Chris Duarte is looking to join an exclusive group of Oregon Ducks to not only make the NBA but be first-round picks.
Duarte is currently slated to be one of the first 30 names called in next week’s draft, according to multiple mock drafts.
Him being selected in the first-round after Payton Pritchard was a year ago would be the first time at least two Ducks were selected in the opening round in consecutive seasons since Luke Ridnour ‘03 and Luke Jackson ‘04.
“It meant a lot,” Duarte said on being invited to the draft green room. “Just a kid from the Dominican Republic, not a lot of kids make it out. It means a lot for me, my family, and people back home."
Just a few years ago maybe making it to the NBA seemed like a long shot to Duarte. He went from playing in the NJCAA for Northwest Florida State to winning the Jerry West Shooting Guard of the Year Award this past season.
His second season with the Ducks, and senior collegiate season, saw him become a prospect that’s been the topic of many conversations. He averaged 17.1 points and 4.6 rebounds, which helped him be named to the All-Pac-12 First Team and Pac-12 All-Defensive Team.
The way he plays has gotten him connected to the Warriors at No. 14.
Him being selected there is about where he could be selected, and he seems to be the type of player the Warriors would pick.
"Duarte isn't known as a shot creator, but he continuously moves around the court to get open looks off screens, handoffs or just finds himself open,” NBC Sports Bay Area’s Kendra Andrews wrote. “And when his shot isn't falling from a distance, Duarte has shown the ability to drive and finish at the rim. Those are some traits that certainly are reminiscent of Thompson, especially at the start of his NBA career."
Duarte’s, 24, two biggest slights are his age and being a senior in the draft. Typically seniors don’t go high in the draft because of the idea they’ve peaked.
"I'm a hard worker,” Duarte told ESPN. “That's my mentality -- outworking everybody. They can talk about my age and this and that. Hey man -- everybody's got a different path. I had to go to JUCO for two years, I had to reclassify a year in high school because I came here without knowing the language. I'm here and I'm ready."
Despite his age, it seems like teams don’t care about that. Maybe it’s because his game seems polished and who he is now is enough to contribute to an NBA team. Especially one with championship aspirations.