Just a week removed for the Golden State Warriors becoming NBA champs for a seventh time in franchise history, the 2022 NBA Draft takes place tonight at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. While the last few editions of the draft haven’t had much for Ohio State fans to get excited about, this year a couple of Buckeyes should hear their named called in the first round by NBA commissioner Adam Silver.
Malaki Branham and E.J. Liddell are poised to be the latest Ohio State players selected in the NBA Draft. Over the years there have been quite a few Buckeye products that have been drafted in the annual event. To get Buckeye fans prepared for tonight’s draft, we dove inside the numbers.
Since 1947, Ohio State has had 53 players drafted in the NBA Draft. Jack Underman and Paul Huston were the first Buckeyes taken, with Underman being taken seventh overall, followed by Huston coming off the board with the next pick. Underman never played professionally, instead becoming an oral surgeon after college. Huston played one season for the Chicago Stags, averaging 3.6 points per game.
The last Buckeye to be selected in the NBA Draft was Keita Bates-Diop, who was selected in the second round of the 2018 NBA Draft with the 48th overall selection by the Minnesota Timberwolves. Bates-Diop just wrapped up his fourth season in the league, appearing in 59 games for the San Antonio Spurs, averaging 5.7 points per game and 3.9 rebounds per game. Bates-Diop was the 14th Ohio State player to be chosen in the NBA Draft since 2000.
Almost half of the Ohio State players selected in the NBA Draft have been first round picks (24 in total). Eight of those first round picks have come since the 2007 edition of the draft, which kicked off a stretch that saw at least one Ohio State player drafted in the first round in four straight years. If you include Jared Sullinger, who was taken with the 21st pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, the Buckeyes saw at least one player drafted in the first round in five of six years between 2007 and 2012.
The last Ohio State player drafted in the first round of the NBA Draft came in 2015, when the Los Angeles Lakers selected D’Angelo Russell with the second overall pick. Russell joined Evan Turner as the only Ohio State players to be selected with the second overall pick in the draft, as Turner was selected by the Philadelphia 76ers just after John Wall in the 2010 NBA Draft.
Only one Ohio State player has ever been taken with the first pick in the NBA Draft. The Portland Trailblazers made Greg Oden the first pick in the 2007 NBA Draft. Unfortunately, Oden’s body didn’t allow him the chance to live up to the hype. Not only did Oden miss the 2007-08 season, he was only able to play in 105 games during his NBA career. It was obvious that Oden was a force on the floor, especially on the defense end, it’s just a shame we didn’t get to see him fully healthy during his time in the NBA.
There’s very little doubt on who is the best draft pick to ever come out of Ohio State is. John Havlicek was taken by the Boston Celtics with the ninth overall pick in the 1962 draft. During his 16 years in the NBA, Havlicek scored 26,395 points, which ranks 17th all-time in NBA history. Hondo scored more than 12,000 points more than Mike Conley, who has scored the second-most points amongst players drafted out of Ohio State.
Along with his impressive point total, Havlicek also won eight NBA titles with the Celtics, and was named the NBA Finals MVP in 1974, making him the only former Buckeye to earn that honor. The Martins Ferry product was a 13-time All-Star during his career, earned NBA All-First Team honors four times, and was included on the NBA’s All-Defensive First Team five times. Havlicek had his number retired by both Ohio State and the Boston Celtics.
Three picks before John Havlicek was taken in the 1962 NBA Draft, Jerry Lucas was selected as a territorial selection by the Cincinnati Royals. The Buckeye not only was part of the school’s 1960 national championship team, he led the NCAA in rebounding in 1961 and 1962.
After starting his career with the Cleveland Pipers in the ABL, Lucas joined the Royals for the 1963-64 season, winning Rookie of the Year honors after averaging 17.7 points per game and 17.4 rebounds per game. Lucas is still the only Ohio State product to win Rookie of the Year honors.
During his 11-year NBA career, Lucas would grab 12,942 rebounds, which ranks 17th all-time in the NBA. Lucas is the only Buckeye with over 10,000 career rebounds. The Middletown native averaged at least 15 rebounds per game in seven seasons, and had two years in which he eclipsed 20 rebounds per game.
Mike Conley was selected with the fourth pick by the Memphis Grizzlies in the 2007 NBA Draft. While Greg Oden’s career was shortened due to injuries, Conley has been going strong in the NBA for 15 years. Even though he hasn’t been able to win a championship, Conley has been one of the best defenders in the league for years.
Conley’s best season came in 2012-13, when he led the league with 174 steals. The high mark came during a five-year stretch where Conley recorded at least 100 steals in each of those seasons. In five other seasons Conley has been credited with at least 89 thefts. Conley is the only former Buckeye to record at least 1,000 career steals in the NBA.
One mark by a Buckeye in the NBA that will likely never be topped is the 1,605 blocks Herb Williams recorded during his career. Kosta Koufos has the second-most blocks by an Ohio State draft pick in the NBA, with his 506 rejections sitting just 1,099 behind Williams. Currently, the block total by Williams ranks 31st in NBA history. The Marion-Franklin grad was taken with the 14th pick by the Indiana Pacers in the 1981 NBA Draft
Ohio State draft picks have combined for 23 All-Star Game appearances. While that may seem like a high number, Havlicek and Lucas combined for 20 All-Star Game appearances during their incredible careers. Michael Redd, D’Angelo Russell, and Mike Conley are responsible for the other three All-Star Game appearances, with each player earning a trip to the annual exhibition.