Texas center Mo Bamba, who touts an NBA draft combine-record 7-foot-10 wingspan, was taken by the Orlando Magic with the sixth pick in Thursday's NBA draft.
Bamba, who has celebrated his New York roots while in Brooklyn at the Barclays Center, has drawn comparisons to Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert. Unlike Gobert, however, Bamba has developed a 3-point shot to go with his 7-foot, 234-pound frame.
"It means the world to me, to come back to the city and be drafted right where I started everything," the Harlem native told ESPN after being selected. "It's just surreal to me. I mean, words can't describe how I feel right now."
In his lone season with the Longhorns, he averaged 12.9 points, 10.5 rebounds and 3.7 blocked shots per game. He was second in the nation in blocks among Division I teams, and his 15 double-doubles led the Big 12.
Asked about his goals as a pro, he said: "When it's all said and done, I want to walk across another stage and I want to put on a jacket that has this little seal that says 'Hall of Fame,'" he said. "There is a lot to do before there. It's a lofty goal, but the mindset that I am going to have to have to do that is going to be a special one.
"There's a lot of goals in between that. I definitely want to be defensive player of the year. I truly believe I can be that caliber of a defender very early on in my career. I'm just excited."
Bamba has dedicated himself to improving his shot, working with noted shooting specialist Drew Hanlen.
"It's very important ... I mean, have you seen the direction of the league?" Bamba said. "It's very important for me because I want to be a guy who can stay on the floor for the last four, five minutes of the game. To be able to stretch the floor and step out and shoot and space the floor like that. It'll open up the floor for a lot of my teammates."
Bamba said Orlando expected him to contribute right away.
"I see myself fitting in right away as far as the trend of bigs trying to do it all," he said. "But it really comes down to defense. You are who you can guard in the NBA, and as long as you can guard multiple positions you can stay on the floor. And as long as you can shoot the ball you can stay on the floor."
It is the second year in a row the Magic had the sixth overall pick in the draft, having drafted 6-10 Jonathan Isaac a year ago. Also known as a shot blocker, Isaac was limited to 27 games due to injuries and averaged 5.4 points and 3.7 rebounds.
Orlando's management team, headed by president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman and general manager John Hammond, is directing the team's draft for only the second year.
The Magic will also have a new leader on the bench in coach Steve Clifford, who was hired on May 30 to replace Frank Vogel. Clifford is Orlando's fifth head coach since Stan Van Gundy was fired in 2012 after coaching the team's last winning season.
Information from The Associated Press was included in this report.