As we inch towards the 2016 NBA Draft, it's time to take a look at the Big Ten's track record when it comes to representation on basketball's highest level. Here at BTPowerhouse, we are breaking down the draft histories of each team and counting down the top NBA players these schools had to offer.
Next up, we are taking a dive into the deep draft history of the Ohio State Buckeyes.
In NBA history, fifty-two college hoopers have come out of Columbus as draft hopefuls and possibly looking to make their mark in the pros. The first ever drafted Buckeye was Jack Underman in the first round of the inaugural NBA draft in 1947. The Buckeyes then took the lead in the category of most first round picks when Paul Hurston was the very next selection.
The most recent league entrant was 2015’s second overall pick D’Angelo Russell, and he is the newest member of five Ohio State players currently on NBA rosters: Mike Conley, Kostas Koufos, Jared Sullinger, Evan Turner, and Russell. The current Laker guard is just the latest of 25 total Buckeye first rounders in draft history.
With the sheer amount of talent pouring out of Columbus and into the draft, there have been a number of great Buckeyes to grace the hardwood.
Let’s count them down.
5. Arnie Risen
Nicknamed "Stilts", the 6-foot-9 center, however, was not the typical size for an NBA big. But the Buckeye big man is a Hall of Famer after nearly averaging a double for his career (12 points and 9.7 rebounds per game). Risen is a two-time NBA champion, four-time NBA All-Star, and during his prime averaged 15 PPG and 12 RPG.
4. Michael Redd
Redd spent most of his time playing for the Milwaukee Bucks where he built a very solid career. In six of his 12 seasons, Redd averaged at least 20 points per game. He was a sharpshooter from three-point range as he ranks second in Bucks history in made three pointers. For his career, Redd averaged 19 PPG and shot 38% from downtown.
3. Neil Johnston
Standing at 6-foot-8, Johnston, like fellow Buckeye Arnie Risen, is an undersized center but also a Hall of Famer. Johnston was a dominant center for the Philadelphia Warriors and led the league in scoring three years in a row from 1952-1955. He averaged at least 20 PPG for five of his eight seasons, led the NBA in field goal percentage three times, and led the league in rebounding in the 1954 season. Johnston was forced to retire due to a serious knee injury in the 1958 season but finished with career averages of 19.4 PPG, 11.3 RPG, and 2.5 APG.
2. Jerry Lucas
Not only is Lucas one of the greatest Buckeyes in NBA history but also one of the best players in league history. Lucas was named to the NBA’s 50th Anniversary All-Time Team, a list comprising of the 50 greatest players in NBA history. He was one of the league’s best ever rebounding forwards as he averaged 15.6 RPG over his 11 year career while also racking up 17 PPG and 3.3 APG. Lucas accumulated many more accolades during his time in the league: Rookie of the Year, NBA champion with the Knicks, seven-time NBA All-Star, and three-time All-NBA First Team.
1. John Havlicek
Another Buckeye Hall of Famer as well as top 50 NBA great, Havlicek is one of the greatest players on the most successful NBA franchise of all-time. The lifelong Boston Celtic is undoubtedly the greatest Buckeye to make it to the pros. Havlicek averaged 20.8 PPG, 6.3 RPG, and 4.8 APG over 17 seasons. The 6’5" guard/forward is an eight-time NBA champion (8-0 in the NBA Finals), a FInals MVP, 13-time NBA All-Star, four-time All-NBA First Team, and five-time NBA All-Defensive First Team. To top it all off, he is the Celtics all-time leading scorer and his number 17 jersey is retired forever in Boston.