After spending two years in Nevada attending prep school and college, Thursday night marked Rashad Vaughn’s return to the Midwest.

Vaughn, who attended Cooper for his first three years of high school, was selected by the Milwaukee Bucks with the 17th overall pick in Thursday’s NBA draft. The 6-6 guard attended Findlay (Nev.) Prep, renowned for its basketball program, for his senior season of high school and averaged almost 18 points per game in his only college season at UNLV.

“It’s a great city, and I think it’s a great fit for me,” Vaughn said. “I’m going to come in and give them whatever they need. I’m going to try to learn as much as I can with Jason Kidd as my coach.

“… I’ve been praying and praying. It’s been a long journey, and it just finally paid off.”

About five minutes after he was chosen, Vaughn walked into a lounge at Seven Sushi in Minneapolis to a crowd of at least 250 friends and family applauding. Wearing a short-sleeved blue-collared shirt and beige pants, Vaughn raised his hands to the ceiling and soaked in the moment.

“This is something we’ve been working toward for at least the last five years,” said Pete Kaffey, who was an assistant coach at Cooper and became an assistant coach at Findlay after Vaughn agreed to play there. “… This is a very exciting moment for Rashad. He’s been working so hard.”

Vaughn tore a meniscus on Feb. 10, but that didn’t keep him from declaring for the draft on April 8.

“I always knew that the injury was just a little speed bump, and he did a great job going through that,” Kaffey said. “One thing about Rashad is that he’s a worker bee. I always tell people, there are two types of love. One is I love my mom or I love my wife. Rashad is in love with basketball like he loves his wife.”

Though Vaughn said his journey from Minnesota to Nevada to the NBA has been long, friends and family smiled through the night and repeated one line: “He’s coming home.”

“As long as you work hard and just stay focused, anything is possible,” Vaughn said. “I’m living that right now. I know I’m not done yet. This is just the beginning, and I’m ready to get back to work.”