Hawks sign Next Star NBA hopeful

NBA hopeful and sharpshooter Justinian Jessup has become the latest NBL Next Star, signing with The Hawks for the 2020-21 season.

In a slight difference to past Next Stars, the 22-year-old is eligible for the NBA Draft on October 17 and has attracted interest from several teams.

If Jessup is drafted, it gives his NBA team the option to place him with the Hawks this season, like the “draft and stash” model the New Orleans Pelicans used last season with Didi Louzada at the Sydney Kings.

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Brian Goorjian is looking forward to hooking up with Justinian Jessup.Source:News Corp Australia

The 2020 draft will feature another NBL Next Star and NBL Rookie of the Year LaMelo Ball, who is widely expected to be drafted in the top three after his season with the Hawks.

Jessup said he was excited about joining the Hawks and the chance to play in the NBL.

“It’s a great opportunity to get NBA exposure while playing against tough competition,” Jessup said.

“I’m excited about playing for coach Goorjian and all the young guys on the team. LaMelo playing last year was huge for the league and brought a lot of exposure (for the NBL), and I know it’s going to be tough competition, which I’m really looking forward to.”

Jessup recently completed his senior NCAA season at Boise State University where he etched his name in its record books with an incredible 325 three-point shots over four years.

He was the first player in Boise State history to record 1500 points, 500 rebounds, 250 assists, 150 steals and 50 blocks.

JJ's got a sweet looking stroke on him ☔️

It looks like @thehawks have got themselves a shooter in #NBL21 Next Star @justinian_10 👀 pic.twitter.com/PVpdy4f4HV

Hawks coach Brian Goorjian believes Jessup will benefit enormously from his stint in Australia.

“He will give the team a real lift offensively, being a fantastic three-point shooter and a very good all-round player,” Goorjian said.

“He has a drive to play in the NBA and The Hawks will do everything possible to help him achieve his goal. He has a great work ethic and is an excellent teammate from all reports.”

Hawks co-owner Bryan Colangelo, and former NBA executive of the year at Philadelphia, has no doubts that Jessup is an NBA talent.

“With his elite level shooting ability, Justinian possesses a definable NBA skill which ideally complements the modern NBA game,” Colangelo said.

“Since speculation started about Justinian joining our program, I have heard from several teams who have him on their radar and are tracking his progress in advance of the upcoming NBA Draft.

LaMelo Ball is expected to be a top three pick in the 2020 NBA draft.Source:Getty Images

“Our collective goal this season is to get Justinian prepared for his promising basketball future by focusing on his strength and physicality while refining and enhancing his overall on-court skills.”

NBL Commissioner Jeremy Loeliger is thrilled to have Jessup as the latest NBL Next Star, joining Josh Giddey (Adelaide 36ers) and Mojave King (Cairns Taipans) as Next Stars this season.

“We have even heard talk out of NBA clubs that suggests that having pre-agreed to play this season with the Hawks makes Justinian more attractive as a potential draft pick in 2020,” Loeliger said.

“But in the event that he goes undrafted, we know plenty of NBA teams that will continue to have their eyes on the NBL to track his development ahead of their following season.”

Jessup joins Emmett Naar, Deng Deng, Dan Grida, Deng Adel, Sam Froling, Isaac White, Tyler Harvey, Cam Bairstow, Max Darling and Justin Simon on the Hawks’ roster for the upcoming season.

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