Wolves move up to No. 6, take Jarrett Culver

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MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA - APRIL 06: Jarrett Culver #23 of the Texas Tech Red Raiders celebrates late in the second half against the Michigan State Spartans during the 2019 NCAA Final Four semifinal. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
 

Gersson Rosas is the new man in charge of the Minnesota Timberwolves front office, and he didn't waste any time in making his first splash.

Before the start of Thursday's NBA Draft, Rosas traded Dario Saric and the No. 11 pick to the Phoenix Suns for the No. 6 overall pick. With the pick, the Timberwolves selected Texas Tech shooting guard Jarrett Culver.

Phoenix technically made the pick for Minnesota Thursday night. The trade cannot become official until July 6.

"What we were able to do tonight is pretty rare. In reality, our staff deserves a ton of credit. We looked at every opportunity, we knew what was available and we were able to execute on it," Rosas said after Thursday's draft. "When that happens, it's a good night because a lot of times those things don't come together."

Culver had an idea Minnesota might be targeting him if the Timberwolves made a trade on draft night. They met with him both at the NBA Combine, and visited him at his training facility in Arizona. It was a rush of adrenaline for Culver when he got the call Thursday night from the Wolves.

"They were very excited, it was very exciting. Their energy was amazing and that says a lot," Culver said. "That gives me confidence, that makes me happy. That's somewhere I want to be, where somebody wants me."

He also gets to be the newest teammate of Karl-Anthony Towns. Rosas said leading up to the NBA Draft the goal as the new leader in the front office was to build the roster around his best player.

Culver can be one of those new pieces.

"I feel great about it. I don't know who wouldn't want to play with him. He's a great player, I feel like he's a great guy and I feel like he'll be a great teammate," Culver said.

Culver just got done helping lead the Red Raiders to the Final Four, held at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. They lost to Virginia in the national championship game.

Culver averaged 18.5 points, 6.4 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game last season for Texas Tech. He also shot 46.1 percent from the field. Culver shot 30.4 percent from three-point range last season. He scored 10 points in Texas Tech's Final 4 win over Michigan State.

Culver scored 15 points in the national title game loss to Virginia. He spent two seasons at Texas Tech and was named the Big 12 Player of the Year last season.

He's 6-6, 195 pounds and is a Lubbock, Texas native.

The Wolves were impressed with Culver, despite a shaky shooting stretch to end his career at Texas Tech. In his final three games with the Red Raiders, Culver shot a combined 13-of-53 (24.5 percent) from the field, including a combined 3-of-17 from the perimeter.

Culver shot 5-of-22, including 0-for-6 from the perimeter, in the national title game against Virginia.

The last time the Wolves had the No. 6 overall pick, it was 2009 and they chose guard Jonny Flynn. The next pick was Steph Curry. The Wolves also took Ricky Rubio with the No. 5 overall pick that year, and fans know all too well how that story has unfolded.

Culver's new goal now is to help the Timberwolves return to the playoffs, and beyond.

"They're on the verge of being a great team. I feel like I could like the GM and the coaching staff. They're going to get the right people in and I feel like they're going to be a winning program for sure," Culver said.

With the No. 43 pick in the second round, the Timberwolves selected Washington guard Jaylen Nowell. He was selected the Pac-12 Player of the Year after averaging 16.2 points per game for the Huskies, and shooting 44 percent from three-point range.

Former Gophers Murphy, Coffey go undrafted

The two Minnesota connections to the NBA Draft Thursday night were former Gophers stars Jordan Murphy and Amir Coffey. Neither were selected, but Coffey has the best chance to sign with a team on a two-way contract.

Murphy finished his Gophers career as the team's all-time leading rebounder, and second in Big Ten history. He also finished top five in program history in scoring. Coffey led the Gophers in scoring at 16.6 points per game last season.