ATLANTA, June 21, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- The world famous Harlem Globetrotters held their 10th annual player draft last night, selecting a host of world-class athletes, as well as a renowned comic actor who is passionate about playing the game. For the first time ever, the Globetrotters' draft took place live via the social media platform Twitter (@Globies).
The Globetrotters selected five players, including 2016 College Slam Dunk Champion Devan Douglas; 2016 Summer Olympians Missy Franklin, who won four gold medals in swimming at the 2012 games in London, and Neymar Jr., the captain of Brazil's national soccer team and a major basketball fan; actor Kevin Hart, a four-time MVP of the NBA All-Star Celebrity Game; and golfer Jordan Speith, who in addition to winning two career majors by the age of 22, comes from a family with strong basketball pedigree.
The team also made an honorary draft selection of Turner Broadcasting's popular longtime NBA sideline reporter Craig Sager, who has continued to work throughout the past year while battling leukemia.
"We like to think outside the box with our draft, so we look at all different kinds of athletes that could have the qualities of a Harlem Globetrotter," said Sweet Lou Dunbar, the Globetrotters' director of player personnel and coach. "Traditionally we have looked for talent at the annual college slam dunk contest, where this year Devan Douglas certainly stood out for us.
"But we also look beyond the court, for those athletes and entertainers that have the qualities of not only being great on the court or the field, but also being a good person off of it. Those are the most important traits that make a true Globetrotter."
Following is a full recap of the Globetrotters' draftees:
- Devan Douglas is the 2016 College Slam Dunk Champion, earning the title at this year's Final Four in Houston. The high flyer starred for the University of Mary in Bismarck, N.D., where he helped the Marauders improve by 10 wins over the previous season as a senior and advance to the Northern Sun Conference Tournament semifinals. The Clinton, Iowa, native played his first two seasons at Kirkwood College where he finished in the top-20 in both scoring and rebounding in the Iowa Community College Athletic Association.
- Missy Franklin began her international career at the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials when she was just 13. She won four gold medals at the 2012 Olympic Games: 100-meter and 200-meter backstroke, 800-meter freestyle relay and 400-meter medley relay, and won bronze with the 400-meter freestyle relay. "Missy the Missile" is expected to be a big part of Team USA at this summer's Rio Olympic Games. The 6-2 star played high school basketball in Colorado (Regis Jesuit High School) and can palm a regulation-size basketball.
- A comedian and actor, Kevin Hart is a four-time MVP in the NBA All-Star Celebrity Game. The 5-4 guard played basketball at George Washington High School in Philadelphia. Hart has appeared in several movies, including Scary Movie, Soul Plane, Death at a Funeral, Get Hard, The Wedding Ringer, Ride Along, and the newly-released Central Intelligence.
- Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior, commonly known as Neymar Jr., is a Brazilian professional soccer star who plays for Spanish club FC Barcelona. At the age of 19, Neymar won the 2011 South American Footballer of the Year award and is known for his playful style and incredible footwork. The captain of the Brazilian national team, Neymar will play in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio. He is a big fan of basketball, and a recent viral video exhibited his dribbling skills (link here).
- Jordan Spieth became just the sixth golfer in history to win the Masters and the U.S. Open in the same year (2015), and the first male since 1922 to claim multiple majors before his 22nd birthday. He comes from a family with a strong basketball background, as his mother played hoops at Moravian College and his younger brother currently plays for Brown University. Spieth recently bought a mansion that includes an indoor basketball court in Dallas.
- Craig Sager (honorary draft pick) is a veteran NBA basketball sideline reporter who is famous for his colorful suits and genial nature. He has been publicly battling acute myeloid leukemia (AML) since 2014. Despite his health issues, Sager has continue working his role with TNT, most recently during the NBA Playoffs and Finals and is slated to work the basketball games during the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio. He is the first-ever honorary Harlem Globetrotter draft pick.
Past draftees have included future Globetrotters, as well as high-profile celebrity sports figures who embody what the Harlem Globetrotters are all about – fun, entertaining family-friendly basketball.
Four current team members came to the roster as draft picks: Anthony "Ant" Atkinson (2007), the first-ever Globetrotters' draft selection and a college All-American and national champion, former Siena sharp-shooter Tay "Firefly" Fisher (2008), dunking and ball handling sensation William "Bull" Bullard (2008) and Corey "Thunder" Law (2013), holder of the Guinness World Records® record for the longest basketball shot (109 feet 9 inches). Celebrity draft picks have included: Mo'ne Davis (2015), Mariano Rivera (2013), Usain Bolt (2012), Lionel Messi (2011), Tim Howard (2009), and Patrick Ewing, Jr. (2008).
About the Harlem Globetrotters
The Harlem Globetrotters® are legendary worldwide, synonymous with one-of-a-kind family entertainment and great basketball skills for the past 90 years. Throughout their history, the Original Harlem Globetrotters have showcased their iconic talents in 122 countries and territories on six continents, often breaking down cultural and societal barriers while providing fans with their first-ever basketball experience. Proud inductees of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, the Globetrotters have entertained hundreds of millions of fans – among them popes, kings, queens, and presidents – over nine thrilling decades. Sponsored by World Vision, Greyhound Lines and Baden Sports, Harlem Globetrotters International, Inc. is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Herschend Enterprises, the largest family-owned themed entertainment company in the U.S. For the latest news and information about the Harlem Globetrotters, visit the Globetrotters' official Web site: www.harlemglobetrotters.com and follow them on Twitter @Globies.
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SOURCE Harlem Globetrotters