Pacers draft UCLA’s Aaron Holiday with 23rd overall pick of NBA Draft

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Meet the newest Indiana Pacer, UCLA’s Aaron Holiday.

The point guard was selected 23rd overall in the first round of the NBA Draft.

Holiday, a junior, took a massive leap last season leading the Bruins with 20.3 ppg to go along with a solid 42% from downtown. He led the PAC-12 in scoring, becoming the first UCLA player to do so since Reggie Miller in 1985-86.

“I’m just very blessed and very excited,” said Holiday.  “I feel like I can come in and help them right away.  I’m just happy right now.  I know a lot about the team.  There’s a lot of Bruins there.  Victor Oladipo is really good.  They have some good young bigs.  It’s also a great city.”

Holiday comes from an NBA pedigree, with older brothers Jrue and Justin having already established solid NBA careers.

With Darren Collison and Cory Joseph both still having a year left on their deals, it will be interesting to see how he competes for minutes.

“When we look at Collison and Holiday, we see a lot of similarities,”  Pacers president Kevin Pritchard said.  “We see speed.  We see elite shooting.  We were shocked that he was there.  He’s a bulldog defender.  He’s as tough as they get.  We felt like he had a great pedigree.”

“Our guy, Aaron was there,” said head coach Nate McMillan.  “We’re very happy to have him on board.  He’s a solid guard with a high basketball IQ.  He’s a two-way player.  We do get another UCLA guy with us, but just a solid guard who we feel is going to fit in to the culture of this team.”

During his press conference, Holiday said he’s familiar with the Circle City due to his sister-in-law, Lauren Holiday (formerly Cheney.) The Ben Davis grad is a two-time Olympic gold medalist for Team USA and won the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup.

Check out a montage of highlights from  his junior campaign:

 

Last year at no. 18, the Pacers selected another Bruin, TJ Leaf.  He struggled to find consistent playing time with 8.6 MPG, but projects as a solid stretch 4 posting a 42% mark from downtown in 2017-18.

In the second round, the Pacers picked Missouri State’s Alize Johnson with the 50th pick.   The 6 -8 power forward averaged 15 points and 11.6 rebounds per game in his senior season.

“Alize’s a bulldog,” Pritchard said.   “We’ve known about him for a couple of years.  He’s a guy that if you said, ‘go eat some glass and we’ll win the game.’  He’ll say, ‘do you want salt or pepper?’  You can ask him to do anything.”

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