SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Sports) – Kyle Kuzma became the third straight University of Utah players taken in the first round of the NBA Draft when he was selected by the Los Angeles Lakers with the 27th overall pick.
Kuzma, who left Utah after his junior season, follows Delon Wright and Jakob Poeltl as Utah’s latest first round draft picks.
Kuzma averaged 16.4 points and 9.6 points for the Utes last season. He had a feeling he was going to be taken by the Lakers.
“I had an interview with them at the combine and worked out for them,” Kuzma said. “That was the team I thought I had the best vibe with, and I wanted to be a Laker. We told them and it happened. Coming through the process people had me pegged as a late 2nd rounder or undrafted guy, but I proved people wrong. “It’s a great feeling, man, a great feeling.”
Former Lone Peak High star Frank Jackson had to wait until the first pick of the second round to hear his name called. Jackson, who played just one season at Duke, was taken with the 31st overall pick by Charlotte, but was then traded to the New Orleans Pelicans.
“To be a Pelican, and to play with amazing guys like Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins, it’s going to be awesome,” Jackson said. “I’m just looking forward to this opportunity. The way the point guards have evolved in the league I think I definitely fit that mold where I can score the ball, I can get people involved, I can lead the team, kind of that combo guard for sure.”
Jackson is the first Utah high school player drafted since 2014 when Pleasant Grove’s C.J. Wilcox was taken in the first round by the Los Angeles Clippers.
“It’s really a dream come true,” Jackson said. “Hopefully I can be a role model to a lot of other kids who play basketball in the great state of Utah.”
Caleb Swanigan, who grew up in homeless shelters in Salt Lake City, was taken in the first round with the 26th overall pick by the Portland Trailblazers.
Former BYU star Eric Mika, who left school after his sophomore season, was not drafted.