An Orioles draft pick is heading to All-Star weekend — in the NBA.
Milwaukee Bucks guard Pat Connaughton, the Orioles’ fourth-round draft pick out of Notre Dame in 2014, will compete in the NBA Slam Dunk Contest on Feb. 15 in Chicago, the league announced Tuesday.
Connaughton, 27, will join the Orlando Magic’s Aaron Gordon, the Los Angeles Lakers’ Dwight Howard and the Miami Heat’s Derrick Jones Jr. in the annual competition.
Playing in his second season with the NBA-leading Bucks (42-7), Connaughton is averaging 4.9 points, 4.4 and 1.6 assists in 17.8 minutes per game while shooting 44.8% from the field and 31.0% from 3-point range.
The Orioles gave Connaughton a $428,000 signing bonus after he was the 121st overall pick in 2014. As of 2017, the team hadn’t attempted to recoup the bonus as a sign of good faith, even though he has played five seasons in the NBA and hasn’t pitched in the Orioles’ minor league system since appearing in six games for Short-A Aberdeen in 2014. He posted a 2.51 ERA in 14⅓ innings.
The Orioles still hold Connaughton’s baseball rights through 2020.
In an interview with The Baltimore Sun in January 2017, Connaughton said he was continuing to throw and thought he could be an All-Star in the major leagues, but wanted to see how his NBA career unfolded before making a decision.
"There could be a crossroads or there could not be," Connaughton said. "It is something where I want to get an opportunity in this sport and see what happens, but at the same time, if it doesn't look like that's going to happen and it's a case where I'm not going to play and I'm just going to drift away, I'm not going to say I'm not going to take a chance on the other sport.
“I like to think that as much as I have a passion for both sports, I also am a decently smart guy on the business side. I graduated from Notre Dame. It’s just one of those things where you have to try to balance that line as well as you can and make sure you give yourself the opportunity on both bridges before you burn one down.”
At a Brewers game in May 2019, Connaughton threw out the ceremonial first pitch that was just a bit outside.
After his senior season at Notre Dame ended with a run to the Elite Eight, Connaughton was picked in the second round, 41st overall, by the Brooklyn Nets in the 2015 NBA draft and dealt the same day with Mason Plumlee to the Portland Trail Blazers for former Maryland star Steve Blake and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson.
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After spending three seasons in Portland, where he averaged 3.7 points in 12.6 minutes per game, Connaughton signed a two-year, $3.3 million deal with the Bucks.