Shan Foster never worked out for the Dallas Mavericks this spring, nor did he have any contact with the NBA team.
So when they picked him No. 51 overall in the second round of Thursday’s annual NBA Draft, Foster was briefly taken aback.
Nonetheless, the former Vanderbilt basketball star quickly found himself in the midst of a noisy celebration with his family in New York City, eager to move on to the next chapter of his career.
“From childhood, every kid dreams of playing in the NBA,” he said moments after being drafted. “Just to hear your name called on the big stage, it’s a blessing.”
Most analysts had pegged Foster to be picked late in the first round or early in the second. DraftExpress.com got it exactly right by predicting Dallas would grab him in the No. 51 slot.
It was the only pick in the draft for the Mavericks.
Mainly on the strength of his shooting ability, Foster departed VU this spring as the school’s all-time leading scorer and was also named 2008 Southeastern Conference Player of the Year.
“Shan is one of premier shooters in this draft,” an NBA scout told The City Paper. “Anyone who saw him this past season knows that he can step into any level of basketball and make open shots with great range.
“Add to that the type of person he is, and he is definitely the kind of player you want on your team. He needs to improve his ball-handling ability, but he will with his work ethic. Everyone needs guys that can shoot the ball like him.”
Foster admitted to feeling nervous Thursday as the draft entered its final stages and his name had yet to be called.
“I thought I would go sooner, but God works in mysterious ways,” he said. “You never know what He has in store for you, but I’m very optimistic about this.
“I’m definitely excited. Dallas is a great place and they have a great team there. I look forward to the opportunity to go in, hopefully make the team and contribute.”
Foster might be an ideal fit in Dallas. The Mavs shot just 35.2 percent from three-point range this past season, 20th in the NBA.
Foster is the second Vanderbilt player in two years to be drafted. A year ago, Derrick Byars was taken in the second round by the Philadelphia 76ers but did not make the team.
Foster is the 33rd Commodore all-time to be drafted. No other former VU players are currently playing in the NBA.
Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings predicts success for the 6-foot-6 Foster, who will likely play shooting guard as a pro.
“We’re very proud of Shan and we congratulate him on being drafted,” Stallings said in a statement. “We’re excited for him and we hope it’s a good situation and opportunity seeing that it was their only draft pick.
“I hope that since he’s the only pick in this draft and that it enhances his chances of making their team. I’m very confident that if he makes the team that they’ll find out what we found out in his four years here – that he is one of the most prolific shooters around.”
Former Tennessee guard Chris Lofton was not drafted Thursday. Nashville native Jamont Gordon, a Mississippi State standout, was not picked after choosing to bypass his senior season and make himself eligible for the draft.