Published November 20, 2014
Kentucky and North Carolina are first and third, respectively, in all-time victories among Division I programs. It should come as no surprise that players from those universities dominated the NBA Draft on Thursday night.
The Wildcats and Tar Heels each had four players taken in the opening round, led by Kentucky forwards Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, the first two picks. Kentucky had six players taken overall.
Davis, as expected, was chosen by the New Orleans Hornets at No. 1, but a bit of a shock came when the Charlotte Bobcats took Kidd-Gilchrist.
It was the first time in draft history that two players from the same school were taken with the top two selections.
"I didn't really care where I went. I was just surprised. I was just very surprised," Kidd-Gilchrist said of being taken No. 2.
Kentucky forward Terrence Jones was picked 18th by Houston while guard Marquis Teague went 29th to the Chicago Bulls. Teague could play a big role as point guard for the Bulls, especially with former MVP Derrick Rose recovering from a torn ACL.
The Wildcats also saw guard Doron Lamb taken by Milwaukee at No. 42 overall, while forward Darius Miller went to the Hornets at No. 46.
North Carolina forward Harrison Barnes went No. 7 to Golden State, while Tar Heels guard Kendall Marshall and forward John Henson were drafted back-to-back by Phoenix and Milwaukee at 13th and 14th. UNC center Tyler Zeller was drafted by Dallas at No. 17, but was traded to Cleveland.
Davis, a 6-foot-10 power forward with the 7-foot-5 wingspan, was the consensus national player of the year. In his only season at Kentucky, he averaged 14.2 points, 10.4 rebounds and had a school-record 186 blocks while leading the Wildcats to the national title.
"A great feeling, great experience. I've wanted this all my life, so it's finally here," Davis said. "To be drafted No. 1 overall means a lot to me, for a 19-year-old freshman, now professional."
He figures to help a team that finished with the worst record in the Western Conference last season. The Hornets averaged 89.6 points, which was the second-lowest in the NBA behind only the Bobcats.
"I just have to come in and play defense," Davis said. "I know they are a defensive-oriented team and I love to play defense, and that's what the coaches stress a lot."
The Hornets won the draft lottery last month despite having just a 13.7 percent chance at landing the top pick. It marked the second time in franchise history the Hornets made the No. 1 selection. In 1991, the then-Charlotte Hornets selected UNLV's Larry Johnson, who went on to win Rookie of the Year.
The Hornets were also one of just two teams with a pair of picks in the lottery. They selected Duke guard Austin Rivers 10th overall.
It was a special moment for Rivers, who gave a celebratory hug to his father, Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers. Exactly 29 years ago, the elder Rivers was taken in the second round by the Atlanta Hawks.
Kidd-Gilchrist also played in just one season for Kentucky and produced 11.9 points and 7.4 rebounds per game with 39 steals and 37 blocked shots.
He will try to boost a team that ended the 2011-12 season with the worst winning percentage in NBA history. The Bobcats went 7-59 and have finished below .500 in seven of the last eight seasons.
At No. 3, the Washington Wizards took Florida's Bradley Beal. The sharp- shooting guard, who celebrated his 19th birthday on Thursday, averaged 14.8 points and 6.7 rebounds while starting all 37 games for the Gators.
It was the first time freshmen were selected with the top three picks.
Syracuse guard Dion Waiters was taken fourth by the Cavaliers, who are building around guard Kyrie Irving -- the No. 1 pick last year and the reigning NBA Rookie of the Year.
Waiters, who averaged 12.6 points, was considered to be one of the best sixth men off the bench as part of a Syracuse team that went 34-3 this past season.
Kansas power forward Thomas Robinson was selected fifth by Sacramento. The Big 12 Conference Player of the Year averaged 17.7 points and 11.9 rebounds per game last season, leading the nation in double-doubles with 27 and helping the Jayhawks reach the national title game.
He was shocked to drop so far on the draft board.
"I really didn't know where I was going to end up at, but it is a bit of a surprise," Robinson said. "I didn't work out for Sacramento at all. I probably talked to them about once."
Weber State point guard Damian Lillard went sixth to Portland. It was a big jump into the top 10 for Lillard, who played in just nine games in the 2010-11 season due to a broken bone in his right foot. He came back strong last season and finished with a scoring average of 24.5 points per game to rank second in the country.
"My foot was broken and I was just hoping to get this year back," Lillard said. "It all fell into place this year."
Washington guard Terrence Ross was selected eighth by the Raptors and UConn center Andre Drummond went ninth to the Pistons.
The Portland Trail Blazers got their big man in an attempt to turn the page from the Greg Oden era by selecting Illinois center Meyers Leonard 11th. Oden, a free agent now, will sit out the upcoming season to rehab his knee injuries.
Another UConn player, guard Jeremy Lamb, went to Houston at No. 12 while Philadelphia took St. John's forward Maurice Harkless at 15th.
Iowa state forward Royce White was taken by Houston at No. 16 and St. Bonaventure forward Andrew Nicholson was drafted by Orlando 19th. Evan Fournier, a forward from France, went to Denver at No. 20.
Ohio State forward Jared Sullinger, who saw his stock drop dramatically over the last few weeks due to a supposed back injury, was selected by Boston. The Celtics also had the 22nd pick and took Syracuse center Fab Melo.
Atlanta got Vanderbilt guard John Jenkins next, followed by the Cavaliers taking Oregon State guard Jared Cunningham, and Washington guard Tony Wroten Jr. going to the Grizzlies. Cunningham was then traded to the Mavericks.
The Pacers took Duke center Miles Plumlee, while Mississippi State power forward Arnett Moultrie was selected 27th by Miami. Moultrie won't join LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh as the Heat start their title defense after he was traded to Philadelphia.
Baylor forward Perry Jones III went to Oklahoma City at No. 28, and Vanderbilt center Festus Ezeli went to Golden State with the last pick of the first round.
The draft ended with Gonzaga center Robert Sacre being taken by the Lakers as the last selection of round two, for their only pick of the night.