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We knew the 2021 NCAA Tournament in Downtown Indianapolis would pay dividends for all parties involved down the road.

Maybe something we didn’t think about though is the advantage for the Indiana Pacers in the 2021 NBA Draft.

If the Pacers chose a player who appeared for a long while in Indy during the tournament, that could make their transition into the NBA even more seamless.

Last night, Kevin Pritchard and the Pacers made former Oregon Duck Chris Duarte their first-round selection at #13. Duarte is coming off a season where he averaged over 17 points a game and shooting 42 percent from beyond-the-arc.

Duarte though isn’t heading to Indianapolis for an important portion of his life for the first time. The 24-year-old was inside the March Madness bubble with Dana Altman and the Ducks.

Oregon lost to USC in the Sweet 16. But Duarte’s time in the 317 was enough to make him feel comfortable. And that’s all that matters.

Duarte may be older, but that shouldn’t be viewed as a bad thing. He comes in with maturity. This isn’t a teenage prospect arriving that will need some added grooming.

The Dominican Republic native is ready to win now. The newest Pacer jumped on The Ride with JMV Friday afternoon to break down what’s to come at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

“I want to help my team win and I’m not just a shooting guard,” Duarte said. “I’m a great shooter, but can also put the ball on the floor and defend. I want to be Chris Duarte on and off the court. That’s what the Pacers are getting. Being older is not something that I can control. I’ve taken a different path coming from a different country. But I have experience; I’m ready.”

Hell yeah.

Catch the full interview with Duarte here ⬇️

https://omny.fm/shows/the-ride-with-jmv/best-of-jmv-7-30

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