As the NBA Draft rapidly approaches, BTPowerhouse continues to look at the draft histories of Big Ten programs. Today we take a look at the Nittany Lions, a team that hasn't had many draft picks throughout it's history and even less since they joined the Big Ten. While the team does have two currently active NBA players (and another likely on his way this upcoming season), they haven't had a player selected in the draft since Calvin Booth back in 1999.
Nittany Lions Currently in the NBA
|Player||Draft Year||NBA Team||GP||PPG|
|Tim Frazier||2015||Trail Blazers||11||8.6|
Penn State only has two players currently active in the NBA, though neither have been major contributors for their teams. Chris Babb, who entered the league in 2013 as an undrafted free agent, originally played at Penn State before transferring to Iowa State. Babb played in 14 games his rookie season for the Celtics, averaging 1.6 points per game in 14 appearances. Babb hasn't played in a NBA game since, but he did finish the 2014-15 season on the Celtics roster. Babb has seen a considerable amount of playing time in the D-League, though, where he has averaged 13.9 points, 5.8 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game in his two seasons with the Maine Red Claws.
The other Penn State alum in the NBA is former point guard Tim Frazier, who also went undrafted. Frazier was the 2014-15 NBA D-League MVP and Rookie of the Year, averaging 16.3 points, 9.6 assists, 7.2 rebounds and 1.7 steals per game, also with the Maine Red Claws. Frazier turned his success into a short stint with the 76ers, where he averaged 5.7 points and 7.2 assists per game during six appearances. He ended up finishing the season in Portland, coming off of the bench five times and adding 3.4 assists per game in limited minutes. It'll be interesting to see if Frazier can turn his success in the D-League into landing a more permanent roster spot in 2015-16.
Of course the Nittany Lions will be sending D.J. Newbill to the NBA next season, with Newbill likely to follow a similar route to Frazier.
Pre-Big Ten Era
It took Penn State awhile to get going, with the only player drafted prior to the 1980s to spend more than a year in the league being Bob Weiss, who was drafted in the third round back in 1965. Weiss spent 12 years in the league, averaging 7.6 points and 3.7 assists in 783 games and winning a title with the 76ers in the 1967. The former guard would go on to coach in the NBA for four different teams, with a career record of 223-299 and most recently going 13-17 for Seattle back in 2005-06.
The most notable former Penn State alum to get drafted would easily be Frank Brickowski, a forward/center that was drafted in the 3rd round by the Knicks in 1981. Brickowski wouldn't make it to the NBA until 1984, but he would go on to see time starting for the Spurs and Bucks while also playing for a handful of teams, including the Sonics when they played in the NBA Finals back in 1996. His best year in the association was his first year as a full starter for the Spurs, averaging 18.1 points and 7.8 rebounds per game in 68 starts.
Oh, and Brickowski wasn't a big fan of Dennis Rodman...
The pre-Big Ten era at least had Brickowski and Bob Weiss, but since then things have been relatively bare for the Nittany Lions as their only NBA Draft pick came in the second round of 1999 when Calvin Booth was selected by the Wizards. Booth was never a major contributor for the seven teams he played for, never starting more than 35 games in a single season, but he did manage to stay in the league until 2009. His career highlight came in the 2001 playoffs when he made the game winning layup of Game 5 against the Jazz (and boy do I miss those old Utah jerseys):
Unfortunately for the Nittany Lions, it doesn't look like they'll land another NBA Draft pick in 2015. That being said, they should have another alum with an opportunity to make a NBA team roster, but it seems unlikely that Newbill will land at the end of the second round and will have to work his way onto a team through the summer league / D-League instead.