June 27, 2001
TUCSON, Ariz. - Five University of Arizona men's basketball players were selected in the 2001 NBA Draft, held Wednesday at The Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
Richard Jefferson, Gilbert Arenas, Michael Wright, Loren Woods and Robertas Javtokas were each selected in the NBA Draft, the highest number in school history. "There is no question that these players have the ability to be successful in the league," said Arizona head coach Lute Olson. "I've always said that the most important thing is to be drafted by the right organization, the right coach and the right style of play. But I am certainly disappointed that the picks weren't quite as high as each of these players deserved."
Jefferson, a 6-foot-7, 222-pound forward from Phoenix, Ariz., was the 13th pick of the first round by the Houston Rockets. He averaged 11.3 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2.7 assists in 35 games this season. Jefferson shot 47.9 percent from the floor and 34.4 percent from three-point range, while raking second on the team in blocked shots (28), third in rebounds (5.4), three-point field goals (31) and assists (94), and fourth in steals (27). Jefferson's rights were later traded to the New Jersey Nets as part of a four-player deal.
He was a key figure in Arizona's runner-up finish in the 2001 NCAA Tournament. Jefferson averaged 13.5 points and 6.3 rebounds while shooting 50.0 percent from the field in six tournament games. He was named to both the all-Midwest Regional and all-Final Four teams for his efforts. It was his defense that served as his calling card in the NCAA Tournament, as Jefferson limited Illinois' Frank Williams, the Big Ten Conference Player of the Year, and Michigan State's Jason Richardson, a second team All-American, to a combined 15 points on 5-of-26 shooting in back-to-back wins in March.
"Richard is such a talented player that he will make an impact with the New Jersey Nets," said Olson.
Arenas, a 6-foot-3, 200-pound guard from North Hollywood, Calif., was selected with the 31st pick (second round) by the Golden State Warriors. He led the team with a 16.2 points per game average, and shot 47.9 percent from the floor in 36 games this season. An ESPN.com third team All-America selection, Arenas also earned all-Pacific-10 Conference accolades in a season that saw him average 3.6 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.8 steals.
Arenas was one of the keys to Arizona's run to the National Championship game. Over the last 23 games of the season, he averaged 17.4 points and 2.5 steals, shot 52.0 percent from the floor and led the team to a 20-3 record in that span. In Pac-10 play alone, he shot 51.9 percent from the floor, including 47.7 percent from three-point range, while averaging 18.0 points per game. He was the NCAA Midwest Regional Most Outstanding Player and averaged 14.4 points in UA's six NCAA Tournament games.
"I think this is a good fit for Gilbert," said Olson. "He's a California kid and Golden State features a style that he plays best in."
Wright, a 6-foot-7, 238-pound forward from Chicago, Ill., was selected with the 39th pick (second round) by the New York Knicks. Wright averaged 15.6 points, and a team-leading 7.8 rebounds in 36 games this season. He also led the team with a 59.4 field goal percentage and shot 79.7 percent from the line. He collected nine double-doubles in 2000-01 and was one of two Wildcat players to start all 36 games this season.
Wright finished his career with 34 double-doubles, including a 10-point, 11-rebound effort vs. Duke in the National Championship game. He shot 61.4 percent from the floor in six NCAA Tournament games. Wright was a third team All-America selection by the Associated Press and ESPN.com, as well as all-Pacific-10 Conference, the Maui Invitational Most Valuable Player and a finalist for both the Naismith and Wooden Player-of-the-Year awards.
"Everyone I heard from loved Michael's work ethic and attitude," said Olson. "It will be difficult not to keep him on any roster due to his attitude and work ethic. There is no question that he can shoot the ball. Michael's success will be determined by how well he can defend."
Woods, a 7-foot-1, 245-pound center from St. Louis, Mo., was selected with the 46th pick (second round) by the Minnesota Timberwolves. Woods was an Associated Press honorable mention All-America selection after averaging 13.2 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.9 blocks per game. He was instrumental in leading the Wildcats to a runner-up finish in the 2001 NCAA Tournament by averaging 16.0 points, 7.7 rebounds and 4.0 blocks in six tournament games. He earned all-NCAA Final Four and all-NCAA Midwest Regional honors for his efforts. His 24 blocks set a new NCAA Tournament record.
Woods finished his collegiate career with 1,188 career points (11.1 ppg average), 687 rebounds (6.5) and 281 blocked shots (2.6). In his two-year Arizona career, he averaged 14.3 points per game and shot .522 from the field.
"Everyone I spoke with said that Loren had great workouts," said Olson. "Going to Minnesota will give him a good chance to show what he can do. Minnesota got a steal in Loren Woods."
Javtokas, a 6-foot-10, 230-pound forward from Siauliai, Lithuania, was selected with the 56th pick (second round) by the San Antonio Spurs. Javtokas averaged 0.8 points and 1.2 rebounds in eight games for the Wildcats during the 1999-2000 season. He shot 37.5 percent from the floor and averaged 6.9 minutes per game.
In his 28-year coaching career, Lute Olson has now produced 40 draft picks, 25 at Arizona. Overall, Jefferson was the 12th first-round draft choice in University of Arizona history with 11 of those coming in the Lute Olson era.