Kevin Huerter was faced with a tough decision just a few weeks ago. Stay at the University of Maryland for his junior year or declare for the NBA draft? On May 30, Huerter surprised many with his announcement that he would be forgoing his final two years at Maryland to declare for the NBA draft.
The decision was initially met with both support and criticism but on Thursday night it all paid off as Huerter was drafted by the Atlanta Hawks with the 19th overall pick. Huerter becomes just the third player from Maryland to be drafted in the first round in the last ten years. Alex Len was taken with the fifth overall pick in 2013, marking the only other first round selection to come out of the Mark Turgeon era.
The Terrapins suffered a disappointing 2017-18 season after losing some key players to injury, but through all that frustration Huerter was a constant bright spot. The sophomore averaged 14.8 points, 5 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game but really made himself a threat by shooting 41.7 percent from beyond the three point line.
Just a few months ago Huerter was not on the radar of many NBA scouts. However, the 19-year-old was invited to the NBA combine in May where he put on a show in shooting drills and five-on-five scrimmages. By the end of those four days in Chicago, Huerter had the attention of every scout and a lot of major media outlets as well. All of sudden his name was showing up in mock drafts and there was almost a unanimous sense around the league that he would be a first round pick.
The only thing holding Huerter’s draft potential back was a torn ligament in his right hand. It was reported that Huerter suffered the injury while playing Northwestern this past February, but it was not serious enough to sideline him. A few months later the injury in his shooting hand was still lingering, but it didn’t seem to have a negative impact on his combine performance.
Last week Huerter announced he had undergone surgery to repair the injury but would be sidelined for two months as a result. This might have turned some teams away but others in the media believed Huerter had already done enough to secure a spot in the first round.
Image credit: Charles Rex Arbogast / AP