NBA

Milwaukee Bucks Pat Connaughton Pursued a Professional Baseball Career While He Was in College

Pat Connaughton is in his fifth NBA season. In his second year with the Milwaukee Bucks, they’re attempting to make a run to the 2020 NBA Finals.

Connaughton is talented in baseball as well. During his time in college, he spent time playing for a minor league team as a pitcher.

Pat Connaughton’s career at Notre Dame

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In high school, Connaughton was a three-sport athlete, and he starred on the baseball diamond. He received multiple scholarships from top programs like the University of Virginia, the University of North Carolina, and Boston College. At the end of his junior year, Connaughton did not have any Division I offers for basketball. But that changed during the summer of his junior year. After having an impressive performance during an AAU tournament, he received multiple offers to play baseball and basketball. He ended up choosing Notre Dame.

At Notre Dame, he was a valuable player on the baseball and basketball team. During his freshman year on the basketball team, he was one of three players to appear in all 34 games. He averaged seven points and 4.4 rebounds per game. Connaughton then joined the baseball team as a relief pitcher. As a sophomore, he averaged 8.9 points per game on the basketball team and had a 1.71 ERA on the baseball team. It’s not often you see college athletes play basketball and baseball because the seasons can be conflicting, but Connaughton made it work.

During his junior year, Connaughton was expected to go in the early rounds of the MLB draft. The Baltimore Orioles drafted him in the fourth round of the 2014 MLB draft and agreed to terms with the Orioles and received a signing bonus of over $400,000.

Playing professional baseball and returning to Notre Dame for his senior season of basketball

When Connaughton signed with the Orioles, they agreed to let him play his senior basketball season at Notre Dame. He made his professional baseball debut with the Aberdeen IronBirds of the Class A-Short Season New York-Penn League. Connaughton registered a 96 miles per hour fastball on the mound. According to milb.com, he appeared in six games, making four starts and finished with a 0-1 record with a 2.45 ERA. Through 14.2 innings, he had 10 strikeouts and gave up one home run.

Connaughton joined the Notre Dame basketball team at the end of July. During his senior season, he started in all 38 games and averaged 12.5 points and 7.4 rebounds. The Orioles allowed Connaughton to pursue an NBA career, but they never made any attempts to recoup the $428,000 signing bonus. The Orioles continued to control his contractual baseball rights through 2020, and it could be extended for six more years if the Orioles put him on its major league roster.

Pat Connaughton becoming an NBA player

The Brooklyn Nets drafted Connaughton in the second round of the 2015 NBA draft. Connaughton’s draft rights were traded to the Portland Trail Blazers. He signed a three-year deal with Portland. During his rookie season, he appeared in 34 games coming off the bench and averaged 1.1 points per game. He spent three seasons with Portland, and during the 2017-18 season, he appeared in all 82 games making five starts. That season he averaged 5.4 points per game.

In August of 2018, Connaughton signed with the Milwaukee Bucks. In his first season with Milwaukee, he averaged a career-high 6.9 points per game, adding depth to the Bucks’ bench. He participated in the 2020 Slam Dunk Contest, where he finished third. Connaughton played in 67 games during the regular season and averaged 5.4 points per game. It looks like Connaughton will continue his NBA career for as long as he can. Maybe he’ll make a return to baseball someday.