NEW YORK — In the fall of 2016, a few months after the shooting at the University of Virginia, a young group of Duncanville high students was preparing for their freshman year of high school.
They were preparing for the possibility of being the next in a line of black American athletes to go to the NBA.
“If we could make it in this sport, it would make a difference,” said Jordan Lewis, one of the Duncanville students, in an interview with ABC News.
Jordan Lewis with his teammates, including guard Isaiah Austin, and forward Kadeem Allen, at the start of their senior year in high school in 2016.
At that point, the world was still coming to grips with the shooting of nine black Americans by white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia, and the horrific aftermath of that event.
But this was different.
The group of teens were already getting their shot in the NBA and were ready for what would happen next.
Jordan was one of two black high school players from the area who were being considered for the 2019 NBA Draft.
When he got to Duncanville in 2019, Jordan was already one of only three black players on the team.
He was the first of his kind to be drafted, along with teammate Isaiah Austin and forward Luke Hancock.
It would be the first black player to be selected in the first round of the NBA Draft in nearly 30 years.
“My mom, she always told me that you’re not allowed to talk about what happened in Charlottesville,” Jordan said.
“But I knew there was a little bit of talk around us, so I tried to keep my emotions in check.”
“But I’m going to keep going to work and try to help my team,” he added.
Jordan, who is now an assistant coach for the Portland Trail Blazers, has never been able to be in the locker room after playing in an NBA game.
He did, however, help the team win a game in the summer league.
The other two black players from Duncanvale High School, Isaiah Austin (18) and Luke Hancock (19), have also been drafted, but neither are expected to be able to join their team.
“I know what I can do and what I’ve been taught,” said Hancock, a sophomore forward.
“I’ve been told to be tough and take the hits and keep going,” Austin said.
He said he didn’t take the lessons too well.
“They told me not to be selfish, not to have my own goals and goals,” Austin told ABC News in an email.
“That’s when I started to see it.
I didn’t realize how selfish I was until I got drafted.”
Jordan, like the other two, has a chance to become an NBA player.
“It’s a dream come true,” Jordan told ABC affiliate WVIR in New York City.
“This is my dream.
This is what I want to do.
This has always been my dream, to play in the league.”
The high school team at the time of the shooting in Charlottesville was one that had seen the NBA before, but none of its players had played for a team in the previous few years.
That is no longer the case, with the NBA expanding to include the National Basketball Association in 2019.
And so, Jordan Lewis was selected by the Warriors in the 2019 draft.
But not before one of his teammates from Duncanfield High School came to the realization that he was the future of the program.
“We had to do something about it,” Lewis told ABC.
“There were times where I was thinking, ‘Oh, man, if I’m a player, I can’t get into this.’
But I had to be the best of the best, to be one of them.”
Jordan was named to the Duncanfield team for the 2020 season, as well as the 2019-2020 seasons.
He played in 32 games for the Warriors, averaging 8.5 points, 3.4 rebounds and 2.7 assists.
Jordan’s best season came in the 2018-19 season, when he scored a career-high 28 points on 6-of-12 shooting, including 6-for-7 from 3-point range.
As for his NBA career, Jordan is in the process of choosing between several teams.
He is not one of those who are likely to sign with any of the big five NBA teams, but he has said that he is open to a return to the Golden State Warriors.
It’s an option that Lewis is open on.
“Right now, I’m just going to go out and make a decision,” Lewis said.
Jordan said he is not going to be swayed by his teammates.
“Everyone’s on the same page, but it’s my decision,” he said.