They say good things come to those who wait. And for Wichita State forward — and Hudson Valley resident — Cleanthony Early, the wait was well worth it as his name was called in the second round of Thursday’s NBA Draft by none other than the New York Knicks.
There truly is no place like home.
In fact, it was the New York Knicks’s first draft pick (34th overall) that nabbed the 23-year-old Bronx native. A resident of Middletown, Early attended Pine Bush High School and Sullivan County Community College, where he was twice named the Division III NJCAA player of the year. Having struggled throughout his early life (he watched his cousin pass away on the street due to gunshot wounds, and lost his brother to a heart attack in 2010), Early was recruited to Wichita State in 2012, where he competed for two seasons and averaged 16.4 points per game. Early lead the Shockers to an undefeated regular 2013-2014 season, an impressive feat considering the last time it occurred was in 1990-1991.
Though he’s played in Kansas for half of his college career, Early told the New York Post’s Steve Serby: “I’m a New York kid. I grew up in the Bronx. I’ve been in Brooklyn, I’ve been in Queens, I’ve played basketball a lot of places in New York. It’s pretty much the same, it’s that gritty attitude, that New York City swag.”
It’s only fitting that he’s returning to the Empire state for his NBA debut.