Da’Sean Butler and Devin Ebanks were selected in Thursday night’s NBA draft held in New York City. Butler was the 42nd selection in the second round by the Miami Heat while Ebanks was taken one pick later by the defending world champion Los Angeles Lakers.
“I’m so happy right now, you don’t understand,” Ebanks said. “The world champions ? I get to play with the best player in the world, Kobe Bryant ? I don’t really have too many words to say. I’m just happy.”
Butler is also pleased.
When he injured his knee midway through the second half of West Virginia’s Final Four game against Duke there were doubts that Butler would even get drafted despite once being projected as a first-round choice.
Butler worked hard to rehabilitate his knee and the Heat thought enough of his potential to make the call.
“I was literally just overwhelmed,” said Butler. “I started to cry for a second.”
Butler was one of three players selected by Miami in the second round joining Texas center Dexter Pittman and Mississippi State forward Jarvis Varnado. Last year Miami had a 47-35 record and finished third in the Southeast Division before losing in the first round of the playoffs to Boston.
Ebanks was one of two players taken by the Lakers; Texas El-Paso forward Derrick Caracter was taken 58th.
Ebanks averaged 12 points and 8.1 rebounds per game in helping the Mountaineers to their first Final Four appearance in 51 years.
Butler averaged 17.2 points per game and became only the third player in school history to score 2,000 career points. The other two were Hot Rod Hundley and Jerry West.
“I feel good, I mean you hear so much, ‘he doesn’t do this, he doesn’t do that,’ ” Butler said. “I mean I have a lot more work and a lot more things to accomplish to prove everybody wrong about me so I’m just looking forward to the season, that’s about it.”
West Virginia made the NCAA tournament during three of Butler’s four seasons playing for the Mountaineers and the other year they won the NIT when he was a freshman.
“It’s been a long, long journey,” Butler said.
The selections of Butler and Ebanks marks the first time in school history West Virginia has had two players taken since the draft was paired to only two rounds. The last time two Mountaineer players went in the draft was 1983 when guard Greg Jones was selected in the third round by the Indiana Pacers and forward Russel Todd was drafted in the sixth round by the Milwaukee Bucks.
It also represents the second and third Bob Huggins players taken in the draft since Huggins has been at WVU; Huggins has had 18 players drafted during his coaching career.
“I’m willing to learn,” Ebanks said. “They just won the NBA championship, so I have a whole bunch of stuff to learn about the NBA and what better team than the Lakers?”
By John Antonik
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