Current UK players in the NBA – Part I
As of 2/2/2012 there are 16 former UK players on NBA rosters. These 16 players will be the focus of this sites coverage until Calipari dumps another truckload of talented players into the NBA in next years draft, at which point we will begin covering the new players until Calipari dumps another truckload of talented players into the NBA in the following years draft, at which point we will begin covering the new players until….well you get the point. I’m sure most of you already know each and every one of these 16 players, but because my grandmother promised to read my first post (hi grandma!), and she knows nothing about UK basketball, I will be doing a series of player profiles over the next several days so everyone can get acquainted, or reacquainted, with our Big Blue NBA family. Without any further ado, here are the first 4 player profiles.
How could you not start with the man that brought UK basketball back from the depths of Billly Gillespies’ alcoholism and back into national prominence while also becoming one of the most beloved and exciting players in recent UK history? John Wall was the first player in UK history to be selected #1 overall in the NBA draft when in 2010 the Washington Wizards selected him with the top overall pick after his lone season at Kentucky in which he averaged 16.6 points, 6.5 assists, 4.3 rebounds, and 1.8 steals. In his first season as a pro Wall did not disappoint, starting 64 games while averaging 16.4 points, 8.3 assists, 4.6 rebounds, and 1.8 steals. Now, in just his second season as a pro, some NBA scouts question whether Wall is a franchise player (more on that later), but despite their stupidity, he remains one of the leagues best young point guards and arguably the most talented former UK player in the NBA. So far this season, Wall has started all 22 games and is currently averaging 15.5 points, 7.2 assists, 5.3 rebounds, 1.3 steals, and 1.0 block.
One of the best rebounding guards I’ve seen in my lifetime – I saw him grab 19 rebounds against Iona at Freedom Hall – Rajon Rondo had an up and down career at UK. During his only two seasons at Rupp, Rondo gave fans reasons to cheer (he broke UK’s single season record for steals), and reasons to hate him.. At the conclusion of his sophomore season at UK in which he averaged 11.2 points, 6.1 rebounds, 4.9 assists, and 2.0 steals, Rondo declared for the NBA draft and was selected 21st by the Phoenix Suns in the 2006 NBA draft. Phoenix then traded Rondo to the Celtics for a 2007 first round pick, which would eventually become Rudy Ferndandez. Bad move Phoenix. Rondo has since become one of the best point guards in the NBA, not to mention an NBA champion. He’s been named to the All-Defensive team 3 times, he’s been an All-Star twice, and he’s broken several Boston Celtic franchise records, including most assists and steals in a single season. Over his entire NBA career, which is now in its 6th season, he has career averages of 10.8 points, 7.6 assists, 4.5 rebounds, and 1.9 steals. So far this season, which might be his best yet, he is averaging 15.0 points, 9.4 assists, 5.1 rebounds, and 1.7 steals.
Boogie!! Demarcus Cousins is attempting to become knucklehead número uno in the NBA right now with all of the shenanigans he has caused in just his second season. And I just don’t get it. Ask any UK fan about Cousins, and you find out quickly that Big Blue Nation loves us some Boogie. My wife loves Cousins so much she started dressing like him:
Sure Cousins did his fair share of stupid things while at Kentucky – that time he elbowed Swopshire right in his ugly face, and of course the infamous “Call me?” (pictured above) – but he also showed his glowing personality, humor, and caring heart. Hopefully Kings fans will get a chance to see that side of Cousins as he continues to mature, because he is an absolute beast on the court. His only season in blue and white saw Cousins average 15.1 points, 9.9 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks and helped Kentucky reach the Elite Eight. Mainly due to his maturity issues, Cousins fell to the Sacramento Kings who drafted him 5th overall in the 2010 NBA draft. In his up and down rookie season, Cousins finished the season strong and ended his debut season with averages of 14.1 points, 8.7 rebounds, 2.5 assists, and .8 blocks. Despite his troubles this season, Cousins is continuing to improve and currently averages a double-double with 14.7 points and 10.8 rebounds. Get-r-done Boogie!!!
The player who brought us this is one of my favorite UK basketball players of all-time and is one of the players who started my fascination with following our boys in the pros. At UK, Prince was one of the best. His sophomore year at UK he was named SEC Player of the Year and was a consensus 2nd team All-American averaging 16.9 points, 6.5 rebounds, 2.9 assists, and 1.1 blocks. Prince returned for his junior season (imagine Wall and Cousins as juniors on this years team…OMG! I just pooped my pants) and was equally dominant and declared for the draft following the teams lost to Maryland in the NCAA tournament. Prince was drafted 23rd by the Detroit Pistons in the 2002 NBA draft. Many UK fans felt he should have been drafted higher, but many NBA scouts had concerns over his skinny frame. The scouts were all wrong (UK fans are so smart). Prince has gone on to have a very productive career and has been known as one of the leagues premier defenders throughout his career. Like Rondo, Prince has been a major contributor on an NBA championship team. He has also been named to the All-Defensive team 4 times, won a Gold Medal in the Olympics playing for Team USA, and he has even found the time to start a fledgling acting career, starring alongside Snoop Dog in the movie, Hood of Horror (Wikipedia disclosure: can anyone verify that?). Entering his tenth NBA season, Prince has career averages of 12.9 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 2.7 assists. So far this season Prince is averaging 12.1 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 1.9 assists.