Brackins selected as No. 21 pick in NBA Draft

Former ISU forward Craig Brackins reacts after being selected as the 21st pick in the NBA Draft on Thursday.

Jake Lovett

The basement was littered with family, coaches, former teammates, close friends and media members from across the state.

All eyes were affixed to any one of three TVs across the west wall.

He wandered around the basement, anxiously greeting all that were in attendance at this, a party for him. A gathering to celebrate his past, and to be there for him as he discovered where his dream would take him next.

“Hey, sit down,” his former teammate Diante Garrett said.

“No, I don’t want to,” he said. “I need to keep moving.”

He had reason to be anxious on such a peaceful night in Ames.

In just two hours, he would finally learn the outcome of months of workouts, tryouts and conversations with different teams.

In just two hours, he would know where he would begin the next stage of his career.

In just two hours, Craig Brackins would be the 21st pick in the NBA Draft.


The first three picks went as predicted: the Washington Wizards selected John Wall, the Philadelphia 76ers selected Evan Turner and the New Jersey Nets took Derrick Favors.

Then, at number four, the Minnesota Timberwolves picked one of Brackins’ former teammates, Wesley Johnson.

“I’m excited,” Brackins said after his friend was taken off the board.

After Johnson, though, Brackins’ attitudes toward picks were slightly less supportive.

He was surprised by DeMarcus Cousins’ name being called at No. 5, let out a “wow” when Ekpe Udoh was picked at No. 6, and swept away up the stairs after the Utah Jazz took Gordon Hayward at No. 9, calling out “Oh my goodness,” the whole way up to the second level.

However, the kind-hearted big man was giving nothing more than a fan’s perspective on the picks.

“At the beginning I was just being a fan, watching,” Brackins said shortly after he was selected. “I worked out against some of those guys, and I’m just so happy [for them].”

As the picks wore on, though, the mood in the room changed for everyone.

Brackins went from being a fan to trying to figure out when NBA commissioner David Stern would call his name.

Each time Stern took to his New York City podium the crowd hushed to a deafening silence, cameras were focused on Brackins, and he anxiously awaited the inevitable.

Pick No. 18: Eric Bledsoe.

The crowd could feel the moment it had been waiting for fast approaching.

Iowa State’s new men’s basketball coach, Fred Hoiberg, stood calmly at the back of the room while his former NBA colleagues pondered their teams’ fate.

Pick No. 19: Avery Bradley.

Before each pick, Brackins and his family leaned forward on the plush leather couch, waiting as patiently as they could.

Pick No. 20: James Anderson.

After each pick, Brackins sat back in his seat, prolonging the moment he’d dreamed about for years.

Pick No. 21: Craig B

The crowd’s roar drowned out the rest of the commissioner’s announcement, but they all already knew.

Brackins’ dream had come true.


After the flashbulbs went out and Brackins had a moment to take in what he had heard, he turned to his mother and, with tears in his eyes, hugged her.

“It was great,” Brackins. “It was a great feeling to have them [his family] out here to experience that with me.”

His mother and brothers shared in the moment with him.

After his family, Brackins was congratulated by his teammates and friends from the ISU community.

“We made it. We made it,” he said as he embraced his older brother.

Three years after coming to Iowa State from his native Palmdale, Calif., Brackins has made it to what he called a “perfect situation.”

The Oklahoma City Thunder selected Brackins at No. 21, but earlier in the evening had traded the rights to the pick to the New Orleans Hornets, meaning Brackins’ NBA dream-come-true would take him to the Big Easy.

Hoiberg, who never had an opportunity to coach the outgoing Brackins, agreed that the Hornets will suit Brackins’ style and abilities.

“It’s a perfect scenario,” Hoiberg said. “It is such a privilege and an honor to be able to play at that next level.

“Just to get the opportunity, Craig is going to get two guaranteed years, and I truly believe that Craig is going to have a long, very good NBA career.”

Brackins went against what many experts thought he should last spring when he announced he would return for his junior season, despite being projected as a top-14 pick.

Brackins said the decision to come back made him a better player, made him more mature and more confident.

Now, after months of workouts, tryouts and uncertainty about his future, Brackins has a new home.

“To finally you know you have a home, there’s no better feeling,” Brackins said.

“There’s nothing better than this. I have no words right now, seriously. This is a great opportunity. This is what I’ve always wanted to do.”