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The off-court lives of 11 new NBA players, from Deandre Ayton to Grayson Allen

Trae Young, the NBA’s newest trendsetter? (Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

With the NBA’s Summer League’s Las Vegas schedule opening Friday, we’re about to get our first peek at the young players selected in last month’s draft. While a couple of these guys — namely Luka Doncic and Michael Porter Jr. — won’t be taking part, you’ll still hear plenty about them. Here’s a guide to familiarize yourself with this incoming crop of players, beyond simply basketball.

Mr. Personalities: Deandre Ayton (No. 1 pick, Phoenix Suns)

The stars aligned for Ayton at last month’s draft: He will continue his basketball career in Arizona.

A five-star prospect out of Hillcrest Prep Academy in Phoenix and a one-year player at the University of Arizona, Ayton was taken first by the Phoenix Suns.

But the Suns aren’t just getting a dominant center. They are getting his alter egos as well.

“If you’re someone who doesn’t like someone who has multiple personalities, then you shouldn’t draft Deandre Ayton,” UA basketball radio commentator Jeff Dean told the Wildcat Country podcast in May.

In an interview with SLAM Magazine, Ayton broke down the personalities. According to the article, Ayton will sometimes introduce himself as “Alejandro,” a man with a broken Latin accent. Then there is “Josh,” a middle-aged gentleman who likes to reminisce about family vacations. Last, there is “Eric.” When Ayton first introduced the world to Eric in an interview with SLAM Magazine in May, he said he was still getting to know the new persona. What he did know was that he enjoyed playing “NBA 2K” and “Fortnite.”

The Suns are clearly in for a four-in-one deal.

The future Mr. Jennifer Aniston?: Luka Doncic, SF, Real Madrid (No. 3 pick, rights traded to Dallas Mavericks)

On April 30, 2015, Doncic became the youngest player to debut with Real Madrid in Liga ACB, the top tier of Spain’s basketball system, at 16 years 2 months 4 days. That also made him the third-youngest player to play in Liga ACB behind Angel Rebolo and the Utah Jazz’s Ricky Rubio.

Two years later, Doncic helped Real Madrid secure the 2018 EuroLeague championship. Shortly after, the 19-year-old Slovenian was one of the top selections in the NBA draft.

But joining the ranks of NBA isn’t all he has his sights set on.

In an interview with Bleacher Report’s Howard Beck, Doncic said that high on his list of priorities is scoring a date with actress Jennifer Aniston, who is three decades his senior.

“I hear she’s single now,” Doncic told Beck. Immediately after the draft, he joked to reporters that he hadn’t heard from the “Friends” star.

That’s not all that is on Doncic’s to-do list. In the same interview with Beck, Doncic expressed his desire to “buy a tiger — like Mike Tyson.” And he might not be kidding: He already has a tiger tattoo on his left forearm. In fact, he is so enamored of the animal that, according to the New York Times, he wanted to have a tiger on the lining of his jacket on draft night.

“Yeah, that wasn’t going to happen,” Alyson Furch, Doncic’s publicist, told the Times.

The music man: Marvin Bagley III, PF/C, Duke (No. 2 pick, Sacramento Kings)

Everyone has his own way of taking mental breaks. For Bagley, music is his way.

In an interview with the Sacramento Bee, Bagley explained that it was a way for him to tell his truth.

“You have people who like to draw, who do yoga, run, jog and just do different things,” he told the Bee. “I think music is my way of showing people a different side of me, telling my story, how I got to this position that I’m in. Just showing the people in the world a different side of me.”

But music isn’t just a casual pastime for Bagley. The day before the draft, he released his mix tape, “Don’t Blink.”

According to the Bee, Bagley credits his father, Marvin Bagley Jr., for igniting his passion for music — listening to 1990s rap in the back seat of his father’s car.

“I think that’s where I kind of started to love music and just listen to all the rappers and all the things he’d play in the car,” Bagley told the Bee. “I’d be in the back just nodding my head listening to everything, Jay-Z, Nas, 2pac, rappers like that that helped get rap to where it is today. So, I’m definitely going to continue to listen to those and study the music and study hip-hop.”

Bagley is far from the first NBA player to declare his love for music or even drop his own record.

Perhaps NBA fans can expect a collaboration among Bagley; new teammate Iman Shumpert, who released his rap EP, “Substance Abuse;” and Portland’s Damian Lillard, also known by his stage name, “Dame Dolla.”

Next in line: Jaren Jackson Jr., PF, Michigan State (No. 4 pick, Memphis Grizzlies)

Jackson is no stranger to the NBA. His father, Jaren Jackson Sr., was a journeyman shooting guard who played for nine teams across 12 seasons. On draft night, Jackson’s mother, Terri, who is the director of operations at the Women’s National Basketball Players Association, could be found rocking her husband’s 1999 San Antonio Spurs championship ring.

