LAWRENCE — Gradey Dick stared with intensity at the NBA draft board Thursday night.
The former Kansas Jayhawks guard from Wichita had worked out with the Indiana Pacers (who held pick No. 7), Utah Jazz (No. 9), Oklahoma City Thunder (No. 10), Orlando Magic (No. 11) and Dallas Mavericks (No. 12). But each of those teams passed him by and picked other players.
Dick wasn’t worried, though. The more he thought about it, the more he realized he wanted to be a Toronto Raptor.
Finally, the Raptors were on the clock with the No. 13 pick at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. Five minutes later, Dick’s hopes became a reality — Toronto picked him with its first-round selection.
“As I got there, I was thinking in my head, ‘If I end up here, I am going to be extremely happy,’ ” Dick told The Kansas City Star. ”I was just waiting for it and the cameras came to the table and I was super-excited that they made the decision to draft me.”
Alongside Dick sat KU coach Bill Self, who was ecstatic with the Raptors’ selection.
“He was at the table,” Dick said. “(He) congratulated me and it was really cool to have a coach like that where we’ve had that relationship for a couple of years now. Him being there for me was amazing.”
The Raptors ranked No. 28 in the NBA in 3-point shooting (33.5%) during the 2022-23 season, and Dick should provide immediate help in that department. His eccentric, fun-loving personality should also fit in nicely with a young Raptors team and the city itself.
“I’m extremely excited,” Dick said. “Just their play-style and what I can bring to their team is definitely attractive with their new coach and new GM. A couple of weeks ago, I got to visit the city for the first time.’
“I always talk about, in the visits to these cities, they either have good people/good fan base or a good city in general. Toronto, they have both, so I’m more than excited to be out there.”
A few weeks ago, Dick had a solo workout with the Raptors.
“I got to show my full arsenal with the staff,” he said. “I showed how I take pride in my shooting — all that good stuff. The thing with that is they’ve seen me play so much throughout my college season, so the main kind of priority of it all was just to meet faces and really just kind of show my personality and build relationships.”
Dick averaged 14.1 points, 5.1 rebounds and 1.4 steals per game for KU last season, shooting better than 40% from 3-point range. He also won multiple honors in his lone season of college hoops, landing on the All-Big 12 second team and appearing on the All-Big 12 freshman and newcomer teams.
Dick was a second option for the Jayhawks on offense who helped lead Kansas to a Big 12 title and No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. But don’t expect Dick to be a second option for the Raptors. Instead, he will likely be a complementary role player around star forward Pascal Siakam.
Role player or not, Dick believes he can be a crucial building block alongside forward Scottie Barnes.
“I was actually on FaceTime with Scottie Barnes,” Dick said, “and a player like him, his overall game, he does so many great things. So I think that, combined with my shooting straight off the bat, can be a crazy combo. (I’m j)ust someone that’s going to go there and be selfless and try to just be competitive in everything that I do. Really, try to make an impact early.”
So what’s Dick most looking forward to about playing in the NBA?
“It’s hard to say because this is a dream come true,” he said. “But I think just the fan bases and really just the professionalism of everything. No more school, so I can focus on all the things that kind of go into being a great basketball player.”
As Dick embarks on his professional basketball journey, he will never forget his Kansas roots.
“I want to thank them (Kansas fans) for everything they did — all the love and support,” he said. “Being a Kansas kid, they made me feel right at home. I can’t thank them enough for that. Being in a Kansas jersey was a dream come true. I look forward to representing them.”