The Minnesota Timberwolves selected Washington sophomore guard Jaylen Nowell with the No. 43 overall pick in the second round of Thursday’s NBA Draft.
Nowell, who led the Huskies to a Pac-12 regular season championship and their first NCAA Tournament since 2011, announced in March that he would be foregoing his final two seasons of eligibility to enter the draft.
“This is just such a blessing and something I’ve worked my whole life for,” Nowell said in a statement released by UW. “Now that it’s become a reality, I’m pretty speechless. I get to represent my family, my city and play in the best league in the world. It’s unbelievable.”
The 2019 Pac-12 Player of the Year, Nowell averaged 16.2 points per game while shooting 50.2 percent from the field and 44 percent from beyond the arc. He was the quickest player in UW history to reach 600, 700, 800, 900 and 1,000 points and he reached double digit scoring in all but four games last season.
CBS Sports draft analyst Kyle Boone said Nowell impressed during the NBA Combine, which significantly raised his draft stock.
“I think a selling point of him is his shot creation,” Boone said. “That was probably what stood out to me the most obviously at Washington and then at the combine. He’s a guy that can grab a rebound and run the floor. He can run in transition. He can finish at the basket. He’s a guy that in a system, I think, plays off the ball or he can play on the ball. He’s a guy that can create his own shot.
“When you’re talking about guys that can play in the NBA, there’s not a lot of efficient shot creators. So that specific skillset stands out to me and it’s something I think could really benefit him.”
An AP All-America honorable mention selection, Nowell significantly improved his shooting percentages between his freshman and sophomore seasons. His field goal percentage went up by 5.1 percent while his 3-point shooting percentage jumped by 8.9 percent.
Last season, Nowell was named a finalist for the Jerry West Award, which is given to the top shooting guard in the country.
“I love the fact that he is an incredibly efficient player,” said Sam Vecenie, an NBA Draft analyst for The Athletic. “I love the fact that he is a shot maker. What I would like to see him do more of is having higher confidence level pulling from three. That’s the number one thing.”
Nowell will join a Timberwolves team that finished last season 36-46. He was the second UW player taken in the draft. The Philadelphia 76ers traded up to take senior wing Matisse Thybulle with the No. 20 overall pick in the first round.