First he was a Washington Wizard.
Then he was a Philadelphia 76er.
Nate Wolters ended the 2013 NBA draft as a member of the Milwaukee Bucks. The St. Cloud Tech graduate turned South Dakota State All-American point guard was traded twice before he finally knew where he would begin his professional career late Thursday night.
At his parents’ home looking a little tired, Wolters was relieved it was all over and that his future was about six-plus hours down the road on Interstate Highway 94.
“This was a pretty crazy experience,” Wolters said. “I didn’t know what to expect coming into tonight. Milwaukee’s going to be a great fit. I liked it when I worked out there. I’m going to go there and work hard and try to help them win games.
“I liked the city when I was there. I think it’s a perfect fit.”
The 6-foot-5, 196-pound Wolters was originally taken with the 38th overall pick in the second round by the Washington Wizards. Washington then shipped him to Philadelphia, which had already drafted a point guard in Syracuse’s Michael Carter Williams with the No. 11 pick.
Before Wolters knew it, his cell phone started to ring with a Wisconsin number on it. He ignored it at first thinking it was a random call. Once his agent, Jared Karnes, got ahold of him, Wolters finally found out he was headed to Milwaukee.
The Bucks traded Providence guard Ricky Ledo to Philadelphia, who then traded Ledo to Dallas, and Milwaukee finally ended up with Wolters. That’s how crazy it got on this draft night.
“I ended the call from Wisconsin right away. I thought I was already drafted,” Wolters said. “But that number kept calling and my agent called and he said I was going to Milwaukee. I realized I had to call them back. It was a crazy couple of minutes.”
Wolters was joined by his uncle and cousin, parents, two sisters and their husbands, and three nieces to watch the draft. Playing just a state away feels like a blessing for him and for his family.
“They’re really excited about Milwaukee,” Wolters said. “I know they were getting a little nervous with all the trades. We weren’t sure what was going to happen, but it worked out. I’m glad where I ended up.”
Wolters averaged 22.3 points, 5.6 rebounds and 5.8 assists per game during his senior season at South Dakota State. He was one of four players in NCAA Division I history with at least 2,000 points, 600 rebounds and 600 assists in their careers. He led SDSU to back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances in 2012 and 2013. The Jackrabbits lost in the second round both seasons.
He graduated from Tech in 2009, having guided the Tigers to consecutive third-place finishes at the Class 4A state tournament in 2008 and 2009.
Wolters will wake up early and get on a 7:15 a.m. flight Friday morning to Milwaukee. After a news conference and meetings with the team, he’ll head back to St. Cloud to prepare to play with the Bucks’ NBA Summer League team in Las Vegas.
The Bucks made the NBA Eastern Conference playoffs as the No. 8 seed this past season, but lost in the first round to eventual league champion Miami. Milwaukee went 38-44 last season and was led by starting point guard Brandon Jennings, who is a restricted free agent this offseason. Jennings averaged 17.5 points and 6.5 assists per game last year.
The Bucks also had point guards Monta Ellis and Ish Smith on their roster last season. Ellis averaged 19.2 points a game last season, but opted out of the final year of his contract with Milwaukee and won’t return.
“They had a good back court. They made the playoffs and had a good team last year,” Wolters said. “They have a new coach in Larry Drew. He was at my workout and seemed like a nice guy. I’m looking forward to working with him.”
Follow Andy Rennecke on Twitter @AndyRennecke.