Canada's Joshua Primo, Chris Duarte selected back-to-back in Round 1 of NBA draft

Toronto's Joshua Primo was the first of two Canadians to be selected back-to-back in the first round of Thursday's NBA draft.

The 18-year-old guard from the University of Alabama was taken 12th overall by the San Antonio Spurs.

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Chris Duarte of Montreal went one pick later when the Indiana Pacers selected the 24-year-old Oregon guard with the 13th pick, adding scoring punch off the bench.

Primo turned 18 on Dec. 24, 2020, making him the youngest player in NCAA's top division, while Duarte was the oldest player in the draft.

Primo impressed the Spurs and other teams at the NBA combine in June with his outside shooting and playmaking abilities. Still, the selection caught him off guard.

"I don't know if I was ready for that," said Primo. "I didn't realize it was going to be that high, but I'm glad it's with the Spurs.

"I told my agent when I first got into this process, that’s where I want to be. And it ended up working out that way. So, it’s great."

Primo, who represented Canada at the 2019 FIBA Under-19 Basketball World Cup as a 16-year-old, played high school in West Virginia for one season before returning home to complete his prep career at Royal Crown Academic School.

The six-foot-six, 190-pound Primo was a 2020-21 SEC All-Freshman Team selection while averaging 8.1 points and 3.4 rebounds and shooting 43.1 per cent from the field for the Crimson Tide.

Duarte averaged 17.1 points, 4.6 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.9 steals in his second and final season with the Ducks.

The six-foot-six, 190-pounder possesses the kind of size the Pacers were looking to add to their backcourt.

"Chris is someone who's really grown the last two years at Oregon. I think he's got very good versatility, great work ethic, great toughness, got a great story to get to where he’s at tonight," said Pacers general manager Chad Buchanan.

Duarte was born in Montreal and moved to the Dominican Republic before heading to rural New York for his final two high school seasons.

Initially, he committed to Western Kentucky but instead wound up starring for two seasons at Northwest Florida State, where he was chosen the National Junior College Athletic Association national player of the year before landing with the Ducks.

"I'm just grateful for those people who helped me to get here, my coach, every coach I played for," said Duarte.

Meanwhile, the Raptors went with homegrown talent and selected a third Canadian in the second round, grabbing Nebraska point guard Dalano Banton, who hails from Toronto.

The six-foot-nine, 204-pound Banton averaged 9.6 points per game while leading the Cornhuskers in both rebounding (5.9) and assists (3.9) per game.

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This report by The Canadian press was first published July 29, 2021.

-- With files from The Associated Press

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