2024 NBA Draft

Johnny Furphy among latest prospects to shine through NBA Academy pipeline

Learn more about No. 35 pick Johnny Furphy's journey to the NBA with the help of the NBA Global Academy.

No. 35 pick Johnny Furphy and his college coach Bill Self of Kansas at the 2024 NBA Draft.

The NBA Academy has produced numerous collegiate and NBA players since its inception in 2016, including five draft picks in the past three years.

Johnny Furphy has now been added to that list.

The forward out of Kansas was selected 35th overall by the San Antonio Spurs and traded to the Indiana Pacers in the 2024 NBA Draft. He joins Bennedict Mathurin (Canada; NBA Academy Latin America), who was selected by the Pacers with the No. 6 overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft.

Furphy spent a season with the Centre for Excellence, the NBA Global Academy’s partner, which helped develop his game and professionalism.

“It [the Academy] definitely gets you ready for the routine aspects, like going into a more professional environment,” Furphy told NBA.com of his time at the Academy.

Furphy might be the Academy’s most recent draft pick, but his road to the draft was entirely different than others.

This time last year, the Melbourne native had just one scholarship to attend Sacramento State. A trip to Atlanta to participate in the 2023 NBA Academy Games with the Centre for Excellence Academy would change his career trajectory forever.

Furphy and his team dominated, and the 6-foot-7 guard-forward hybrid was the talk of the tournament, averaging 14.8 points and 7.5 rebounds per game.

His soft 3-point touch attracted scouts, but his athleticism caught their eye. On one play, Furphy drove the baseline, exploding past the defender and rose to the rim. As the weak side defender contested the slam, Furphy put the ball in his right hand, then wrapped around the defender for a thunderous tomahawk slam.

It was at a following tournament in Las Vegas where Kansas coach Bill Self came away impressed with the wiry teenager. Furphy was offered numerous scholarships from several elite programs but ultimately chose to be a Jayhawk.

“That weekend changed my life,” said Furphy.

“That was when the ball started rolling for me. A few places, Kansas being one of them, they got in touch with me after that.”

During his lone season in Lawrence, Furphy averaged 9.0 points and 4.9 rebounds per game and shot 35.2% from deep with a team-best 44 threes.

But as a summer commit, it was a struggle in the first half of the season. While coming off the bench and adjusting to his new team, Furphy scored double figures just twice in 15 games.

Then something clicked for the 19-year-old. Furphy worked his way into the starting lineup on January 15. He scored only 7 points, but a storm was coming.

For the next 12 games, Furphy reached double-digit scoring outputs in all but one game, including a career-high 23-point, 11-rebound performance against Cincinnati. He made the 2023-24 Big 12 All-Freshman team.

“It was just a matter of establishing myself. Then I knew I would get an opportunity at some point, and then it was just a matter of taking that [starting spot] when I can,” said Furphy.

“I think it worked out better than I could have ever imagined. Full credit goes to the coaching staff and coach. They really had confidence in me. They knew what kind of player I could be and gave me all the resources to allow me to take the next step.”

The Global Academy is just one of three Academy locations, including NBA Academy Africa and NBA Academy Latin America. There will be seven Academy players appearing in the NBA this season, including Mathurin and Furphy.That list includes: New Orleans Pelicans forward Dyson Daniels (Australia; NBA Global Academy), Portland Trail Blazers center Ibou Badji (Senegal; NBA Academy Africa), Dallas Mavericks forward Olivier-Maxence Prosper (Canada; NBA Academy Latin America), newly acquired Chicago Bulls guard Josh Giddey (Australia; NBA Global Academy), and the No. 57 overall pick Ulrich Chomche (Cameroon; NBA Academy Africa).

Chomche became the first player to be drafted directly out of the NBA Academy.

“NBA Academies, along with our partners like Basketball Australia Centre of Excellence, continue to provide world-class development on and off the court, as well as life-changing exposure platforms for young prospects to showcase their talent,” said Chris Ebersole, Head of International Basketball Development at the NBA.

The Centre of Excellence partnered with the NBA Global Academy in 2019 but produced many Australian NBA stars before that time, including: Andrew Bogut, Patty Mills, Aaron Baynes and Joe Ingles.

Furphy has already received advice from a few players in this group, notably Ingles. The main theme was to keep his head down and keep working.

“It’s something that I’ve been beginning to experience, this brotherhood feeling. It’s pretty cool to think that I’m kind of joining a group of guys that I’ve been watching my whole life,” Furphy said.