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COLUMBUS, OH - FEBRUARY 21: E.J. Liddell #32 of the Ohio State Buckeyes attempts to score on Hunter Dickinson #1 of the Michigan Wolverines in the first half at Value City Arena on February 21, 2021 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

Five things to know about Pelicans forward E.J. Liddell

  1. There was plenty of reason to believe he would not be an option for New Orleans with the No. 41 pick overall, because the 6-foot-7, 240-pound Liddell was projected by every draft analyst to be selected earlier in the process Thursday. Mock drafts by The Ringer and The Athletic had him going 18th to Chicago, for example. The vast majority of other mocks had him being drafted somewhere in the 20s, with Sports Illustrated’s projection of No. 34 being perhaps the lowest prediction anywhere.
  2. He was described as a “very productive college player” by several analysts after the Pelicans chose him Thursday. Liddell’s junior season at Ohio State (2021-22) featured an impressive set of all-around statistics, including averages of 19.4 points, 7.9 rebounds and 2.6 blocks. He shot 37 percent from three-point range on 123 attempts.
  3. Liddell has drawn comparisons to pros such as PJ Washington (according to Bleacher Report) and Paul Millsap (The Ringer). Ohio State men’s coach Chris Holtmann recently brought up the name of a key Boston role player who helped push the Celtics into the NBA Finals. “A lot of the NBA teams, whether it’s general managers or scouts that have called us, have brought the Grant Williams comparison to E.J.,” Holtmann told 247sports.com. “Similar build, similar body type. Different games; E.J.’s a more polished offensive player, Grant at this stage was a better mover, E.J.’s a better shot-blocker. I think E.J.’s got better touch. Grant is a terrific athlete, maybe has a little bit of an edge there. Both guys are gonna be very good, productive, long pros. I think what they both have in common is they’re phenomenal people. So I’ve watched that one.”
  4. A native of Belleville, Ill., which is located in Southwest Illinois, Liddell’s hometown is actually much closer to St. Louis (17 miles away) than it is to Chicago (294 miles) within the same state. Belleville has a population of 41,000. New Orleans’ roster is filled with players from power NCAA schools, but Liddell becomes the only current Pelican who played in the Big Ten.
  5. Liddell was in Belleville on Thursday evening, learning the news of the Pelicans choosing him while attending a draft party at the St. Clair Country Club, according to The Columbus Dispatch. The 21-year-old later told the Ohio newspaper of being picked at No. 41, “I’ve been proving people wrong my whole, entire life so this isn’t anything new. I’m gonna keep doing that until the day I’m gone. I’m happy they took a chance on me and I appreciate them for the opportunity.”