Cam Johnson's UNC teammate stunned by his surprising lottery selection: 'Wow, that's crazy, bro'

Yahoo Sports

While the buildup to the NBA draft was filled with excitement, trades and anticipation, once Adam Silver started calling names Thursday night, most everything was going accordingly.

Then the Phoenix Suns were on the clock.

Zion Williamson went No. 1 to the New Orleans Pelicans. Ja Morant went No. 2 to the Memphis Grizzlies. RJ Barrett went No. 3 to the New York Knicks, much to the delight of fans in attendance at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center.

The lottery portion of the draft went mostly as expected through the first 10 picks, even though some of the teams had changed thanks to pre-draft trades.

Suns make stunning pick at No. 11

But the Suns, sitting on the No. 11 pick after trading back from No. 6 with the Minnesota Timberwolves, did what the Suns normally do. They shook things up, selecting North Carolina forward Cameron Johnson.

Not even Cameron Johnson, who wasn't in the building Thursday, seemed to think he was a lottery pick. (Reuters)
Not even Cameron Johnson, who wasn't in the building Thursday, seemed to think he was a lottery pick. (Reuters)

Johnson moved up boards after big run at UNC

Not long ago, Johnson was a draft long-shot, expected to be chosen as a flier in the second round. But his successful run at North Carolina after transferring from Pitt that included playing a key role on a team that won the ACC regular-season title and earned a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament apparently had scouts re-thinking their evaluation of the wing player with a sweet shooting stroke.

He moved up in some mock drafts to the late first round and was slated at No. 21 in Yahoo’s final mock.

Johnson wasn’t even in the building

But nobody had Johnson going in the lottery. He wasn’t among the 24 players invited to the green room at the Barclays Center. He wasn’t even in the building to shake commissioner Adam Silver’s hand.

Coby White stunned

Apparently not even Johnson thought he’d be selected this high. His UNC teammate Coby White, who went No. 7 to the Chicago Bulls, certainly didn’t.

“He went what?” White said when hearing the news.

“Cam Johnson went 11th.”

“Wow. Wow. Wow, bro. That’s crazy.”

After gathering his composure from hearing the clearly stunning news, White shifted gears to hyping up his friend. Kind of.

“That’s so love, bro. If ya’ll know Cam — you don’t know how hard Cam works. And you know, it’s a lot of people that doubt him. ... That’s crazy, bro. Wow. That’s so crazy.

“I’m so happy for him right now. Y’all don’t understand how happy I am for Cam. He proved it night in and night out that he deserves to be in the conversation for a lottery pick, man. ... I’m gettin chills up here.”

Johnson’s a good shooter, but ...

This is not at all to say that Johnson is a bad player. With a 6-9 frame and one of the best shooting strokes in the draft, he has the ability to be an effective catch-and-shoot threat from distance in the NBA.

But he’s not particularly strong or a tremendous athlete. He could struggle in the NBA on the defensive end and in creating his own shot. He’s not a lottery talent.

Another Suns blunder?

But the Suns are the Suns, and they decided trading back to 11 to get a guy they clearly coveted was far enough. They also got Dario Saric in the deal with the Timberwolves, who ended up taking Texas Tech’s Jarrett Culver, a lock-down defender and excellent athlete who can excel on both sides of the floor.

In the end, Phoenix may prove everybody wrong by pairing Johnson up with Devin Booker to become one of the NBA’s most potent shooting tandems. Until then, this looks like another in a long line of bad moves by the Suns.

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