Pat Connaughton is a man with options.
The 22-year-old is fresh off an accomplished basketball career at Notre Dame, having averaged 12.5 points and 7.4 rebounds this season for a Fighting Irish team that advanced to the Elite Eight. He’s also a Baltimore Orioles pitching prospect, flashing his mid-90s fastball last summer in six minor league relief appearances.
But while Connaughton’s baseball future appears bright, the Arlington, Mass., native is making it clear that hoops is his top priority right now.
?I?m here,? Connaughton told reporters at the NBA draft combine in Chicago, via the Boston Herald. ?It?s all basketball.
?I?m trying to get the word out there that I?m two feet in, I?m 100 percent in. If I was one foot in, I wouldn?t be in because I?d be trying to make millions and millions of dollars playing baseball right now. Until I don?t make an NBA roster, I?m looking to be an NBA basketball player.?
Connaughton, one of three Massachusetts natives on Notre Dame’s 2014-15 roster, garnered rave reviews at the combine, wowing observers with his athleticism.
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The 6-foot-5 swingman also spoke about the stigma placed on two-sport athletes such as himself.
“It?s funny,? Connaughton said, via the Herald. ?I?m in limbo. The baseball people are like, ?Oh, he?s basketball athletic.? The basketball people are like, ?Well, he plays baseball, so he?s probably not that athletic.? So I?m in limbo. The baseball scouts dropped me to draft me in the fourth round because they were worried about basketball. All the basketball scouts don?t want to draft me because they?re worried about baseball. So it?s just a matter of getting the word out there that I?m here to play basketball and I?m hopefully as athletic as anybody here in this combine.
?The love of basketball, the time and effort I?ve put into it — I?d be doing a disservice to myself if I didn?t see how far I could go in basketball before I tried to do anything in baseball. Because if you look at it realistically, you can?t ever come back to basketball. The athleticism you need, the year off from basketball can kill you. It?s a lot more realistic to go to baseball after basketball than it is to put basketball on hold.?
Thumbnail photo via Andrew Weber/USA TODAY Sports Images