Matas Buzelis

2024 NBA Draft: Who is Matas Buzelis? What to know about the Bulls' newest member

The Bulls drafted Buzelis with the No. 111 pick in the 2024 NBA Draft

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Matas Buzelis told ESPN after being drafted with the No. 11 pick in the 2024 NBA Draft by the Bulls that he "wanted to be here."

That's because Buzelis, the 19-year-old forward from the G-League Ignite, is from here.

MORE: Matas Buzelis Q&A: Growing up in Chicago, playing in the G-League, transitioning to the NBA

Buzelis was born and raised in Chicago. His parents are both Lithuanian-born and former professional basketball players; his father for the Lithuanian Basketball League. Initially a strong swimmer, he shifted his focus to basketball after playing one Covid-shortened season at Hinsdale Central High School in the Chicago suburbs.

But he didn't expect to reap anything from his athletic career.

"I didn't really think I was gonna be a professional athlete until my freshman year of high school," Buzelis told NBC Sports Chicago in an exclusive interview in March. "I was always a swimmer and a video game player. I didn't think I was gonna be a professional athlete."

He transferred to two different boarding schools before graduating. By the end of high school, Buzelis earned Gatorade Player of the Year, McDonald's All-American, and was selected to play in the Jordan Brand Classic and the Nike Hoops Summit.

From there, he decided to play for the G-League Ignite team, opting against playing in college, before the 2024 NBA Draft. He played one strong season with the Ignite, flexing his versatile offensive abilities as a big man and his stalwart rim protection.

Buzelis was initially projected to go in the top-five picks in the NBA Draft, at minimum the top 10. But he fell one pick further to the Bulls, exactly where he wanted to go.

"I'd feel good about it. Hometown hero!" Buzelis told NBC Sports Chicago when asked how he would feel if the Bulls drafted him. "It'd be fun to play for Chicago. Just watching them when I was younger, watching Derrick Rose play. It'd be a dope experience."

In 26 games with the Ignite this season, Buzelis averaged 14.3 points, 6.9 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game. He shot 44.5% from the field and 27.3% from beyond the arc. Buzelis also posted 2.1 blocks and 0.9 steals per game, flexing his versatility on the defensive side of the floor, too.

The Bulls showed interest in Buzelis' teammate, Ron Holland II, sources told NBC Sports Chicago's K.C. Johnson. But the Pistons snagged him early with the No. 5 pick in the draft. But, as aforementioned, Buzelis was widely expected to be gone by that point.

Instead, he fell into the Bulls' lap. What are they getting in the 6-foot-10 forward?

"I'd say they're getting a versatile player that's gonna come to work every day, even on bad days. They're gonna get a person who, whatever the coach tells him to do, he's gonna do it," Buzelis said.

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