After an exciting season, followed by a huge post-season letdown, the graduates and early departures from the Texas Longhorn men’s basketball team made a stellar showing in the 2010 NBA Draft on Thursday night. In total, 10 Big 12 basketball stars were selected in the first two rounds, with Texas leading the way with three picks.
Both Damion James and Dexter Pittman, who had reached their eligibility with the program, as well as freshman Avery Bradley, made the jump to the NBA, with each of three going in the first 32 picks of the lottery draft and two in the first round. Let’s take a look at where they ended up:
1st/#19 pick – Avery Bradley (Boston Celtics)
Fresh off a disappointing loss to the L.A. Lakers in the 2010 NBA Championship, the Celtics were in need of an infusion of youth, especially with the impending retirement of Rasheed Wallace. With Bradley, head coach Doc Rivers gets a shooting guard who believes in Rivers’ approach to defense, and with some additional time to develop his shooting game, could be a threat on both ends of the floor. Let’s face it, Bradley’s a “coach’s player” – he’ll exceed at whatever his coaches ask of him. He’ll be a nice compliment to Rajon Rondo at the point, and with his speed, can run the floor with the best of them. A nice pick for the Celts, we’ll see how early he gets playing time. ESPN’s Bill Simmons should be stoked.
1st/#24 – Damion James (Atlanta Hawks)
The ‘Hawks finally made an appearance in the playoffs last year. Most of America probably forgot Atlanta even had a basketball team, or they reminisced about the Mogsey Bogues days in the Southeast. What Atlanta gets is another strong personality and work horse in James. He’ll continue to build on a young roster with a lot of depth. With James on board, Atlanta’s defense and rebounding will improve, and let’s not forget James’ scoring prowess. This is a really nice addition for the Hawks.
2nd/#32 – Dexter Pittman (Miami Heat)
Miami had an interesting draft, and they need a lot of help. With Pittman, they’ll get a player who hasn’t even reached his full potential on the basketball court. Under head coach Pat Riley (assuming he’s back at the helm), Pittman will learn how to play as a true center and hone his game to be a defensive presence and add timely rebounding and scoring to a team lacking an identity. He’s another “coach’s player,” and Miami is in need of some roster changes to help take the pressure off of Dwayne Wade. If “Big Baby” Davis is any indication in Boston, Pittman has a chance to make an impact in the starting line-up, or coming off the bench.
Other relevant Big 12 players drafted in the first two rounds of the 2010 NBA Draft:
1st/#6 – Epke Udoh, Baylor (Golden State Warriors)
1st/#11 – Cole Aldrich, Kansas (New Orleans Hornets, traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder)
1st/#12 – Xavier Henry, Kansas (Memphis Grizzlies)
1st/#20 – James Anderson, Oklahoma State (San Antonio Spurs)
1st/#21 – Craig Brackins, Iowa State (Oklahoma City Thunder)
2nd/#47 – Keith Gallon, oklahoma (Milwaukee Bucks)
2nd/#54 – Willie Warren, oklahoma (Los Angeles Lakers)