Clippers take Norcross' Al-Farouq Aminu in NBA draft

Photo by Bill Kostroun

Photo by Bill Kostroun

JOHNS CREEK -- As expected, Al-Farouq Aminu's number came up very early on draft night.

The Norcross grad was the eighth player selected in the NBA draft when the Los Angeles Clippers called his name at Madison Square Garden in New York.

That made him Gwinnett's first-ever first-round selection, besting the previous top pick of another former Blue Devil, Jodie Meeks, who was selected in the second round with the 41st overall pick a year ago.

It was exactly where most pre-draft projections had him being picked, which meant a fairly low-stress night for the 6-foot-81/2, 216-pound power forward.

But then, the way Aminu handled himself in his two varsity seasons at Norcross, as well as his two collegiate seasons at Wake Forest, it likely would have been low-stress evening no matter when he was selected.

In addition to earning All-State honors in helping the Blue Devils to state titles in both his junior and senior seasons, Aminu earned Freshman All-American honors in his first season at Wake, and was named second-team All-Atlantic Coast Conference in his second before throwing his name into the draft.

Even in the days leading up to the draft, he maintained the same laid-back demeanor that current Blue Devils coach Jesse McMillan said will serve him well in the NBA.

"The good thing about Farouq is, he was over at Norcross (two weeks ago) at (brother Alade Aminu's) Brotherhood of the World camp, and he was just as down to Earth as ever," said McMillan, who was an assistant to now-GAC coach Eddie Martin during Aminu's career at Norcross. "He didn't seem stressed. It seemed like he was very relaxed.

"That's the way he is. He doesn't get stressed out. He knows he's a really good ball player, and he'll have a good handle on it."

Aminu's cool, calm and collected nature is also what Martin reflected on the time he coached him.

"When I think back, he had to play (junior varsity) basketball his first year because he transferred in," Martin recalled. "To know that coming in, and to make that move and accept it, was big for him."

The way McMillan sees it, there's only one draw back for him being taken by the Clippers.

"I wish he was in a different time zone so we can see him play a little more," McMillan joked about the three-hour time difference between Norcross and Los Angeles. "Unfortunately, we won't get to see him play as much, but it's really exciting for him."

The Clippers seem to be equally excited about getting Aminu, who brings a combination of athleticism and strength on board the team officials say they've been looking for.

"We wouldn't have taken him if at some point we didn't think he was going to become the starting small forward," Clippers general manager Neil Olshey told the Associated Press about Aminu, who averaged 15.8 points and an ACC-best 10.7 rebounds per games for Wake Forest this past season. "There are ways he can contribute to this roster from day one.

"We've been one of the poor rebounding teams in the league at the small forward position. We just added the best rebounder in the ACC."