The younger Jackson, who hit eight threes in his Summer League debut on Monday night, is ready to continue the family legacy, but he hasn’t always followed in his father’s footsteps — at least not when it comes to college fandom.

It might be assumed that because Jackson’s dad attended and played for Georgetown that he would hate Syracuse, the Hoyas’ main rival. And yet Jackson Jr. was an Orange fan growing up.

“I actually grew up liking them because of my dad, just to make him upset,” Jackson told CBS Detroit in March.

Well, safe to say no matter who your parents are or what their profession is, kids will always find a way to mess with them.

The king of the neighborhood: Mohamed Bamba, C, Texas (No. 6 pick, Orlando Magic)

Born in Harlem, Bamba credits the neighborhood for instilling his love of basketball. And he wears his roots “on his sleeve,” he told the Undefeated. “I think we owe it to the city to sort of branch out and be successful in the NBA,” said Bamba, who is just the latest basketball prospect from the neighborhood. Harlem is also home to the Harlem Globetrotters, the all-black Harlem Renaissance basketball team, Rucker Park — known for great pickup basketball — and helped bring up Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

Bamba’s parents emigrated from the Ivory Coast, and his grandparents were born and raised in Mali. In an entry he wrote for the Players’ Tribune, Bamba expressed his desire to make it so his father no longer had to be a taxi driver and prevent his mother from worrying. He said those were two reasons he chose the University of Texas.

His mother’s worrying may have come from the fact that the Bamba family lived in a housing project in a neighborhood known for drugs and violent crime. That forced Bamba to grow up “super-fast,” he told the Undefeated. He left Harlem in sixth grade when he started attending a boarding school in New Hampshire, but the old neighborhood has remained close to his heart.

The rising fashion icon: Trae Young, PG, Oklahoma (No. 5 pick, rights traded to Atlanta Hawks)

Young had social media buzzing the night of the draft. Not just because Hawks fans were over-the-moon about the trade that landed them the new rookie, but because of his outfit.

Taking a page out of the books of Draymond Green and LeBron James, he rocked suit shorts.

“It’s excruciating,” Boushra AlChabaoun, a stylist who outfitted a number of the draft prospects, told The Washington Post before the draft. “If they are not built like a model, it’s unacceptable.”

NBA draft fashion: Designer Boushra AlChabaoun adds some spectacle to a star-studded night

The look didn’t float everyone’s boat but, according to Young, it was meant to set him apart.

“I project my confidence and personality through what I wear, so for my draft-day style, I wanted something that was going to be as memorable as the biggest night of my life,” Young said in an email. “I worked with the team at Express to get a look that would put me in the history books as the first person to wear shorts to the draft, and I was able to do it with my little brother by my side. … In life, you need to look the part to play the part, so my fashion game is only going to get stronger.”

While his outfit can’t be compared to anything the draft has ever seen, his game has predecessors.

Young’s shooting ability has been compared to Stephen Curry’s, and his passing has drawn comparisons to Steve Nash’s skills. That’s no coincidence; those are the players Young counts among his biggest influences.

Dear Chipotle: Michael Porter Jr., SF/PF, Missouri (No. 14 pick, Denver Nuggets)

Porter is a bit of a mystery. If you want to review his game, videos from his high school days, two minutes of his college debut and 51 minutes of SEC and NCAA tournament play are the only options.

Porter suffered a lower back injury in the first half of Missouri’s season opener in November. Surgery was required, and he missed the remainder of the regular season.

While he rehabbed, Porter used this time to prepare himself for an NBA career. According to an article in GQ, this meant experimenting with his diet. A lifelong vegetarian, Porter transitioned to a vegan lifestyle.

The hardest part of this transition was breaking up with Chipotle.

“Bro, it breaks my heart,” Porter told GQ in May. “I love Chipotle so much. . . . It breaks my heart to say it, but my relationship with Chipotle is over for good.”

Porter did return after the regular season to play in a game apiece in the SEC and NCAA tournaments, scoring 12 and 16 points, respectively.

The scholar: Wendell Carter Jr., C, Duke (No. 7 pick, Chicago Bulls)

From a young age, Carter knew the importance of academics and a good education. This was something that his parents, Kylia and Wendell Sr., reinforced, telling their son that, if he did not receive A’s in school, he would not be allowed to play basketball.

According to the Chicago Tribune, Carter was a third grader when he first said he wanted to be a professional basketball player, in a homework assignment asking, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

“I told him that basketball will take care of itself. We are going to teach you how to be professional,” Kylia told the Tribune.

