How time flies when you’re having fun! Two years ago, Dayne Downey was the leading scorer on the Palisades High boys basketball team. Now he’s headed to Portland after being picked sixth by Blazers5 Gaming in the inaugural NBA 2K draft last week in New York City.
Downey’s “game name” is OneWildWalnut. “My brother and I came up with that years ago and I stuck with it,” he said. Draft Day was the experience of a lifetime! When I have school and basketball I’d say I play two to three hours. I was surprised but confident I’d be drafted and I just prayed I’d go to a team that wants to win. I’ve been playing video games my whole life but really competitively the past two years.”
Downey is fresh off his first year playing at Santa Monica College and tweeted: “The love from the Blazers fans and organization has been real! I can’t wait to get up to Portland to win this!”
Players will earn salaries over $30,000, housing, gaming products, and other amenities as well as a chance to earn more money from a million dollar prize pool spread out across multiple tournaments during the season. The league starts in May and ends in August, meaning Downey will be ready to return to SMC in September. Each of the 17 teams—all owned by NBA franchises—selected six players from the 102-player pool.
Anybody 18 years or older with the NBA 2K18 video game on PS4 or Xbox One could qualify. Players who won 50 games in the NBA 2K18 Pro-Am mode, in which they create their own characters, were eligible to apply and ESPN reported 72,000 people advanced to the league combine in February, when the field was narrowed to 250 and the best of those made the draft. Teams will compete against one another in five-on-five matchups and Downey won’t be using his own avatar but one with a rating around 90.
“I still like real-life basketball more, but both are way different and can be more fun than each other at times,” Downey said.