebounds were third on the team behind Auguste and Bonzie Colson. He shot a solid 81.3 percent from the free-throw line.
Jackson played an integral role on the last two Notre Dame teams that combined for a 56-18 record (.756), the best two-season winning percentage since the 1979-80 and 1980-81 squads under Digger Phelps went 45-12 (.789).
Jackson is the 60th Notre Dame basketball player drafted since the National Basketball Association instituted its selection process in 1948.
Notre Dame has had 17 players selected in the first round since Austin Carr was the No. 1 overall selection of the Cleveland Cavaliers in 1971.
The last 16 were:
• Collis Jones (No. 17) in 1971
• John Shumate (No. 4) and Gary Brokaw (No. 18) in 1974
• Adrian Dantley (No. 6) in 1976
• Bill Hanzlik (No. 20) in 1980
• Orlando Woolridge (No. 6) and Kelly Tripucka (No. 12) in 1981
• John Paxson (No. 19) in 1983
• Ken Barlow (No. 23) in 1986
• David Rivers (No. 25) in 1988
• LaPhonso Ellis (No. 5) in 1992
• Monty Williams (No. 24) in 1994
• Pat Garrity (No. 19) in 1998
• Pat Murphy (No. 14) in 2001
• Ryan Humphrey (No. 19) in 2002
• Jerian Grant (No. 19) in 2015
Carr, Kevin O’Shea (1950) and former Notre Dame director of athletics Dick Rosenthal (1954) are the only Irish players to be selected No. 1 overall.