NEW YORK — Tony Carr said the evening’s long wait was well worth it. Sitting in the stands at the Barclays Center during Thursday’s NBA draft with family and several friends, the Penn State sophomore point guard from Roman Catholic was selected as the 51st overall pick in the second round by the New Orleans Pelicans.
“When you pick up a basketball at age six or seven, every kid says they want to go to the NBA,” Carr said shortly after the draft had concluded. “To hear my name called in the NBA draft is a dream come true.”
When asked if he was disappointed not to be drafted higher, Carr took a positive approach.
“No, I am blessed with this opportunity,” he said. [A total of] 450 people make it into the NBA, are in the NBA, so to be one of 60 drafted tonight is a dream come true and I am grateful for everything.”
A few questions with Penn State PG Tony Carr from Roman Catholic a few minutes after he was selected by New Orleans, the 51st overall selection pic.twitter.com/RifbluNosQ
— Marc Narducci (@sjnard) June 22, 2018
So were his parents.
“I just feel so proud to witness Tony get to a pinnacle of one of his dreams, to live his dreams and to be a part of it from the inception,” said Anthony Carr, who coached his son for five years on an AAU team called Philly Triple Threat.
His mother Nicole appeared to be the calmest person in the arena.
“I wasn’t stressed at all,” she said. “We relied on our faith and know that this was God’s plan for him.”
The 6-foot-5 Carr was the first sophomore in Penn State history to score 1,000 career points. He helped lead the Nittany Lions to this year’s NIT championship. Carr averaged 19.6 points and 5.0 assists in earning first-team all-Big 10 honors.
He was the first Penn State player to be selected in the NBA draft since Calvin Booth was a second round pick of Washington in 1999.
Carr said he had “11 or 12” pre-draft visits.
One of them was to the Pelicans, although he didn’t work out due to a toe injury that has since healed.
Carr was the only draft choice of the Pelicans.
“He is the 51st pick, we didn’t think he would drop this far and we feel lucky for the opportunity to draft him and we will see what happens,” Pelicans general manager Dell Demps said in a post-draft news conference.
Demps said that Carr was on the Pelicans’ radar for some time.
“We like his size his ability to make plays, his IQ, that he is 6-5 and we will see him in summer league and are really looking forward to that,” Demps said.
Demps, who feels that Carr can play either backcourt position, wasn’t willing to guarantee him a spot just yet. So much is unknown, especially with Pelicans point guard Rajon Rondo being a free agent.
“He [Carr] has a big hill to climb,” Demps said. “There is no guarantee he is on the roster.”
The Pelicans GM didn’t want to get too far ahead of himself when projecting Carr’s role.
“I think the most important thing is not to get ahead of it, see what happens when we get him in here,” Demps said. “He will have to compete and we will give him every opportunity to be successful.”
That is all Carr wants after an emotional evening on Thursday.
“There was a lot of emotion running through my mind, my stomach,” he said. “It’s great to be a member of the New Orleans Pelicans.”