The Nets drafted Bronx native Chris McCullough out of Syracuse University with the 29th pick in the first round of the NBA Draft on Thursday night at Barclays Center.
McCullough, a 6’9”, 200-pound forward, played one season at Syracuse. He averaged 9.3 points, 6.9 rebounds, 2.1 blocks and 1.7 steals in 28.1 minutes per game through 16 games in his lone season with the Orange.
McCullough said of being drafted by the Nets, “Just a good feeling to finally hear my name get called and walk on the stage. It’s my hometown. It’s a good feeling…It’s amazing. I am from New York City. I’m from the Bronx. So being called to play for the Brooklyn Nets is a big thing for me to have that opportunity, so I’m blessed for that.”
McCullough was asked if he watched the Nets at all last year, and he said, “I watched them every time they play.”
He then was asked what his impressions were of the Nets, and he gave an interesting answer considering the player he mentioned was traded within the hour, and he said, “Honestly I watched one person; I watched (Mason) Plumlee because he plays the same position. So I see exactly what he did and try to have my game just like him.”
McCullough spoke of his faMily being involved with basketball, saying, “Yeah, my whole family played basketball. I come from a basketball family. My father went to Murray State. Both my uncles played at Pitt.”
On his progress recovering from an ACL injury and if he can play next season, McCullough said, “I should be able to play by November. I’m not going to rush it. I’m just waiting my time, that’s it.
On how frustrating the injury was and if there ever was a chance that he was going to return to Syracuse and maybe try to improve your draft ranking, McCullough said, “It was very frustrating at first, maybe the first week, week and a half. After that I got over it pretty fast. I had to come back stronger, be stronger, overall game got even better. So that’s what I focused on doing.”
McCullough said of what he feels like the best part of his game is and what he has to work on at the next level, “Best part of my game is rebounding, playing defense. And I just want to work on my overall game, my body, and be the best player I can be.”
Nets Head Coach Lionel Hollins spoke with McCullough for a little bit after he was drafted. McCullough said of what Hollins said to him, “The main thing that stuck out to me was in the interview process, because I couldn’t play in the Combine. So nobody could see me play. So my interview was pretty good, he said, and that’s what got them to pick me.”
On what he can bring to the Nets when he is healthy enough to play full‑time, he said, “Rebounding, a person who’s going to play defense, play real hard and just run the floor and play my game.”
McCullough said of the interview process with Hollins and what was asked of him and what he said that maybe impressed them so much, “I don’t know, I think we just connected. Once we got in the room together we connected. He gave me life lessons, so basically that’s the main thing right there.”
He wasn’t able to work out during the off‑season like other individuals, and he said of how he feels that he got to this point without working out with these teams, “I thought that I interviewed pretty well with every time. Just being around the Combine, watching them play basketball, just trying to learn a lot of things and try and pick out little things from everybody’s game.”
McCullough said of where he is in the rehab process in terms of running and jumping, “Right now I’m exactly four and a half months out. I just started running three weeks ago and I started jumping maybe three weeks ago. So it’s coming along pretty good.”