Niang happy to be with Pacers, eager to prove doubters wrong

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CHICAGO, IL - MARCH 25: Georges Niang #31 of the Iowa State Cyclones drives against Isaiah Wilkins #21 of the Virginia Cavaliers in the second half during the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament Midwest Regional at United Center on March 25, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Georges Niang spent the night of the NBA Draft at home with his family and friends. The Iowa State star was absent from many mock drafts, but optimistic he would hear his name called.

When pick No. 50 came to the podium in the second round, his name was announced as the newest Indiana Pacer.

“A lot of the mock drafts were wrong,” smiled Niang, meeting the Indianapolis media Tuesday afternoon. “I was hoping I would get drafted, but I didn’t know it was going to be to a great place like Indianapolis, and I couldn’t be more thankful.”

A two-time All-American with the Cyclones, the knock against Niang according to draft analysts was limited athleticism.

“The people that are saying those things,” said Niang, “they’re allowed to have their own thoughts. I mean, if they want to lace up and play one-on-one, come here and play.

“I think the biggest thing for me is that my basketball IQ allows me to know the scouting report, the schemes up and down so I can be in the right spots.”

Intelligence and playmaking ability are the two traits Pacers’ General Manager Kevin Pritchard pointed out the night of the draft that drew the team to selecting Niang.

“I’m here to make plays for others, make things easier on PG’s life,” added Niang. “Set screens for Jeff, get Monta open shots, the thing is, I know who I am. I’m not going to go out here and try to shoot two-dribble step-back jumpers. That’s not who I am. I’m going to play-make for others, get guys involved, and when the opportunity’s there to score, make plays, I’m gonna do that.”

Niang comes to the circle city after completing his senior year with the Cyclones, averaging 20.2 points and 6.2 rebounds per game in 2015-16, when he was a consensus second-team All-American. Now, he’ll join a Pacers’ roster that he finds quite appealing.

“With the pieces they brought in before the draft and the pieces they already have here,” explained Niang, “I don’t think I could have asked for a better fit. I feel like one of my best abilities is my basketball IQ, my versatility, and my play-making ability. That all fits in with the guys they have in this locker room and the coaches they brought in to get the job done.”