FAYETTEVILLE -- Daniel Gafford, who grew up in El Dorado, is headed to Chicago.
The Chicago Bulls selected Gafford -- an All-SEC first-team forward for the University of Arkansas basketball team as a sophomore last season -- in the second round with the 38th pick in Thursday night's NBA Draft.
"It was nothing but joy," Gafford said in an interview with KATV-TV in Little Rock. "I felt it go all the way through my body, man.
"I couldn't hold it in. I had to let it go. I've come a long way with this basketball thing. There have been ups and downs. There have been all kinds of stuff going on when it comes to basketball, and to finally have my named called on that [television] screen, it was a whole different feeling.
"It means a lot. I'm pretty sure the whole city of El Dorado is going crazy right now."
Gafford, 6-11 and 237 pounds, is the first Razorbacks player drafted since Bobby Portis was picked by the Bulls at No. 22 in 2015.
"A 7-2 wingspan, he's a pick-and-roll man and finisher," ESPN analyst Jay Bilas said after Chicago picked Gafford. "As a roll man, he finishes 84% at the bucket."
Gafford averaged 16.9 points, 8.7 rebounds and 2.0 blocked shots in 32 games last season before he declared for the NBA Draft and didn't play in Arkansas' two NIT games. He was voted by coaches to the All-SEC defensive team.
"He rebounds, he blocks shots," Bilas said. "He's limited outside the paint, but he's athletic, long, tough, and very, very physical.
"So Daniel Gafford in the second round is a solid pick as a big guy. He's just not a guy that's going to score much outside the paint."
Gafford was the Bulls' second pick after they drafted North Carolina guard Coby White in the first round at No. 7 overall.
"Gafford could become one of the draft's biggest steals if he does develop a jumper, and that makes it worth taking a chance on him," Bleacher Report wrote on its website after he was picked by Chicago.
In Gafford's final home game at Arkansas, he had 29 points, a career-high 16 rebounds, 2 blocked shots and 2 assists in the Razorbacks' 82-70 victory over Alabama.
Avery Johnson, the Crimson Tide's head coach, played in the NBA as a point guard for 16 seasons and was a head coach with the Dallas Mavericks and Brooklyn Nets for seven seasons.
"The guy's a pro," Johnson said of Gafford. "I'm not sure if I'm supposed to say that while he's in college. But I guess I would probably know one when I see it.
"He's long, he's athletic. He does a great job of picking and rolling. Unbelievable hands. So he's a handful. That's why he's an All-SEC player, and he'll have a career playing basketball."
Gafford is Arkansas' 38th NBA draft pick and 19th selected in the first two rounds. He's the fourth Razorback to be drafted by the Bulls along with Portis, Sonny Weems (2008) and Martin Terry (1973).
Sports on 06/21/2019
Print Headline: Former Hog Daniel Gafford taken by Chicago in 2nd round