Former Tennessee Freshman All-American Tobias Harris was selected 19th overall in Thursday’s NBA draft and is headed to play for the Milwaukee Bucks.
But it was a long, silent night for Vols All-SEC player Scotty Hopson, who was not selected in the 60-player draft. Hopson will work with his advisor, Larry Marshall, to sign a free-agent, non-guaranteed deal in the coming days.
“We’ve got a couple of teams we’re looking at,’’ Marshall said, “we’ll sift through it and put some minds together.’’
The Charlotte Bobcats picked Harris, but a three-way trade involving the Sacramento Kings led to the Bucks landing Harris.
“I knew (Milwaukee) was interested in me,’’ said Harris, who worked out with the Bucks earlier this week. “I had a great workout with them. I think that team is ready to win and will take the steps to win.’’
The NBA has salary slots published for its draft picks. As the 19th pick, Harris is slotted to make $1,218,700 the first year of his two-year, guaranteed contract, and $1,310,100 the second year.
Harris can receive no less than 80 percent of the slotted numbers, and no more than 20 percent over that, depending on negotiations.
Harris, a 6-foot-7 forward, is the first UT player selected in the draft since 2002, when Vols Marcus Haislip and Vincent Yarbrough were picked.
Chicago Bulls’ guard C.J. Watson, who bounced overseas before landing in the NBA Development League en route to the NBA, was the only UT player in the league last season.
Harris, 18, was the youngest collegiate player in this year’s draft, and he was the second SEC player selected.
“Sitting in there watching the draft was nice; I was just happy when my name got called,’’ said Harris, who attended the draft at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., with his family and former UT teammates John Fields and Trae Golden. “I was a little bit nervous, but not really. I knew someone would pick me sooner or later.
“I have great support. I’m a Vol for a life. I’m looking forward to representing the program and taking my work ethic to the NBA.’’
New Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin gathered the current Vols to watch the draft as a team.
“To be an elite program, we have to be a family,’’ said Martin, who was the 57th overall pick by the Atlanta Hawks in the 1995 draft. “But the main thing was paying respect to two really good players who helped put the program on the map. They did some great things here and represented the program well.’’
Martin said Harris could fit with any style of team.
“He will be successful in any system because of his mental makeup,’’ Martin said. “Whether he’s playing the first couple years depends on his position, but he’ll make the necessary adjustments because he has the discipline and focus.’’
Martin praised former UT coach Bruce Pearl for helping Harris develop.
“You have to give credit to the staff that coached him, because they put him in a position to shine,’’ Martin said, “and Tobias did a great job preparing himself with the 6 a.m. workouts and eating right to condition his body.’’
Pearl, who attended the draft, said he’s already heard from associates in Milwaukee.
“He worked out there this week and they were very impressed with him as a total package; person and player,’’ said Pearl, who coached at Wisconsin-Milwaukee prior to his six-year stint as UT’s coach. “I’ve got a lot of friends in Milwaukee that are very excited.’’
Pearl and Martin agree it worked to Hopson’s advantage to be a free agent after he was bypassed through the first half of the second round.
“If he’s not one of the earlier picks in the second round, you’re better off not getting drafted, because then you can pick and choose where you want to go,’’ Martin said. “As a competitor and elite player, like Scotty is, I know he would like to see his name called. But if he continues to put the work in, he’ll be a successful pro.’’