The Detroit Pistons found the perfect backcourt partner for Cade Cunningham in Jaden Ivey, who they made the No. 5 overall pick in the 2022 NBA draft on Thursday.
Ivey averaged 17.3 points, 4.9 rebounds and 3.1 assists at Purdue last season and has been compared to Memphis Grizzlies sensation Ja Morant.
Here are four things to know about the 6-foot-4, 195-pound guard:
He comes full circle
In a recent interview with The Spun, Ivey expressed some interest in the Indiana Pacers, noting his mother, Niele Ivey, played for the WNBA's Indiana Fever. But she also played for the Detroit Shock in 2005, which Ivey said made the Motor City alluring.
The Shock aren’t Ivey’s only previous ties to Detroit. His father, Javin Hunter, was born in Detroit and attended Birmingham Detroit Country Day before playing wide receiver for Notre Dame and in the NFL.
Ivey’s late grandfather, James Hunter, played defensive back for the Detroit Lions from 1976-82 and tallied 27 career interceptions. Hunter was the Lions' first-round pick in 1976, going No. 10 overall.
“This is (Jaden’s) dream come true to be in Detroit,” Niele said on Thursday’s ABC draft broadcast. “We have so many amazing roots in Detroit.”
He has South Bend inspiration
Niele Ivey is the head coach at Notre Dame, where she won the national championship as a player in 2001. She was a Fighting Irish assistant from 2007-19 before joining the Memphis Grizzlies for one year, then returned to South Bend in 2020 to replace the retiring Muffet McGraw.
In elementary school, Jaden was fond of Notre Dame women’s basketball stars Skylar Diggins-Smith, Arike Ogunbowale and Jewell Lloyd. He even followed his mom on a visit to recruit Diggins-Smith.
“She has a type of swagger about her that is different,” Ivey told The Athletic about Diggins-Smith last October. “It’s killer. Fierce. She’s really got that fierce competitiveness within her. And you can’t mess with her. When she’s in her mode, you can’t mess with her. And when I’m on the court I hope that’s what people think about me.”
Despite that, and his mother’s status in South Bend, Ivey spurned offers from the Fighting Irish and Butler to sign with the Boilermakers. But that didn’t stop Ogunbowale from delivering him a special message during the draft.
“I just wanted to say congratulations on being drafted in the first round,” Ogunbowale told Ivey in a prerecorded message which aired on ESPN. “That’s crazy I’m even saying this, just seeing this little boy grow up, wanting to be in the gym all the time, working on his game every single day to become this young man, superstar athlete.
“And you’re about to go crazy in the league. I’m a firm believer that you’re really about to take over this league, so I love you, I’m proud of you, and it’s your time to go crazy. You know I’m always in your corner.”
He also has the drip
In case you missed it before the draft, Ivey’s interview with ESPN began with a conversation about his attire. His outfit from Armani consisted of a blue velvet suit and bowtie, red bottom shoes and an icey silver chain.
And the clutch gene too
One of Ivey’s signature moments at Purdue came Jan. 30 against Ohio State after the Buckeyes erased a 20-point second half deficit and nearly upset the Boilermakers. With 0.6 seconds remaining, Ivey launched a 3-pointer over his defender and nailed it, delivering an 81-78 win.
— CBS Sports CBB (@CBSSportsCBB) January 30, 2022
More perspective on Ivey’s impressive sophomore campaign in West Lafayette: He became one of three Big Ten players in the past 30 seasons to record 600 points, 175 rebounds, 110 assists, 30 steals and 20 blocks in a season.
Listen and subscribe to our new podcast "The Pistons Pulse" hosted by Freep's Omari Sankofa II and Motor City Hoops' Bryce Simon. We'll have a draft reaction episode for you Friday morning. Find our show wherever you listen to podcasts; weekly episodes drop every Tuesday morning.
Contact Mason Young: MEYoung@freepress.com Follow him on Twitter: @Mason_Young_0
This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Detroit Pistons' Jaden Ivey's grandfather starred for Detroit Lions