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Pacers Draft Cassius Stanley with 54th Overall Pick

The Pacers selected Cassius Stanley with the 54th overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft on Wednesday night. Stanley is a 6-6 guard who spent one year at Duke.

In his lone season with the Blue Devils, Stanley averaged 12.6 points and 4.9 rebounds over 29 games. He was named to the ACC All-Freshman Team.

"Cassius I think is amongst the tops in this draft when it comes to just pure athleticism, which is something our roster kind of lacks," Pacers general manager Chad Buchanan said of Indiana's lone selection.

"Cassius is the type of player that when you watch him on film, he pops."

Stanley, who turned 21 in August, set the Duke record last fall for highest vertical jump, breaking the previous record of 45 inches set by Zion Williamson. Stanley's mother, Tonya Sedwick, was a heptathlete on the track and field team at UCLA.

"He's really the only person in the country who can get up like that," Duke teammate Tre Jones said of Stanley's leaping ability. "When he's running like that and he's by himself, you've got to give it to him. There's no better athlete in the country to do that."

Stanley is a Los Angeles native who attended Sierra Canyon High School, the same high school as current Sacramento Kings forward Marvin Bagley III.

One of Stanley's mentors is Russell Westbrook. Stanley played for Westbrook's AAU team his senior year in high school and has remained in touch with the 2016-17 NBA MVP. Westbrook actually joined Stanley at his house on Wednesday night to watch the draft.

"He's taught me so many things, even just in the past hour," Stanley said. "Just (about) staying patient...I really just try to pick up everything I can from him. He's such a great role model, like a big brother to me."

This year's draft was perhaps the most uncertain in NBA history in large part due to the COVID-19 pandemic's impact on the pre-draft process. There was no Draft Combine this season and while the Pacers interviewed close to 100 prospects virtually, they did not bring anyone in to Indianapolis for a pre-draft workout or in-person interview like they would in a typical year.

Buchanan said the Pacers had Stanley rated much higher on their board and were "very happy" when he was still available with the 54th overall pick.

"Talking with Cassius tonight, he was expecting to be drafted much higher," Buchanan said. "I think he's going to come in with a chip on his shoulder, which is usually a good sign."

The Pacers will now turn their attention to free agency, which begins on Friday afternoon. Indiana has two players from last year's roster entering free agency, Justin Holiday and JaKarr Sampson.

The abbreviated offseason schedule gives teams just a handful of days to reconfigure their rosters before training camp opens in December. The 2020-21 season will tip off on Dec. 22.

"We've been prepping for the draft and free agency for quite a while," Buchanan said. "It comes at us fast, but it's something we've had a lot of time to prepare for, too."