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LINCOLN — Dalano Banton is headed home to Toronto, while Nebraska basketball coach Fred Hoiberg has put yet another player in the NBA .
The 6-foot-9 Banton made his decision to remain in the NBA draft look brilliant Thursday night when he was selected in the second round with the 46th pick by the team he grew up watching, the Raptors, who had never drafted a Canadian player before Banton.
After playing one season at Nebraska — where late in the season, he even lost his starting job — Banton became the 11th player coached by NU coach Fred Hoiberg to play in the NBA, and he’s the second NBA pick out of Nebraska in the last three years, following Isaiah Roby, who was selected in the second round two years ago.
“Dalano came to Nebraska two years ago with a goal of wanting to reach the NBA and has worked hard to make that goal a reality,” Hoiberg said in a statement “Everyone in our program is happy for Dalano because so few people are selected each year. It should also serve as motivation for our current team with the system we play that gives our players an opportunity to work in an NBA-style system.”
Banton, who grew up in Toronto, watched the event from Chicago and was not immediately available for comment. He averaged 9.6 points, 5.9 rebounds and 3.9 assists last season for NU before entering his name in the NBA draft.
At one point, the Huskers expected Banton to return, but an invite to the G League combine, which turned into a standout performance, convinced Banton to keep his name in the draft.
Now he’s an NBA player, and the first for Hoiberg at Nebraska. He’s the 28th Husker overall to be drafted, but one of just seven selected in the first two rounds, joining Roby, Venson Hamilton, Tyronn Lue, Eric Piatkowski, Rich King and Marvin Stewart. Lue, Piatkowski and King were first-round picks.
Banton will be best remembered at NU for recording the second men’s triple-double in school history and a season played almost entirely without fans. He was significantly affected, coaches said, by a monthlong COVID pause that caused Banton to lose weight and strength, and he did not appear to be quite the same player after the pause.
No matter after Thursday night. Banton is a Raptor, and will begin his NBA career in the MGM Resorts NBA Summer League that starts Aug. 8.