It’s apparent that Cassius Stanley got his jumping ability from his mother.
Wednesday night the Indiana Pacers selected Stanley with the 54th overall pick — the team’s lone selection — in the 2020 NBA Draft, which like most big events these days was held virtually.
When the 6-foot-6 guard out of Duke was picked by the Pacers in the second round, some of his high-flying highlights were shown by ESPN. Included among those was one of him recording a 46 1/2-inch vertical leap — eclipsing Zion Williamson’s record of 45 — when he was with the Blue Devils.
“To say he plays above the rim is an understatement,” ESPN personality Jay Bilas said on the coverage.
Once you realize where he comes from, however, it makes sense. Stanley is the son of former Jeffersonville High School — and later UCLA — star track & field athlete Tonya Sedwick. The youngest of the three Sedwick sisters (along with Pam and Jacqueline) immortalized on Jeffersonville’s Wall of Champions, Tonya was a four-time state champion in the long jump and her leap of 20-feet, 4-inches in 1986 is still an IHSAA State Finals record (although she cleared a wind-aided 21-0 1/4 her senior year in 1987).
Sedwick went on to become a conference-champion heptathlete and long jumper at UCLA. After college she remained in California and married Jerome Stanley, a sports agent.
Their son, Cassius, chose basketball over track and starred at Sierra Canyon High School, the same school that LeBron James’ son, Bronny, now attends, in L.A. A four-star recruit coming out of Sierra Canyon who was ranked 29th overall in the ESPN 100 for the Class of 2019, he chose Duke over Kansas, Oregon and UCLA.
In his one season in Durham, N.C., Stanley averaged 12.6 points and 4.9 rebounds in 29 games for the Blue Devils, who went 25-6 and tied for second in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Ironically, his biggest game came against the school located just across the river from his mom’s hometown.
Stanley tallied 24 points and 11 rebounds in Duke’s 79-73 loss to Louisville at Cameron Indoor Stadium in January.
He finished the season shooting 47.4 percent from the field and 73.3 percent from the free throw line while registering a team-best 30 dunks on his way to earned ACC All-Freshman honors.
Stanley declared for the NBA Draft in April, after the coronavirus pandemic canceled the NCAA Tournament.
“It was an absolute joy to coach Cassius this season,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said following Stanley’s announcement. “I want to congratulate him and his great family on this decision. I’ve seen Cassius grow both as a player and person here at Duke, and I can’t wait to see how his career develops at the next level. Any NBA team will be very fortunate to get such a mature young man who is not only an incredibly-gifted athlete, but a leader that wants nothing but the best for himself and his teammates.”
“I feel blessed to have worn the Duke jersey and choosing Duke was the best decision of my life,” Stanley said when he declared for the draft. “I have grown physically, emotionally, as a person, and as a basketball player. Since I was a young teen, my dream was to play in the NBA and have a great career. Upon joining The Brotherhood, my immediate goal became helping our team reach the Final Four and contend for a national title. I truly believe that is exactly what would have happened if our season wasn’t interrupted.
“As much as I feel a burning desire to make another run at the Final Four, I feel compelled to make the best decision for my professional success, and therefore, I have decided to enter the 2020 NBA Draft. I want to thank Coach K, the entire Duke coaching staff and my teammates for all their support. I also want to thank our trainers, strength coaches, managers, administrative staff, and academic support staff. Last but not least, thanks to the Crazies and Duke fans all over the world for helping to make this past year the most fun I’ve ever had playing the sport we all love.”
Although Stanley had hoped to go higher in Wednesday’s draft, Indiana general manager Chad Buchanan said he was “very happy” that Stanley was available when the Pacers’ pick came up.
“Talking with Cassius tonight, he was expecting to be drafted much higher. I think he’s going to come in with a chip on his shoulder, which is usually a good sign,” Buchanan said. “Cassius I think is amongst the tops in this draft when it comes to just pure athleticism, which is something our roster kind of lacks.
“Cassius is the type of player that when you watch him on film, he pops.”
Wednesday night Sedwick sat to her son’s left while watching the draft. When he was selected she began clapping her hands then, as he appeared to be overcome with emotion, she leaned over and gave him a kiss on the cheek.
“In the phone call (with the Pacers) I was very emotional,” Stanley said in a post-draft interview. “I’m just extremely happy.”
Happy to be heading to the Hoosier state.
“Craziest thing is my whole entire family on my moms side is from Indiana so I’m basically coming home,” Stanley tweeted Thursday evening.
Craziest thing is my whole entire family on my moms side is from Indiana so I’m basically coming home 😁💙💛— Cassius Stanley (@cassius_stanley) November 20, 2020