BY PETER HAILEY
It takes a rare topic in the sports world to bring together fans of the Baltimore Orioles and Portland Trail Blazers, but in Pat Connaughton, the two team's supporters have something they're both interested in.
The Massachusetts native played both basketball and baseball at a high level during his four years at Notre Dame. On the hardwood, Connaughton averaged 13.8 and 12.5 points per game in his junior and senior seasons respectively, and hit on 38.6% of his three-point attempts overall in his Fighting Irish career.
Meanwhile, on the diamond, the 22-year-old compiled a 3.03 ERA and 105 strikeouts in 154.2 innings over three years with Notre Dame's baseball team. It's evident that Connaughton is talented in both sports, and teams in both the NBA and the MLB took notice of his skills: Baltimore selected him in the fourth round of the 2014 MLB Draft, and the Brooklyn Nets took him in the second round of the 2015 NBA Draft before trading him to Portland.
As with any two-sport athlete, questions regarding which game he'll try to turn pro in will follow, and on Tuesday, Connaughton spoke with reporters after a practice with the Blazers to elaborate on his current plans, which were originally discussed here.
"Right now it's basketball," Connaughton said. "That's the way I've pursued it. With the two sports, you gotta take it one day at a time."
As for whether he had expected to be drafted by an NBA team, Connaughton was candid.
"That's a good question," he said. "At the beginning of the process, it was 'Will I get drafted or will I not?' And then, I was able to put myself in a position where it was more likely than not I would've been drafted."
The rookie said that even if he hadn't heard his name called in the NBA Draft, however, he still would've made an effort to crack a roster. In his mind, that was the only way to go about it.
"The whole thing with the two sports for me was, 'Don't burn one bridge before you know what's across it,'" Connaughton said. "I'd be doing myself a disservice for going to bat for the two sports my whole life then just ending one because I didn't think I had a shot. I owe it to myself, and I owe it to my family, to put my best foot forth."