TUCSON, Ariz. – Over the last two-plus decades, NBA Draft night has been a night of celebration for the Arizona men’s basketball program, as 38 UA players have heard their names called in the draft since 1988.
The Wildcats’ 38 selections are tied with Duke and Kentucky for the most in the nation over that span. Kansas has 35 selections and both North Carolina and UCLA have 34 to round out the top five nationally since 1988.
Aaron Gordon became the 19th first-round pick and 12th lottery pick in Arizona history on Thursday night when the Orlando Magic made him the fourth overall selection. The San Jose, Calif., native was the Wildcats’ third first-round pick in the last four years, and the second UA player in Sean Miller’s tenure to hear his name called among the first four picks in a draft (Derrick Williams, 2nd in 2011).
Nick Johnson became the fifth of Miller’s recruits to be chosen on draft night when the Houston Rockets selected him 42nd overall.
UA has had at least one player selected in 22 of the last 27 drafts, and has produced 67 draft picks overall. Ten of the Wildcats’ last 12 first-round picks have been lottery selections. Overall, five of UA’s last eight NBA Draft picks have been first-round choices.
Arizona has had five players selected since 2011, a total that ranks eighth nationally over that period of time. The Wildcats’ four selections over the last two years are good for second nationally in that span.
In the summer of 2013, ESPN ranked Arizona sixth among all college programs in terms of producing top NBA talent over the last two-plus decades.
UA players have been far from content by just hearing their names called on draft night, however. As has been reported by various media outlets, the fraternity of Arizona’s NBA players is nearing the collective $1 billion mark in career earnings, with the total haul exceeding $960 million during the 2013-14 campaign.
Collectively, the Wildcat players who have been drafted since 1988 are an accomplished group, having won 13 NBA championships and made six All-Star appearances. The group boasts a Rookie of the Year (Damon Stoudamire), a Sixth Man of the Year (Jason Terry) and a Most Improved Player (Gilbert Arenas).For the latest updates on Arizona men’s basketball and an inside look at the program, follow @APlayersProgram on Twitter and @uaplayersprogram on Instagram.