'It's crazy': Knicks use second-round pick on UM's Ignas Brazdeikis
Michigan forward Ignas Brazdeikis never shied away from the bright lights.
Now he'll get to play under them constantly on the NBA's grandest stage.
Brazdeikis was selected in the second round of Thursday's NBA Draft by the New York Knicks, who traded with the Sacramento Kings and moved up to grab the Lithuanian-born Canadian with the No. 47 overall pick.
He became the second Wolverine to be drafted on the night, roughly an hour after Jordan Poole was chosen in the first round by the Golden State Warriors with the No. 28 pick.
The monumental moment, however, came as no surprise to Brazdeikis. During his lone season in Ann Arbor, he wasted little time making his name known and quickly emerged as Michigan's top scorer, averaging a team-best 14.8 points as a full-time starter.
He didn't lack toughness, confidence and — most of all — aggressive scoring instincts as a player could finish at the rim with either hand and knock down 3-pointers at a 39.2-percent clip.
"I definitely think think I grew a lot coming into Michigan not knowing whether I'm going to start or play or anything like that," Brazdeikis told The Detroit News this week. "It was all about me being the best player every single day and that's the mentality that I bring everywhere. I just kind of came in not knowing what to expect and ended up being the leading scorer on the team, and we had such a great team this year.
"I feel like I grew a lot with my skills. I learned a lot more about the game. Coach (John) Beilein has such a great mind for the game and he taught me so much. My IQ level grew so much as the year was going on that I think I developed into a pro this year."
More: Detroit News 2019 NBA Draft grades
But despite all his highlights and accolades, the Big Ten freshman of the year was far from a lock to be drafted. Sports Illustrated and ESPN both projected Brazdeikis (6-foot-7) to go undrafted due to questions surrounding his defensive capability and position in the NBA.
As a result, Brazdeikis' focus during the pre-draft process was showing teams "I can handle the ball amongst the best, I can make plays amongst the best and that I am a perimeter player."
Apparently the Knicks liked what they saw and made the move to grab Brazdeikis, who became Beilein's only one-and-done player and the program’s first since Jamal Crawford in 2000.
"It's crazy and with all these great players for me to be the only one-and-done he's had is very special to me," Brazdeikis told The Detroit News. "It means a lot. I think he's very happy for me. He developed me and he told me early on in the year, 'If you're ready to go and you're prepared to play at the next level, I will be pushing you out the door.'
"He wants me to succeed. That's the kind of guy he has always been and our relationship is so great. To be his only one-and-done is special."
Brazdeikis, who watched the draft from home in Ontario with family and friends, is the 11th and final Wolverine to be drafted during Beilein's 12-year tenure.
His selection also marked the third time in seven years Michigan has had multiple players taken in the same draft, following Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. in 2013 and Nik Stauskas, Mitch McGary and Glenn Robinson III in 2014.
In New York, Brazdeikis will join former Canadian junior national team teammate RJ Barrett, the No. 3 pick, on an NBA team that finished with the worst record last season at 17-65 and hasn't made the playoffs in six seasons.
Last year's No. 47 pick, Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, signed a three-year, $4.5 million deal that came with $1.4 million in guaranteed money, according to Spotrac.