That’s how many days it has been since Venson Hamilton was drafted by the Houston Rockets with the 50th pick of the 1999 NBA draft. Despite Big-12 player of the year honors his senior season, and setting school records that still stand to this day, he never played a single minute in the NBA. Instead, he enjoyed a lengthy career overseas.
What’s special about Hamilton? I’m not simply telling you this story because I feel like it (although it is kind of an interesting one), I’m telling you all of this because Hamilton was the last Cornhusker selected in an NBA draft.
There hasn’t been a single one since.
17 years, three head coaches and just one NCAA tournament appearance, the Cornhuskers are hoping this is the year they end that drought. With Tai Webster set to be available in he draft, this may be their best chance to get back into the draft in quite some time, even if it still seems relatively unlikely.
With that said, that is far from a sure thing. He will garner some looks as a dark-horse type prospect late in the second round, but will likely need to take the summer league route to end up on an NBA roster.
So, with the Cornerhusker draft drought likely to extend into an 18th year, let’s take a look at their brief history of NBA draft success.
I won’t look at every single player drafted, only the notable ones. If you’d like, here’s a full list of former Nebrasketballers who heard their names called on draft day.
The year before Hamilton’s selection, arguably the most famous Husker basketball player was drafted. In 1998, the Denver Nuggets spent the 23rd overall pick on a fellow by the name of Tyronn Lue. He was instantly shipped to the Lakers. He enjoyed a solid 11-year playing career, winning two championships with those early 2000’s Lakers teams.
He is perhaps most famous for being stepped over by Allen Iverson in the 2001 NBA finals—a moment that has become iconic for a multitude of reasons.
Now, he serves as the head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers (although everyone knows LeBron James is the captain, head coach, general manager and owner of that franchise). He is more popular than he has ever been, and after coaching the Cavs to two consecutive finals, including the infamous comeback from a 1-3 deficit in 2016, he only stands to become more popular and respected as an NBA coach.
After Lue, you aren’t looking at a whole lot.
Eric Piatkowski was the 15th pick in the 1994 draft and had a 14-year career as a journeyman-type player. 7’2 Rich King was the 14th overall pick in the 1991 draft. He played just 4 seasons in the NBA, all with the Seattle Supersonics. Dave Hoppen was a third round pick in the 1986 draft. His career perhaps epitomizes the term journeyman. He is, however, the school’s all-time leading scorer.
That’s about it. Seriously. There are a few others before the aforementioned, but you’d be looking in the eras of 12th round picks and territorial picks.
On the women’s side, the Huskers enjoy a fantastic recent history of WNBA draft picks. Kelsey Griffin was the third overall pick in the 2010 draft. Lindsey Moore the 12th in 2013, and Jordan Hopper the 13th in 2014.
As for the men’s side, it may still be a while before the school’s draft fortunes see a turn for the better.