As the NBA Draft rapidly approaches, BTPowerhouse continues to look at the draft histories of Big Ten programs. The Ohio State Buckeyes have been prominent players in the NBA Draft since its inception. There have been 48 Buckeyes drafted, dating all the way back to Jack Underman and Paul Huston's selections as the 7th and 8th overall picks in the inaugural BAA (Basketball Association of America) draft of 1947, which later became the NBA.
Buckeyes Currently in the NBA
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There are four former Ohio State players in the NBA right now, led by Mike Conley. Conley is a proven starting point guard and has been a borderline all-star type of player for a number of years, including some playoff success in the NBA's tough western conference. He was part of the heralded 2007 draft class that finished as runner-up in the NCAA tournament, along with Daequan Cook and Ohio State's only number one overall selection, Greg Oden.
All of the current players are contributors to their teams and are finding ways to make their mark in Ohio Sate and NBA history.
This year, freshman D'Angelo Russell is the top guard on everyone's board and aims to become the sixth Buckeye taken in the top three overall. Let's start from the beginning and take a quick look back at the draft history of one of the Big Ten's most successful programs.
Following the 1947 picks, the next Buckeyes to be taken were in 1950, highlighted by Dick Schnittker's 5th overall selection by the Washington Capitols. A total of six players from Ohio State were drafted in the decade.
Nine Buckeyes were drafted in the '60s, including hall-of-famers Jerry Lucas and John Havlicek. They were taken sixth and ninth overall, respectively, in '62. Lucas went on to become a seven-time NBA All-Star and a champion in '73 with the Knicks. Havlicek won championships his first four seasons and eight overall as part of the Celtics dynasty playing alongside Bill Russell and other great players. Havlicek is the Celtics' all-time leader in games played and points, and ranks at or near the top in several other categories. He's still 13th on the NBA's all-time scoring list today with 26,395. Both Lucas and Havlicek were named to the NBA's 50 greatest players list in conjunction with the NBA's 50th anniversary celebration in 1996.
The '70s saw eight more players drafted out of Columbus. The highest selection among them was current Knicks assistant coach Jim Cleamons, taken 13th overall by the Lakers.
Nine Buckeyes heard their names called in the '80s, including six first-rounders. Clark Kellogg left after his junior year and was taken 8th by the Pacers in '82. His career was cut short by injury, but "Special K" is one of only 20 players in NBA history to average 20 points and 10 rebounds per game as a rookie.
Forrmer Knicks interim head coach Herb Williams was drafted 14th in '81 and Ohio State's all-time leading scorer Dennis Hopson was picked 3rd in '87.
The '90s were a relatively quiet decade in terms of NBA players from Ohio State. The only players drafted were Jim Jackson in '92 and Lawrence Funderburk in '94. Jackson, the fourth pick of the Dallas Mavericks, tied an NBA record by playing for 12 different teams during his 14 seasons. He started 650 of his 885 games played and averaged 14.3 points and 3.2 rebounds per game for his career. Funderburk played several productive seasons as a reserve for the Sacramento Kings.
Michael Redd was a second round pick in 2000, but carved out a very solid NBA career for himself with the Milwaukee Bucks and exceeded expectations. The sharpshooting Redd made his only All-Star appearance in 2004, but had his best season in 2007-08. That year he averaged 26.7 points per game and helped the "Redeem Team" claim gold in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Easily Ohio State's best showing in the draft came in 2007, when a trio of freshmen were all taken in the first round. Most notably, the Portland Trailblazers made center Greg Oden the first and only number one overall pick in Ohio State history. Mike Conley, who ended up having the best NBA career of the three, was taken 4th overall by the Memphis Grizzlies, and Daequan Cook went 21st to Philadelphia.
Oden's NBA career was riddled with injuries, including having to postpone his rookie season for a full year to recover from microfracture surgery. He showed flashes of the potential we all thought he had when he was taken first in the draft, but could never stay healthy enough to really contribute to a team consistently.
Kosta Koufos followed in the footsteps of the '07 class, leaving for the NBA after his freshman year in 2008 to be taken 23rd by the Utah Jazz. BJ Mullens, drafted 24th in 2009, continued the three-year trend of one-and-done centers at Ohio State. He has bounced around between the NBA, D-League, and overseas.
2010 - Present
In 2010, Evan Turner entered the draft after a spectacular junior season in Columbus. Turner led the Big Ten in scoring for the second year in a row at 20.1, and came in second in the conference in rebounds (9.1) and assists (6.0). He is the only player in conference history to even make the top five for all three of those categories in the same season. After winning the Wooden and Naismith awards among many other honors, Turner was taken second overall by the Philadelphia 76ers.
Jared Sullinger was drafted 21st in 2012 and is a key piece of the rebuilding effort for coach Brad Stevens' Boston Celtics.
The most recent player drafted from Ohio State was forward DeShaun Thomas in 2013. He was a late second round pick of the San Antonio Spurs, coming off of their loss to Miami in the finals. Thomas has yet to play in the NBA, but has had success playing in France and Spain the last two years.
Aaron Craft went undrafted in '14 but won a D-League championship with the Santa Cruz Warriors and was named NBA D-League Defensive Player of the Year in 2015.
Now all eyes will look to Russell at the 2015 NBA Draft as he represents Ohio State and the Big Ten and BTPowerhouse certainly wishes him the best of luck on Draft night.