BROOKLYN, N.Y. — When Jordan Poole declared for the NBA Draft after just two seasons, he had his fair share of detractors.
People said Poole was being rash. That he was leaving too early. That he would benefit from another year in college, that he was dooming himself to a career in Europe or the G League.
On Thursday night, Poole took the first step towards proving them wrong. The Golden State Warriors selected Poole with the 28th pick in the draft. He’ll be playing alongside Stephen Curry next season, making nearly $2 million on a guaranteed contract.
“I think it was just being able just to trust myself, follow my deams,” Poole said. “Just having hope and faith. That’s all I’m giong to really say on that. Being able to be in the position I’m in now, I feel like I made the right decision.”
Poole is John Beilein’s last first-round pick at Michigan, and by getting into the first round, extends Michigan’s streak to four years in a row with a first-round pick. Ignas Brazdeikis was also drafted, going to the Knicks in the second round. Charles Matthews slipped out of the draft after suffering an ACL tear during a workout.
At Michigan, Poole left a legacy by hitting a game-winning shot against Houston in the second round of March Madness in 2018. That win eventually propelled Michigan to the Final Four, and etched Poole’s name into program lore.
In his second year with the Wolverines, Poole’s play was marked by its inconsistency. He shot 36.9 percent from 3-point range, a key part of a team that set a program record for consecutive wins to start the season, but that number dropped to 32.7 percent in conference play. In big games, particularly the Big Ten Tournament final against Michigan State, Poole struggled, and frustrated Beilein.
Any NBA team could have looked at Poole and seen an inconsistent gunner, or a gifted player who can play with or without the ball, and shoot it, too.
The Warriors, evidently, saw the latter.
“It’ll definitely be amazing,” Poole said of playing alongside Stephen Curry in Golden State. “Being able too know at the same time we’re out there doing the same thing, and they’re definitely going to teach me some stuff right away and they’re definitely going to invite me into the league.
“Being ready for all challenges, but more than anything just coming in ready to get to work and be excited.”