Isaiah Whitehead is staying home.
The former Seton Hall guard was selected in the second round of the NBA draft on Thursday night when the Brooklyn Nets traded for the 42nd-overall pick.
A Coney Island native, Whitehead attended the draft, which was held at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. He said he could not have imagined a better landing spot.
“For my friends and my family to be able to come out and see me play every night is a blessing,” Whitehead said. “I really have to take advantage of it.”
The Nets sent pick No. 55 and cash to the Utah Jazz in order to move up and select Whitehead. News of a trade was first reported by Michael Scotto of Sheridan Hoops.
As a second-round selection, Whitehead is not guaranteed a spot on the Nets’ 2016-17 roster. He is the first player to be taken out of Seton Hall since Eddie Griffin and Samuel Dalembert were first-round picks in 2001. In addition, he is the Nets’ first Brooklyn-born player since the team moved to the borough from New jersey.
Whitehead came to Seton Hall two years ago with a mission to put South Orange back on the map. After winning the 2016 Big East Championship and a NCAA Tournament berth, that mission became a reality.
The collegiate accomplishments are now stepping-stones as Whitehead realizes his dream of becoming an NBA player.
“It was amazing [hearing my name called],” Whitehead said. “I was kind of shell-shocked. I couldn’t believe I was actually doing it.”
After experiencing a shortened freshman season due to an ankle injury, Whitehead stepped up in the point guard role as a sophomore. The Big East Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player blossomed into a strong passer, deep-threat shooter and leader on the floor for a sophomore-laden squad.
Whitehead dominated the Big East, averaging 20.0 points, 3.5 rebounds and 5.5 assists per game on 41.4 percent shooting in conference play.
In that time, three-pointers became Whitehead’s specialty, as he averaged 2.9 a game while shooting 42.6 percent from downtown. He also emerged as one of the country’s better shot blocking guards, chasing down opponents for 1.7 swats a game, good enough for seventh in the Big East.
Now a member of Brooklyn, Whitehead will look to improve his shot and overall defense as he moves to the next level.
Nonetheless, the highlight reel will roll on for Whitehead as he transitions from Pirate to Net.
“I’m looking forward to everything,” he said. “They’re a great group and I can’t wait to start working for them.”
Elizabeth Swinton can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @eswint22.