Houston Cougars forward Jarace Walker was selected No. 8 overall by the Washington Wizards in the first round of the 2023 NBA Draft on Thursday night.
The selection gave the Cougars a first-round pick for the first time since 2021, when Quentin Grimes went No. 25 overall. But he’s the Cougars’ first lottery pick ever. Center Hakeem Olajuwon was taken No. 1 overall in 1984, but that was before the NBA Draft Lottery was implemented.
Before the selection, ESPN reported that Walker was to be dealt to the Indiana Pacers for their No. 7 pick, forward Bilal Coulibaly of France. If that report is accurate, Walker will suit up for the Pacers.
The 6-foot-8 forward was selected was named to the All-AAC Freshman of the Year, the All-ACC Freshman Team and the All-AAC Second Team. After the season he declared for the NBA Draft and surrendered his remaining eligibility, as he was projected to be a lottery pick.
He finished his one season at Houston leading the team with 11.2 points and 6.8 rebounds per game. He also blocked 1.2 shots per game and had three double-doubles. He was a six-time All-AAC Freshman of the Week and he helped the Cougars reach the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament.
Walker is also the 13th first-round pick in Houston history, dating back to Gary Phillips, taken by the Boston Celtics in 1961.
UCF, BYU, Cincinnati and Houston will join the Big 12 Conference on July 1. The league will play at 14 teams for one season before Oklahoma and Texas transition to the Southeastern Conference on July 1, 2024.
France’s Victor Wembanyama was taken No. 1 overall by the San Antonio Spurs. Alabama’s Brandon Walker went No. 2 overall to the Charlotte Hornets. The G League Ignite’s Scoot Henderson was selected No. 3 overall by the Portland Trail Blazers. The Overtime Elite’s Amen Thompson was selected No. 4 by the Houston Rockets. The Overtime Elite’s Ausar Thompson went No. 5 to the Detroit Pistons. Amen and Ausar are twin brothers.
At No. 6, the Orlando Magic took Arkansas’ Anthony Black. At No. 7, the Indiana Pacers selected Bilal Coulibaly of France.