Personally (or IMHO, as they say on the Internets) I think Kosta Koufos would have been better served playing another year of college basketball at Ohio State.
If the 7-footer from Canton was truly recruited to play the forward position – as he claims he was – then why didn’t he return for the 2008-09 season when he could have played that position for the Buckeyes? With true center B.J. Mullens entering the program this coming fall, Koufos could have moved to his more comfortable position at the 2, shot threes to his heart’s content and potentially moved into the top five of next year’s NBA draft.
Of course, young people are often impatient. (I don’t remember being impatient as a teenager but I’m sure that I was.) Why continue to slave away with college courses and tough practices for practically nothing when you can bolt to the pro ranks where they will pay you many millions of dollars to play a game?
When the Utah Jazz called Koufos’ name with the 23rd overall selection in last night’s draft, he became the 20th Buckeye to go in the first round. Of course, being selected in the first round doesn’t guarantee success in the league.
Here is a list of the Ohio State basketball players who were first-round NBA draft picks and how they fared during their pro careers.
Jack Underman, St. Louis Bombers, 1947 – Underman was the All-Big Ten center in 1946 and Ohio State’s most valuable in 1947, and became the seventh overall selection in the Basketball Association of America draft (the precursor of the NBA) later that year. But Underman never played for the Bombers, who went 29-19 in ’47-’48 and finished first in the Western Division. They lost in the league semifinals to the Philadelphia Warriors.
Paul Huston, Chicago Stags, 1947 – The eighth overall pick of the BAA draft, Huston was a 6-3, 175-pound forward who played only one season with the Stags, a team coached by former Ohio State head coach Harold Olsen. He averaged 3.6 points in 46 games and helped Chicago to the BAA semifinals, where they lost to the Baltimore Bullets.
Dick Schnittker, Washington Capitols, 1950 – The 6-5, 200-pounder was the fourth overall pick of the draft behind Chuck Share of Bowling Green, Don Rehfeldt of Wisconsin and Bob Cousy of Holy Cross. Schnittker played only one season in Washington but logged five seasons with the Lakers when they were still in Minneapolis and helped the team to the NBA title in 1954. He finished his six-year career with averages of 8.3 points and 3.8 rebounds per game. Schnittker was also an excellent free-throw shooter, finishing among the league’s top five in that category in three of his six seasons.
Larry Siegfried, Cincinnati Royals, 1961 – The third overall pick in ’61 behind Walt Bellamy of Indiana and Tom Stith of St. Bonaventure, Siegfried was selected by the Royals to team in the backcourt with Oscar Robertson. But Siegfried didn’t want to play in Cincinnati after Ohio State’s loss to the University and Cincinnati in the NCAA Finals that year. He opted to play in the American Basketball League with the Cleveland Pipers, and the team won the league title. When the ABL went bankrupt the following year, Siegfried was close to giving up the game until former OSU teammate John Havlicek asked Boston Celtics head coach Red Auerbach to give Siegfried a tryout. Siegfried went on to play seven seasons in Boston and was a member of five NBA championship teams. He finished his career in 1971 and ’72 bouncing around with San Diego, Atlanta and Houston, and wound up with averages of 10.8 points, 3.5 assists and 2.8 rebounds per game. Siegfried was also a pure free-throw shooter, leading the league twice during his career and finishing with a lifetime percentage of 84.5 (1,662 for 1,945).
Jerry Lucas, Cincinnati Royals, 1962 – Considered one of the best college players in history, Lucas also opted out of playing in Cincinnati and signed a unique player-management contract with Cleveland Pipers owner George Steinbrenner. However, the ABL went bankrupt before Lucas got on the court and he started his pro career one year later with the Royals. Over 829 games with Cincinnati, San Francisco and New York, Lucas averaged 17.0 points and 15.6 rebounds. The rebound figure is fourth all-time in league history. During his 11-year career, he was a seven-time all-star, finished among the top 10 in field goal shooting seven times, finished among the top 10 rebounders eight times and helped the Knicks to the 1973 NBA championship. He was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1980.
John Havlicek, Boston Celtics, 1962 – While Lucas was going to Cincinnati with a territorial pick in ’62 draft, Havlicek was headed to Beantown with the seventh overall pick of the first round. Red Auerbach was never sorry. Hondo was a catalyst for eight NBA championships, playing offense and defense with equal greatness. He finished his 16-year career in Boston with averages of 20.8 points, 6.3 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game and was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1984.
