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Paolo Banchero, Caleb Houstan excited for new beginning in Orlando

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ORLANDO, Fla. — Paolo Banchero and Caleb Houstan hadn’t met each other prior to the NBA draft, but the two are both eager to take the court together for the Orlando Magic.

The Magic selected Banchero with the first pick on Thursday and then took Houstan early in the second round at No. 32. The two players are the latest additions to the roster, and are each expected to help the team reach the next level under second-year head coach Jamahl Mosley.

They share many of the same qualities that stood out to the team.

“We are adding two great young men who are going to bring character and team orientation in a winning way of working, in addition to the amazing set of skills and talent they are going to bring to our team,” Magic president Jeff Weltman said. “We went into this draft looking to add skill, size, shooting, IQ, integrity, positional versatility and with these two young guys, we think we checked all of those boxes.”

Banchero was an All-American last season at Duke after averaging 17.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.1 steals. He is the fifth Blue Devils player to become the No. 1 pick in the NBA and the first since Zion Williamson in 2019.

The 19-year-old was among the three front-runners to be the No. 1 pick, along with Gonzaga center Chet Holmgren and Auburn forward Jabari Smith Jr. The team ultimately felt as though Banchero was the top college player in the country last season and drafted accordingly.

From afar, Houstan was as equally impressed with Banchero.

“I really don’t have to say too much, he is the No. 1 pick,” Houstan said. “Obviously, the size and skill at his position being able to score the ball all over the floor … He does it all. It is really exciting to play alongside him and I can’t wait.”

In addition to Banchero, Houstan also brings an all-around game to the Magic, as well.

Houstan, who previously played at the Montverde Academy roughly 30 minutes west of Orlando, averaged 10.1 points, four rebounds and 1.4 assists last season at Michigan. He started every game for the Wolverines and led the team with 60 3-pointers.

He had an inconsistent season but was highly touted entering the program last year. The Magic will certainly hope to be able to tap into his potential on the court as he projects to fill several needs for the team.

“(I watched) him at Montverde shoot the lights out for a couple of years,” Banchero said. “A very smart player and great size — really can do it all. He is really just able to affect the game in a lot of ways on both ends. I’m excited to get on the court with him.”

Added head coach Jamahl Mosley: “He is going to fit right in.”

Banchero and Houstan are each expected to play in the Las Vegas Summer League, which tips off on July 7 as the Magic host the Houston Rockets in the first game of the competition. It will serve as the first opportunity for fans to see their top pick in action.

He will be equally as excited to hit the hardwood.

“(I’m excited) to get out there and play and compete again,” Banchero said. “I’m really just looking forward to getting back to bumping live, playing 5-on-5 and getting on the court with other guys and competing.”

This post originally appeared on Rookie Wire! Follow us on Facebook!

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