SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Jazz selected University of Kansas center Udoka Azubuike with the No. 27 pick of the NBA draft Wednesday night, after a series of moves that also reportedly landed the Jazz Syracuse wing player Elijah Hughes.
Azubuike, a 7-footer from Nigeria, gives Utah a rim protector and interior defender who can be a backup center to spell Rudy Gobert. He is also an accurate shooter around the basket.
During his four-year career with the Jayhawks, Azubuike set an NCAA record with a .749 career field goal percentage. He averaged 12.3 points, 7.9 rebounds, and 2.0 blocks in 87 career games at Kansas.
As a senior, Azubuike played 31 games, averaging 13.7 points, 10.5 rebounds and 2.6 blocks in 27.7 minutes per game, and was named the Big 12 Player of the Year.
Azubuike’s selection came as a minor surprise. The Jazz were widely expected to target a defender on the wing or a power forward who could play on the perimeter with their first-round pick.
Utah acquired the No. 27 pick and No. 38 pick from New York on Wednesday morning, sending the No. 23 pick and the rights to Ante Tomic to the Knicks.
Tomic, a 7-foot-2 center from Croatia, never appeared in a game for the Jazz since being selected in the second round of the 2008 NBA draft.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports the Jazz traded three-year big man Tony Bradley and that No. 38 pick to the Detroit Pistons for cash and future considerations. That could indicate further moves in free agency for post players.
After Vanderbilt guard Saben Lee — whose first college offer was from Weber State — went No. 38 to the Pistons, the New Orleans Pelicans selected the 6-foot-6 Syracuse playmaker Hughes and Wojnarowski immediately reported Hughes was going to Utah.
“The Jazz are going to get a really high-level player here,” analyst Bobby Marks said on ESPN’s draft broadcast.
Hughes played one season at East Carolina and two at Syracuse, starting all 66 games in an Orange uniform. As a junior, Hughes averaged 19 points, 4.9 rebounds and 3.4 assists in 36.7 minutes per game. He shot 35.6% from 3 in his two years at Syracuse.
His 19 points per game led the ACC in scoring last season. ESPN reports the Jazz traded a future draft pick to take Hughes from New Orleans.