ATLANTA — The Atlanta Hawks selected forward/center Onyeka Okongwu (own-YEH-kuh oh-KONG-wu) from the University of Southern California with the sixth overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft and added guard Skylar Mays from Louisiana State University with the 50th pick.
The 6’9 Okongwu led the Trojans in points per game, rebounds per game and blocks per game in his only collegiate season, averaging 16.2 points, 8.6 boards and 2.7 blocks in 28 appearances (all starts) in 2019-20. The Chino, Ca. native earned All-Pac-12 First Team honors and was a member of the Pac-12 All-Freshman team after leading the conference in FG% (.616), ranking second in blocks and second in total offensive rebounds (92). Okongwu scored in double figures on 25 occasions and recorded 11 double-doubles, including five contests with at least 20 points and 10 rebounds. He set a USC freshman record with 76 blocked shots, including a school-record tying eight rejections in his first collegiate game on 11/5/19 against Florida A&M.
“He’s an unbelievable person,” Hawks General Manager and Head of Basketball Operations Travis Schlenk said about Okongwu. “Since I’ve been here, we’ve said, ‘character is at the top of our list,’ and he certainly checks that box in a big way. Secondly, going to on-floor, he’s a very, very good defensive basketball player. He can protect the rim, he can rebound and he’s a very good pick-and-roll center with very good instincts. Offensively, he’s got unbelievable hands. He catches everything. He’s got the seven-foot wingspan and he can run the floor. So, we’re really excited about him.”
Mays, a 6’4 guard, averaged 16.7 points, 5.0 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.8 steals in 31 games (all starts) en route to an All-SEC First Team selection as a senior in 2019-20. A native of Baton Rouge, La., Mays became the first player in LSU history to record at least 1,600 points, 400 rebounds, 300 assists and 200 steals.
“We had Skylar ranked a lot higher (than No. 50),” Schlenk said of Mays. “A four-year guy, an extremely smart basketball player, a very good body, a combo guard, a high basketball IQ, skilled player. We were excited when he was there because, like I said, we had him ranked much higher than that.”
A summa cum laude graduate with a degree in kinesiology, Mays was the 2019-20 COSIDA Academic All-American Player of the Year, a three-time Academic All-American and a two-time SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year.