Drafted by Pacers, Niang ready to prove himself in NBA

Randy Peterson

The guy who essentially grew up in the shadow of others who were better than him throughout the Boston-area Amateur Athletic Union circuit — primarily Nerlens Noel — is another step closer to realizing a dream.

Georges Niang was picked by the Indiana Pacers in the second round of the NBA Draft Thursday night. He was the 50th pick of the 60-player draft.

The former Iowa State two-time All-American still must make the team; nothing is guaranteed to most second-rounders, but that’s all right.

Iowa State's Georges Niang (31) drives to the basket during the Cyclones' home game against Kansas State this past season.

“I’m used to proving myself to people who might doubt my ability,” Niang told The Register last week.

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The 6-foot-8 power forward/center averaged 20.5 points and 6.5 rebounds while leading Iowa State to its fifth NCAA Tournament in a row last season. He was a 39.2 percent 3-point shooter. He upped his scoring average to 28.7 in three NCAA Tournament games.

“When coaches came to watch our games back home, I wasn’t always the guy who stuck out,” Niang told The Register last season. “I was just the guy working hard, doing my best to be the best player I could be.”

Niang is the eighth Iowa State player drafted since 2000, and first since Royce White was a Houston first-round pick in 2012.

Niang isn’t a great athlete. He’s not been a great defender. He’s not a great leaper.

“He’s a power forward who passes like a guard,” said a scout who didn’t want his name used.

Niang’s basketball IQ is exceptional. He’s a good locker room guy.

“Because of his ability to see the floor and because he can shoot — he’s an attractive player,” ESPN college basketball analyst Fran Fraschilla said. “Don’t overlook the fact that he has a great feel for the game.

“There’s 250 players in the league; not everybody is a superstar.

“It would not surprise me at all to see Georges stick around the league 10 or so years.”

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