North Vancouver's Robert Sacre drafted by Los Angeles Lakers
Former Handsworth secondary school basketball star Robert Sacre will be taking his talents to Venice Beach next season after being selected 60th overall by the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2012 NBA draft.
Sacre spent the past four years with Spokane's Gonzaga Bulldogs, where he finished sixth all-time in rebounds, second in blocks and 21st in scoring. In his final season, Sacre averaged 11.6 points, 6.3 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game while shooting a very respectable 51 per cent.
He's the first B.C.-bred pick since Captain Canada Steve Nash was drafted in the first round by the Phoenix Suns 16 years ago.
Mock drafts had the seven-foot centre going in the mid-second round. But after the New Orleans Hornets selected Kentucky forward Darius Miller, Sacre slid to the final pick of the draft.
"We were thinking mid-second round, but this is never about the number, it's about the team," Keith Kreiter, Sacre's Illinios-based agent, told The Outlook.
"We're so thrilled he's going to the Lakers, one of the most storied franchises in the NBA."
Kreiter said Sacre watched the draft with family in Louisiana and will head to Los Angeles in the next few days. Starting July 9, Sacre will begin playing in the NBA Summer League — an annual event aimed at giving rookies and other NBA youngsters the chance for high-level competition in the off-season.
While at Gonzaga, Sacre earned a reputation as a tenacious defender and Kretier said that reputation will help Sacre on the world's premier basketball stage.
"We're very, very excited about the future. He's going to thrive in that system. If he becomes a defensive specialist, Robert will stop everyone who gets in front of him."
Currently, the Lakers have two All-Star big men, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum, on the roster. But the aging Gasol has been the subject of trade talks — Gasol was even part of a failed trade for superstar guard Chris Paul last year — and if moved before next season, Sacre could see a bump in his minutes as a result.
Before heading south to join the ranks of the NCAA, Sacre was the the standout star on the Handsworth Royals varsity squad. Scare's gregarious personality, combined with his size and athleticism made him popular with both the media and a swarm of college recruiters, according to his former high school coach Randy Storey.
"Rob was a wonderful guy and his physical talents were tremendous. There were 42 universities recruiting him when he was here," said Storey.
"That physical stuff is what had those guys drooling. But his personality characteristics, the stuff that wasn't so obvious, was what I think was his best trait. He has a great ability to make people around him feel better. He is an unselfish, supportive, team-dynamic kind of guy."
When Sacre was in Grade 11, he led the Royals to the 2006 AAA provincial championship crown. It was a whirlwind season, Storey recalled, that saw the team travel extensively, gain media exposure and even receive a sponsorship from Nike.
"It was like we were traveling with the fifth Beatle," said Storey.
"I've had a lot of emails and texts today. It's exciting, everyone wants to talk about Rob."