Instant Juice: Former Syracuse F Elijah Hughes headed to Utah Jazz

Hughes Georgetown
Dec. 14, 2019; Washington, D.C., USA; Syracuse Orange forward Elijah Hughes reacts after a foul call during an 89-79 loss to the Georgetown Hoyas at the Capital One Arena. Mandatory Credit: Saugat Sen, The Juice Online.

A quick take on Elijah Hughes being selected in the 2020 NBA Draft on Wednesday evening:

WHAT HAPPENED: Hughes was selected by the New Orleans Pelicans with the 39th pick and was immediately sent to the Utah Jazz according to reports. It was not immediately known what the Pelicans received in exchange for Hughes’ draft rights. Hughes watched from home in Beacon, New York, with his parents and others around him. The redshirt junior decided to forgo his final year of collegiate eligibility and enter the NBA draft back in March.

ANALYSIS: Hughes joins a crowded wing space in Utah. The Jazz have several established players at the small forward and shooting guard spots, including Donovan Mitchell, Jordan Clarkson, Bojan Bogdanovic and Joe Ingles. The Jazz finished 44-28 in the COVID-19 shortened regular season and were eliminated by the Denver Nuggets in the NBA Playoffs in the Western Conference Semifinals. It was the second trade of the draft night for New Orleans, who also shipped the 38th pick and Tony Bradley to the Detroit Pistons for future considerations. They also drafted Udoka Azubuike with the 27 pick.

HERO: Hats off to Hughes, who was a lightly recruited player out of high school and ranked No. 200 in his class according to 247 Sports. Hughes averaged 7.8 points and 2.3 rebounds per game as a freshman at East Carolina, but hit the transfer market with momentum as a high-major prospect. He landed at Syracuse, where he became the team’s leading scorer in the 2019-20 season at 19.0 points, tops in the ACC, to go along with 4.9 rebounds per game. He was named First Team All-ACC at the end of the year.

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ZERO: Hughes became the first Syracuse player since 2017 to be drafted, snapping an unusual two-year dry spell for the Orange. The drought could partially be attributed to recruiting restrictions as a result of NCAA sanctions levied on Syracuse in 2015. The last SU player to be drafted prior to Hughes was Tyler Lydon by the Denver Nuggets.

WHAT’S NEXT: Earlier in the week, the NBA announced that NBA training camp will begin on Dec. 1, and the season will begin on Dec. 22. Hughes will have his shot at making the Jazz opening day roster, though given the glut at the wing spot, he may start out the year with their G-League affiliate, the Salt Lake City Stars.

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Wes Cheng
About Wes Cheng 2598 Articles
Wes has worked for Rivals.com covering the New York Knicks, as well as for Scout.com covering Syracuse athletics. Wes has also worked for the South China Morning Post (Hong Kong) and reported on the NBA and MLB for the New York Sportscene. A native of Long Island, New York, Wes graduated from Syracuse University in 2005. Follow him on Twitter @ChengWes.