Miye Oni brings Bulldog pride to the NBA
On June 20, Yale basketball player Miye Oni ’20 B.A. was selected 58th in the second round of the NBA Draft by the Golden State Warriors, and was subsequently traded to the Utah Jazz. He represents the highest draft pick of a Yale player by the NBA since Tony Lavelli '49 by the Boston Celtics in 1949 — the inaugural season of the National Basketball Association. The last Ivy Leaguer to be drafted into the NBA was Jerome Allen in 1995.
Being drafted was the culmination of a lifelong dream for Oni — and a validation of just how far Yale basketball has come. In the past decade, says Head Coach James Jones, “We’ve won more championships, more games, and have participated in the NCAA tournament more than any other team in the Ivy League.” Jones has led the Bulldogs for 20 seasons and signed a contract extension in May to stay at Yale through 2025-2026. “We hope that young men and families realize that they can achieve anything by coming to Yale,” he says, “and anything includes being drafted into the NBA.”
Oni learned the news in his Northridge, California home, surrounded by his family. “We were going crazy – it was very exciting,” Oni said. “It means the world to my family and I just thank them and God for all of this.”
Growing up, Oni was a big L.A. Lakers fan and Kobe Bryant was his basketball hero. He had natural ability and dreamed of one day making it to the NBA, but he didn’t grow as fast as his middle school classmates. By high school, Oni began to doubt that he could play professionally. Though he shot up during his junior year (he’s now 6’6”) and made it on his varsity team, he didn’t have much in the way of highlight videos for colleges. But Oni joined a basketball club in southern California called the BTI AAU program, where he caught the eye of Yale Associate Head Coach Matt Kingsley, there to scout another player. Later, when Coach Jones saw a video of Oni, he knew he’d found a special player.
The past three seasons, Oni has distinguished himself at Yale as a powerful shooting guard with poster-worthy dunks. He was named Ivy League Player of the Year this past winter with leading statistics in nearly every category, including scoring, assists, and free throws. He was also a unanimous first team All-Ivy selection for two straight years and scored in the double figures in all but two games he appeared in.
“Everyone at Yale has helped me along the way, and my coaches and teammates have been instrumental in my growth as a player and a person,” Oni says.
“Our entire staff works with each individual in our program to become their very best,” Coach Jones says. “As much as the rules permit, and our players want to work, we put the time in. It was an awesome feeling watching ESPN last night with my family and hearing Miye’s name called.”