Dalano Banton is going home.
The Toronto Raptors drafted the former Husker with the 46th pick of the 2021 NBA Draft on Thursday night.
“Dalano came to Nebraska two years ago with a goal of wanting to reach the NBA and has worked hard to make that goal a reality,” Coach Fred Hoiberg said in a release. “Everyone in our program is happy for Dalano because so few people are selected each year. It should also serve as motivation for our current team with the system we play that gives our players an opportunity to work in an NBA-style system.”
The 6-foot-9 point guard entered his name in the 2021 draft and although he didn’t receive an NBA Draft Combine invitation, he performed well at the G League Elite Camp and his agency’s pro day in Chicago. Based on the feedback he received, he decided to keep his name in the draft rather than returning to Nebraska for another season.
Banton — a Toronto native and 4-star, top-100 prospect coming out of high school — spent his freshman year at Western Kentucky before sitting out the 2019-20 season as a transfer redshirt at Nebraska. He started 22 of 27 games for the Huskers in 2020-21, averaging 9.6 points, 5.9 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 1.0 steals and 0.9 blocks in 27.3 minutes per game while shooting 41.1% from the field, 24.7% from 3 and 65.9% from the free-throw line. He led the team in rebounds, assists and blocks and recorded the program’s second triple-double in a win over NAIA Doane in December.
In the 12 games before Nebraska’s month-long COVID-19 shutdown, Banton was one of the most versatilely productive players in the country, averaging 12.6 points, 6.8 rebounds, 5.1 assists and 1.3 steals in 30.0 minutes per game while shooting 44.0% from the field, 28.2% from 3 and 69.1% from the free-throw line.
In the 15 games after Nebraska returned to the court, Banton averaged 7.1 points, 5.1 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 0.7 steals in 25.1 minutes per game while shooting 34.5% from the field, 21.4% from 3 and 60.6% from the free-throw line (while getting to the line half as often). He came off the bench in Nebraska’s last five games after starting the first 22.
Banton is the first Canadian the Raptors have drafted. He’s the 28th player in program history to get drafted and the seventh taken in the first two rounds. He is the first player recruited by Fred Hoiberg’s staff to Lincoln to earn a shot at the NBA. Hoiberg coached nine different players who went on to play in the NBA while at Iowa State, four of whom got drafted.
Banton is the second Husker drafted in the last three years, joining Isaiah Roby who went 45th in the 2019 draft. After playing just three games as a rookie, Roby appeared in 61 games with 34 starts for the Oklahoma City Thunder this past season.
Fans should get their first chance to see Banton play in a Toronto jersey at the 2021 NBA Summer League in Las Vegas which is scheduled for Aug. 8-17.
Jacob is in his third year with Hail Varsity covering Husker athletics. He has also written extensively for SB Nation’s Bright Side of the Sun and The Creightonian. His love of basketball can best be described as an obsession and if you need to find him, he’s probably in a gym somewhere watching, coaching or playing hoops.