LAS VEGAS, Nev. – Sixty names were called during the 2014 NBA Draft, but not the name of Jordan Bachynski.
The 7-foot-2 center who left ASU as the Pac-12’s career leader in blocked shots had just had his own shot blocked, denied entry into the game’s top professional league.
“It was one of the most stressful nights of my life,” he said of draft night. “It was tough at first when my name didn’t get called. That was one of the lowest points of my life.”
Bachynski though, as he did so well as a Sun Devil, rebounded.
Several teams — seven or eight he said — made contact with him and his agent immediately after the draft and the decision was made to join the Charlotte Hornets and their entry into the Las Vegas Summer League.
A brief mini-camp preceded the games where Bachynski got to know his new team and teammates plus the city as well.
“It’s been a lot of fun and that’s what I’m trying to focus on,” he said earlier this week. “I love this sport, basketball. I love that I get to play and I love that I get to learn from some of the great players of all-time. I mean, Patrick Ewing is our coach and I pick his brain whenever I can and he’s surrounded himself with a phenomenal coaching staff, so whenever I get a chance to learn from them I take advantage of it.”
Being taught by a Hall of Fame center has been especially rewarding for Bachynski, who admitted to being a bit star-struck during a pre-draft workout with the Hornets.
“But now I see him as a coach,” he said, “and it’s humbling to be learning from a guy like that who has so much NBA experience and scored so many points and done so much with the sport.”
Getting matched up against Cody Zeller, last season’s fourth overall pick, has also helped Bachynski’s learning curve.
“He’s a great player. To learn how to defend him and to learn his offensive game is invaluable,” he said. “I think that’s one thing a lot of guys miss is their chances to learn.”
And that is how Bachynski is treating this week in Las Vegas, as another learning opportunity. He’s played in two of the Hornets’ first three games, including starting the opener against Golden State.
Bachynski, last season’s Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, has scored six points on 1-of-3 shooting and a perfect 4-of-4 from the foul line with zero rebounds and one block in 21 minutes.
“I hope to show the team what kind of player I am and what kind of teammate I am,” he said.
It’s been a hectic month for Bachynski, who while working out ahead of the draft, managed to enjoy “one of the highest points” of his life when he and his wife, Malia, welcomed the birth of their first child, a baby boy named Kawika on June 13.
Two weeks later came the low point when 30 teams passed on him in the draft.
Bachynski now though views that night differently.
“After talking to people I know in the NBA and with my agent, we ultimately decided that if I was going to go late second round, it’s a better situation now. If it doesn’t work out with the Hornets—I’m praying it does and I really think it will—but if it doesn’t, I’m not stuck with them. I don’t have to play with their D-League team. I can go to other teams. I have other options,” he said.
“I’m in a great spot. I love Charlotte. It’s a great town. I think I can help them out a lot and there’s a need for bigs at Charlotte.”