On Monday, Miye Oni took the latest step on a basketball journey that has hit the improbable narrative at nearly every turn.
The former Yale star signed a three-year contract with the Utah Jazz after being taken with the 58th overall pick in the NBA draft. Oni was drafted by the Golden State Warriors, who immediately traded his rights to the Jazz. The contract does not appear to be of the two-way variety and per Jeff Siegel, all three years are at the NBA minimum with the first fully guaranteed.
Oni got regular Summer League playing time and put up solid-if-not-spectacular stat lines in both Salt Lake (2 games, 9.5 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 1.5 APG) and Las Vegas (5 games, 8.2 PPG, 2.0 RPG, 2.8 APG). The all around wing play and three-and-D potential apparently did enough to impress an organization known for its outside-the-box roster building.
For Oni, it gives him the chance to break even more ground than he already has.
He became the Ivy League’s first draft pick in 24 years when his name was called in June, and would become just the fourth Yale player to appear in the NBA and first since Chris Dudley suited up for Portland in the 2002-03 season. And between Jeremy Lin’s explosion to the present, the only Ivy League alum to appear in the league was Cornell’s Jeff Foote, who played four games for New Orleans in 2012.
Oni could join that rarefied air just five years after he was on his way to play at Williams College, a Division III program in Massachusetts. As detailed in a great draft profile by John Templon (@nybuckets), Oni was a late riser who didn’t start attracting Division I interest until his senior year of high school. While offers from bigger programs eventually came, he stuck with Yale — the first school to recruit him — and flourished into the 2019 Ivy League Player of the Year.
For Yale, Oni’s shot at extreme visibility — especially with a team expected to contend — is a further feather in James Jones’ cap. The longtime Bulldogs coach signed an extension that runs through 2026 last month, and should yet again field a competitive team even without Oni, who had a year of eligibility remaining. The Bulldogs finished a 22-8 last season and earned a 14-seed in the NCAA tournament after winning the Ivy League Tournament. They fell to LSU in the first round after staging a furious second half comeback.
In the short term competing with a loaded Harvard team may be difficult but, now that the ink is dry, Jones can walk into living rooms and say that he’s put a player in the NBA. Of the coaches he’s competing with, only Tommy Amaker can say the same at his current program.