NEW YORK -- Isaiah Whitehead always envisioned himself as a first-round NBA Draft pick even if DraftExpress.com had him going late in the second.
So when the 6-foot-5 former Seton Hall point guard was selected at No. 42 by the Utah Jazz -- a pick that was then conveyed to the Nets in exchange for former North Carolina point guard Marcus Paige -- he said it will only serve as motivation going forward.
"It's definitely motivation," Whitehead said at Barclays Center. "I mean, I always dreamed about being a first-round pick. It didn't happen, so you've got to move on and just keep working and try to prove everyone wrong."
Whitehead wasn't invited to the Green Room and instead sat in the stands and then made his way down to the stage to meet NBA Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum after his name was called.
"It's a blessing, man," the Brooklyn native said of playing in his home borough. "It's definitely in the books. It's a dream come true. Since Brooklyn got here, I always wanted to play for them, so it's definitely a dream come true."
He said Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard and his staff texted him after the first round and said, "Keep your head up."
"I'm like, 'Hey, if I get picked, I'm blessed,' Whitehead responded. "There's no rush to get picked. Wherever you get picked you've got to go there and take care of what you've got to take care of."
Whitehead is the first Brooklyn-born player to join the Nets since they moved from New Jersey and he will join fellow New Yorker Chris McCullough on a young squad.
"I mean, it's basically two city guys just trying to get to somewhere in life, just trying to grow and play for NBA teams," he said. "It will be a blessing to have his friends and his family there and my friends and family there and to watch us play."
ESPN's Fran Fraschilla said Whitehead needs to keep the distractions to a minimum, which shouldn't be a problem for a kid who has always had high character since his time at Lincoln High School.
"As long as he can keep the natural distractions at a minimum, those being the obvious ones, being close to home around friends and family, if he seizes this opportunity in Brooklyn, especially with a guard-oriented coach in Kenny Atkinson, I think it's a great fit for him," he said.
"And I think going in the second round is probably going to add a little bit of a chip on his shoulder to prove to people that he can play in the NBA."
There had been speculation that the Knicks might add a draft pick and bring the Coney Island native to Madison Square Garden, where he won both New York City PSAL and Big East championships. But instead, the Nets traded with Utah and will bring the Brooklyn native home.
"Actually the only time I talked to those two teams was when I worked out with them," Whitehead said. "The Nets really liked my game. They liked me since I was in school, so it's not a surprise that they picked me, but it's definitely a blessing."
Whitehead figures to make the roster for the rebuilding Nets under first-year coach Kenny Atkinson, but said he doesn't feel any pressure in coming home and playing his games in the same building he was drafted in.
"I mean, there's no pressure," he said. "I played here in high school, I've played across the bridge in Seton Hall, so it's really not far away. It's just about being about your business and taking care of what you've got to take care of."
Whitehead was one of four Big East players selected on the night, following Providence's Kris Dunn at No. 5 (Minnesota) and Marquette's Henry Ellenson at No. 18 (Detroit). Providence's Ben Bentil was selected at No. 51 (Boston).
"Once you make a decision like that, there's no looking back," Whitehead said. "You can't go back and say I should have did this, I should have did that. It's done. There's no reason to try to reflect on it and try to think about anything else because I can't take it back even if I wanted to."
"He's helped our brand immensely in the fact from where he came in as a freshman and where he is now in just two short years," Willard said at the Combine. "Obviously, getting a guy in the NBA would be phenomenal for us. It shows what we do with individual instruction, what we do being in the metro area...I'm very proud of the work he's put in, I'm very proud of the situation he's put himself in."
A scoring point guard, Whitehead should be able to find playing time with the Nets, who traded wing Thad Young to Indiana and are rebuilding.
"Basically whatever they need me to do," he said. "If they need me to be on the bench cheering, then that's what I've got to do. If they need me to play and produce, that's what I've got to do. It's a job now, so you've got to go to work every day and take care of business."