Newark, N.J. - As the nervous anticipation built with each passing pick, Andre Drummond tried to remain calm.
His mom, Christine, reached out to her 18-year-old son.
"My mom was holding my hand through the whole draft," Drummond said. "She was like, 'we're here, be patient, your name is going to be called soon.' "
They both were relieved and thrilled when the Detroit Pistons selected Drummond as the ninth pick overall in Thursday's NBA draft at the Prudential Center. It was an emotional moment for the family from Middletown.
Drummond, who left UConn after just one year, wiped away tears. It didn't matter to the 6-foot-10, 270-pound center that he dropped out of the top six, where he was projected to go.
"As soon as Toronto went by (at No. 8) and Detroit came up, I started breaking down because I thought of all the years I worked hard and all the struggles I went through playing basketball, just everything that I went through," Drummond said. "… Hearing my name being called is the greatest thing in the world."
Former UConn teammate, Jeremy Lamb, experienced similar elation and relief when the Houston Rockets drafted him at No. 12.
The usually stoic Lamb seemed almost overwhelmed by the moment. He was projected to go in the 10 to 16 range.
"It was tough," Lamb said. "I was just waiting. You see people go in front of you and you're happy for them as well. … It was still in the lottery. I was sweating. That was just me being anxious and nervous, but once I heard my name called, it was one of the greatest feelings."
It was another good NBA draft night for the UConn basketball program.
Lamb and Drummond are the 12th and 13th lottery picks in UConn history. They're also the third Husky duo to be selected in the lottery in the same year, joining Emeka Okafor and Ben Gordon (2004) and Rudy Gay and Hilton Armstrong (2006).
Both players had a hint that their respective future professional teams might take them.
Drummond worked out for Detroit in New York this week and received some positive feedback.
"They told me they liked me a lot and if I was still there, they would definitely take me," Drummond said.
Doubts about Drummond's desire and drive apparently turned off some teams with high lottery picks. He plans on proving people wrong once he arrives in Detroit.
"With help of my teammates … the organization and the family out there, all the talk about me not playing hard is going to be put to rest immediately," Drummond said.
Lamb, a 6-5 shooting guard, called being drafted by Houston "a great honor." He had little chance to showcase his skills during the pre-draft process after suffering an ankle injury during a workout with Toronto.
Houston met with him in New York on Wednesday.
"When I left the meeting, I had no idea," Lamb said. "I thought we did have a good meeting, though. It was tough with the ankle. But I think it was almost a good thing, because people tried to doubt my heart, doubt my competitiveness, and the whole time I competed when I was working on a bad ankle.
"It just showed my competitiveness and that I always want to push myself."
Both Huskies know after a brief post-draft celebration, reality hits. With lottery pick status come enormous expectations.
They'll have to fight for playing time.
That's fine with them.
"I'm going to go there and be ready to work hard and do what it takes," Lamb said.
Drummond plans on following some advice from former Husky Rudy Gay and Kevin Durant. He talked to the pair of NBA stars prior to the draft.
"They told me the same thing," he said. "Once you get drafted, just don't stop working hard because you didn't really make it yet. You just heard your name being called. Give it your all every single day and just work hard and you'll be fine."