Two Bradley Beal Elite alums heard their names called in the first round of Thursday night’s 2023 NBA Draft and both were selected by the same franchise, the Charlotte Hornets, re-forming a dynamic duo after a year spent apart as SEC rivals.

Charlotte began the night by choosing Brandon Miller with the second overall pick in the draft.

About three hours later, with the 27th overall pick, the Hornets selected Nick Smith Jr.

The two BBE alums join a Charlotte squad starving for production on both ends of the floor. They will team with LaMelo Ball to attempt to restore glory to a Hornets franchise that is currently in the midst of a seven-year playoff drought, the longest current drought in the league.

Brandon heads to Charlotte after a banner freshman year at Alabama where he was named SEC Player of the Year, SEC Freshman of the Year and SEC Tournament MVP, the first player in conference history to complete that specific trifecta. He was also selected the NABC Freshman of the Year and chosen as a First Team All-American by the Associated Press while leading Alabama to SEC regular season and tournament titles, the No. 1 ranking in the final AP poll and the No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

“Brandon Miller has the ability to play several positions,” Hornets GM Mitch Kupchak said. “He can probably guard one through four. I think he can play the two-spot, the three-spot on a regular basis. I see him bringing the ball up the court. That doesn’t necessarily make him a ball-handling guard, but he can make plays, run a pick-and-roll, rebound. For a 20-year-old, he has a game that translates to the NBA pretty easily.”

Brandon was the SEC leader in points per game with 18.8, which also happened to be the most in the nation for a freshman. His 106 made 3-pointers were a SEC-best and the second-most in a season in Alabama history.

But one of the things that makes Brandon a special talent is that he refuses to let his offense alone define his game. His effort and energy as well as his skill and instincts on defense take his ability to another level.

“It’s not all about offense,” said Miller. “You make shots some games, you miss shots some games. If you have an off game, I feel like you should make up for it with a defensive play, a stop or something like that. What can you do to help a team win a game? I can help with my defense as far as diving on the floor, getting 50-50 balls, defensive rebounds, taking charges, forcing shot clock violations. Those can change a game.”

The 2022-23 college season wasn’t as fruitful for Nick as it was for Brandon, but he learned a lot about himself, things he can apply at the next level, like how to bounce back from the adversity of his first major injury of his playing career. Nick battled knee ailments for much of his freshman campaign at the University of Arkansas, missing 19 games across the season. But when he did play, Nick played well, averaging 12.5 points per game. After playing just five games between November and December he returned in February and closed the regular season strong, scoring at least 24 points in three of the Razorbacks’ final four regular season games.

He’s also just one year removed from being the top player in his high school class, named USA Today National High School Player of the Year, and one of the consensus top 3 recruits in the country. It’s that talent that led Charlotte to grab him late in the first round, and Kupchak admitted the Hornets felt lucky to land Nick with pick No. 27, as the franchise had an early first round grade on him.

“We had him [ranked] much higher in the draft. He’s young. He’s got great size. He’s a shooter. In our league, that’s at a premium,” Kupchak said. “We feel very fortunate to get Nick where we did.”

Nick was asked after being selected by the Hornets how he feels about rejoining Brandon to run it back BBE style, this time in the league with the Hornets.

“Brandon is my right hand man. I talk to [him] nearly every day,” Nick said. “I’m just ready to get to work with him. He’s an extremely good player. I’ve been playing with him ever since I was in high school, and the journey continues. I feel like God does everything for a reason.”