Considered a long shot for being selected, the former Ohio State sharpshooter's chances were dimming. As ESPN carried the proceedings live, however, a fan-held sign became more prominent throughout the evening that simply read, "Draft Diebler."
Surrounded by family members at a house on Lake Erie, the Big Ten's all-time leader in three-pointers had to laugh.
"I said, ‘If I don't get drafted, at least there was a sign for me,' " he told BSB.
Fortunately for Diebler – as well as Mike Wright, the New Jersey native who made the sign – the wish was fulfilled when Diebler was selected 51st overall by the Portland Trail Blazers. It capped a whirlwind two months for Diebler since the Buckeyes bowed out of the NCAA Tournament with a Sweet 16 loss to Kentucky.
After suffering a partially separated shoulder against the Wildcats, Diebler rested the joint for more than two weeks before hitting the workout circuit. He scored an invitation to the NBA draft combine and showed his wares for more than a half-dozen teams. In addition, Diebler got married June 16 and scheduled the honeymoon for July 2-11 in Hawaii.
Through it all, the former Buckeye said he was not nervous about his draft prospects.
"I was excited about the whole opportunity, the whole draft process," he said. "I was very blessed to be able to go and work out for as many teams as I did and meet a whole bunch of different people and travel to a bunch of different cities. I wasn't nervous. I knew I might get drafted but that there was also a chance that I might not get drafted. It was kind of 50-50. I was just enjoying the moment."
On draft day, Diebler's family and his wife's family had a day-long family gathering that the former Buckeye said moonlighted as a draft party. Diebler missed the first seven picks of the draft because he was riding jet skis with his brothers and said he began playing card games when the second round got underway.
It was not until NBA deputy commissioner Adam Silver was striding to the podium to announce Portland's pick that Diebler's phone rang with the news.
"He said, ‘With the 51st pick' and my agent called me and said, ‘Diebs,' " Diebler said. "I said, ‘Yeah,' and then in the background I heard ‘Jon Diebler and my family went crazy.' Then my agent said congratulations. It all happened at once, to be honest."
Former head coach Thad Matta said he had a similar reaction to the news.
"I was elated," he said. "I think back to No. 1 recruiting Jon back to his sophomore year (of high school) and watching him grow as a player and the struggles he had his freshman year to becoming probably the best shooter in the country this year, to hear his name called it as a great feeling."
Immediately, Diebler said his phone was besieged with messages from former teammates, high school friends and fellow Buckeyes.
"My phone was blowing up like crazy," he said. "You know when you're on your phone and you hear a click when you get a text message? I couldn't even understand my agent, I was getting so many."
The Trail Blazers were one of the teams to have hosted Diebler for a workout. They were part of a three-way deal on draft night that saw them part ways with small forward Rudy Fernandez, who averaged 9.1 points and shot 35.1 percent from the floor in 24.1 minutes per game during his three years in a reserve role for Portland.
That move set off some bells inside Diebler's head.
"I was like, ‘Woah, that's surprising. That's kind of cool. I had a good workout there and they could use a good shooter now,' " he said. "That's when it sunk in that there was a real possibility. I remember talking to them after my workout and they were definitely excited but you just never know. I'm positive I wasn't the only person who had a great workout for Portland."
Although the Trail Blazers own Diebler's rights, the league is expected to enforce a lockout beginning July 1. Any talk of contracts or future plans will be on hold for the immediate future, including while Diebler and his wife are on their honeymoon.
One real possibility is a season overseas with guaranteed money until the labor situation is resolved at home. As he spoke from Chicago while on a layover on his way home after a whirlwind trip to Portland on June 27-28, Diebler said he is confident that he will wind up in a positive situation.
"I have to figure out what to do," he said. "You never know how long the lockout is going to last. I still have to make the team. Those are all things that my wife and family and agent and I will talk out. We're just going to go where the Lord takes us and we're excited about that opportunity.
"We're excited about Hawaii, though."