His parents’ rules seemed to work: Carter held a 3.8 GPA at Pace Academy and earned the school’s award for top scholar-athlete. He also received the boys’ 2017 Morgan Wootten national player of the year award, given to the student-athlete who best embodies outstanding character, leadership and academics, and was a member of the National Honor Society.

These academic accomplishments helped Carter earn a choice between attending Duke and Harvard. He ultimately committed to Duke in November 2016.

Mikal Bridges, SF, Villanova (No. 10 pick, rights traded to Phoenix Suns)

Upon hearing his name called as the 10th pick, Bridges knew his dreams were becoming a reality. Not just because he was a lottery pick in the draft, but because he had been selected by his hometown team, the Philadelphia 76ers.

Bridges, who was born and raised in Malvern, Pa., played college ball at Villanova, a school located just 17 miles west of Philadelphia. Bridges’s mother, Tyneesha, is the vice president of human resources for the Sixers. It wasn’t just Bridges’s dream to be drafted by his hometown team, but his family’s dream, too.

So, when his name was called, it seemed like everything was going according to plan. Bridges answered questions about his excitement over staying home. Little did he know the rug was about to pulled out from underneath him.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweeted 46 minutes after Bridges was selected that he was being sent to the Phoenix Suns.

No one immediately told Bridges. Instead, he continued to sit in front of the media and gush about his hometown team. It wasn’t until Bridges was in the designated “Social Media Room,” where players snap pictures and film boomerangs, that he found out about the trade. He had gone into the room wearing a Sixers cap but reemerged sporting a Suns logo.

After the trade, he seemed to make peace with it. “No, there’s no disappointment,” he told Philly.com. “It’s a business, and I’m excited to go to Phoenix. I’m excited to go out there and get this team going, ready to turn this thing around.”

Perhaps Bridges is just waiting until Summer League play to show the 76ers what they will be missing out on.

Confidence is everything: Kevin Knox, SF/PF, Kentucky (No. 9 pick, New York Knicks)

Confidence is key. And luckily for the Knicks, it seems like their top draft pick is not lacking in that area.

In a recent interview with the New York Post, Knox put his confidence on full display, explaining why he thrives off his haters, sees New York as the perfect fit and follows the motto “Never listen to your critics; prove them all wrong.”

“There’s a lot of people that hate on me, but I’m really willing to prove ‘em wrong,” Knox said. “There’s a lot of people in my high school that said I wasn’t going to be here where I am today, but look where I’m at now.”

Not only does Knox try to prove his haters wrong, but apparently he loves to be booed, telling the New York Post that it gives him motivation and he loves silencing the crowd.

A native of Riverview, Fla., Knox doesn’t root for his hometown NFL team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. His reason? “You don’t like losing teams,” he said to the Post.

So, then, how does he feel about going to the Knicks, who went 29-53 last season?

“Who says we’re going to lose?” Knox asked. He went on to say that, even if the Knicks did lose a few games, no NBA team would lose like the Bucs have historically.

With confidence comes lofty goals. According to the Post, Knox’s goal is to be the rookie of the year. At least, that’s his short-term goal. He has many more that he hopes to accomplish down the road.

“I want to be great,” Knox said. “I want to have my name up in the rafters one day. You want to be a Hall of Famer. I know I’m real young, I got a long way to go, but I’m really willing to get to work, and I’m willing to do whatever it takes to be a Hall of Famer. It’d be crazy to be an all-time great in New York City. That’s a dream come true.”

This freakin’ guy: Grayson Allen, SG, Duke (No. 21 pick, Utah Jazz)

For those who don’t know much about Allen, there are two versions of him. One is an accomplished player who helped Duke to four consecutive NCAA tournaments, including a national championship, a Sweet Sixteen and an Elite Eight.

The other is a player whom everyone loves to hate.

That’s tied to his supposed dirty play, which sometimes led to suspensions, earning him the title of college basketball’s best-known villain and possibly “the most hated Duke basketball player of all time,” according to USA Today.

So which Allen will show up in Salt Lake City? That is still to be decided.

According to the Salt Lake Tribune, Allen’s reputation was quickly addressed during an initial interview the Jazz had with the former Blue Devil. The team reportedly believes Allen is misunderstood and that his off-court personality does not match what he shows on the hardwood.

Before Allen touched down in Salt Lake City, he already had something in common with one of the city’s most important members of the basketball community. Last season, Allen became the third player in Duke history to earn all-ACC academic honors four times. One of the other players was Amile Jefferson. The third was Jazz Coach Quin Snyder.

Having that in with his new coach may be helpful, because the other piece of history that Allen shares with the Jazz, namely standout rookie Donovan Mitchell, wasn’t always that sweet. Their history is dotted with plays that helped categorize Allen as a villain.

So this ought to be fun.

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