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McGary, Huestis All Smiles in Joining Thunder

By Nick Gallo | Thunder Basketball Writer | mailbag@thunder-nba.com

As the Thunder continues to dig its roots deep into the Oklahoma City soil, the prototype of a typical player in the organization has begun to emerge.

As Mitch McGary and Josh Huestis joined Thunder General Manager Sam Presti and Assistant General Manager Troy Weaver at the Oklahoma History Center on Friday afternoon, it was clear that the organization’s two first round selections from the 2014 NBA Draft fit the mold. In front of an audience of Thunder staffers, media and middle school children participating in Summer University, a program sponsored by OKC Public Schools and Teach for America, McGary and Huestis were officially introduced as members of the Thunder for the first time.

Not only do Presti and the Thunder believe that selecting McGary and Huestis at 21 and 29 respectively was a wonderful improvement to the team on the floor, but that both young men will add to the continually developing culture that the organization is building in Oklahoma City.

“With these two individuals, we think we’re getting two people and players with tremendous competitive will, who are selfless basketball players, are players that understand their contributions to winning and have experience impacting winning,” Presti said. “They’re guys who we feel like fit our organization with the way they approach the game.”

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McGary is 6-foot-10, 255 pounds and can play power forward and center. He comes to the Thunder after two seasons at the University of Michigan. During his freshman season, McGary helped lead the Wolverines to the National Championship game, ultimately falling to the Louisville Cardinals. On Thursday night, McGary was at his home in Chesterton, Ind. with 40 of his family and friends watching the draft in his garage. Needless to say, when he got word that the Thunder was going to select him with the 21st pick, he was ecstatic.

“When my name was called, everybody was screaming and I didn’t know what to think,” McGary said. “It’s just an amazing feeling to be a part of this organization, hearing your name called and realizing your dream is coming true.”

Huestis’ experience was similar, but also one that provided him an opportunity reflect on where he’s been and where he still wants to go. The 6-foot-7, 230-pound forward from Stanford University played four years for the Cardinal, and was named to the Pac-12 Defensive Team during his senior season, when he averaged 11.2 points, 8.2 rebounds, 1.2 assists and 1.9 blocks per game and increased his total blocks to 190, number one all time in Stanford history. With family in his hometown of Great Falls, Mont., Huestis was awestruck when he learned he would be selected with the 29th overall pick.  

“It was incredible to hear my name called and to feel like my dream was finally being accomplished,” Huestis explained. “But at the same time it’s just getting started. It’s indescribable. It’s something I’ll never forget. I’m looking forward to seeing where this will go.”

With their humility, toughness and blue-collar nature, McGary and Huestis are sure to fit in and mesh with the core of Thunder players already on the roster, and into the organization which has adopted the mentality of the Oklahoma City community. The duo will get to work next week with their new Thunder teammates, who have already reached out to congratulate and encourage them. With Summer League right around the corner, both players will start meeting with the coaches and staff at the INTEGRIS Health Thunder Development Center to get a baseline reading on where they are as players and where they can begin in their development process.

“It’s great to be a part of such a first class organization,” McGary said. “I’m thrilled to be here and I can’t wait to get started.”

“We’re honored to have the opportunity to fulfill our dream, play for the Thunder and do all that we can to help the team win,” Huestis said. “I’m looking forward to getting started.”

One thing the Thunder knows it will get with both McGary and Huestis is a relentlessness in spirit, passion and commitment to doing the dirty work to help the team win. Integrating two rookies into a team that is coming off of a 59-win season and a trip to the Western Conference Finals will be a challenge, but when both young men are selfless, team-first people, it provides the organization with an opportunity to take strides forward both in the short and long term.

“We’re thrilled to have these types of competitors and these types of people in Oklahoma City Thunder uniforms,” Presti said.

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