Gary Bradds, Baltimore Bullets, 1964 – The 6-8 pure shooter was the third overall pick in 1964 behind Jim Barnes of Texas-El Paso and Joe Caldwell of Arizona State. Bradds played two seasons for the Bullets and finished his career with four different teams in the old ABA. He retired after the 1971 season with overall averages of 12.2 points and 5.5 rebounds per game. Bradds returned to his native Jamestown, Ohio, and became a teacher and school administrator but tragically died of cancer in 1983 at the age of 40.
Bill Hosket, New York Knicks, 1968 – The 6-8, 225-pound Hosket was the No. 10 pick in the ’68 draft. He played 86 games over two seasons for the Knicks and was a member of the 1970 NBA championship team. Hosket left the Knicks after that season and finished his brief NBA career with two years in Buffalo with the Braves. In 143 career games, he averaged 4.0 points and 2.5 points per game.
Jim Cleamons, Los Angeles Lakers, 1971 – The 13th selection in the ’71 draft, Cleamons bounced around the league throughout his nine-season career. His longest stint was a five-year stay in Cleveland between 1973-77. In addition to the Lakers and Cavaliers, Cleamons also played for the Knicks and the Bullets and finished his career with averages of 8.3 points, 3.9 assists and 3.0 rebounds per game. He later embarked on a coaching career and earned several NBA championship rings in Chicago and Los Angeles as a member of Phil Jackson’s staff.
Kelvin Ransey, Chicago Bulls, 1980 – The Bulls made Ransey the fourth overall pick and then traded him to Portland. The players taken ahead of the 6-1 guard from Toledo Macomber High School were Joe Barry Carroll of Purdue, Darrell Griffith of Louisville and Kevin McHale of Minnesota. In six seasons with the Trailblazers, Dallas Mavericks and New Jersey Nets, Ransey averaged 11.4 points and 5.2 assists per game.
Herb Williams, Indiana Pacers, 1981 – After an excellent career at Ohio State, it was somewhat surprising that Williams fell to the No. 14 spot in the ’81 draft. But that began an 18-year playing career that took him to Indiana, Dallas, New York and Toronto. Herbie wound up playing in 1,102 games – 48th all-time – and finished his career with averages of 10.8 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.5 blocked shots per game.
Clark Kellogg, Indiana Pacers, 1982 – Kellogg was the first Buckeye basketball player to leave school with eligibility remaining when the Pacers made him the eighth pick in the ’82 draft. He spent his entire five-year, injury-plagued career in Indiana and averaged 18.9 points, 9.5 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.5 steals over 260 games. Knee injuries forced him into retirement at age 25.
Tony Campbell, Detroit Pistons, 1984 – The 20th selection in the ’84 draft, Campbell played for six different franchises during his 11-year career. Donning uniforms for the Pistons, Lakers, Timberwolves, Knicks, Mavericks and Cavaliers, the 6-7 swingman averaged 11.6 points and 3.1 rebounds in 690 NBA games. He was a member of the 1988 league championship team with Los Angeles, averaging 6.2 points on a roster that included Magic Johnson, James Worthy and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
Brad Sellers, Chicago Bulls, 1986 – The 7-footer from Warrensville Heights went with the No. 9 pick in the ’86 draft, ahead of such future stars as Mark Price and Dennis Rodman. Sellers played three seasons in Chicago, leaving just as the Michael Jordan championship era was beginning. He finished his seven-year career bouncing around to Seattle, Minnesota, Detroit and then back to Minnesota, winding up with averages of 6.3 points and 2.7 rebounds per game.
Dennis Hopson, New Jersey Nets, 1987 – Hopson went No. 3 in the ’87 draft behind David Robinson of Navy and Armon Gilliam of UNLV. He spent only three seasons in New Jersey and then retired two years later after playing only five years and 334 games in the league. For New Jersey, Chicago and Sacramento, Hopson averaged 10.9 points, 2.8 rebounds and 1.6 assists.
Jim Jackson, Dallas Mavericks, 1992 – Jackson redefined the term “journeyman.” After the Mavs took J.J. with the fourth overall pick in ’92, he played for 12 different franchises over the next 14 seasons. By the time he retired after the 2006 season, Jackson had logged time with the Mavericks, Nets, 76ers, Warriors, Trailblazers, Hawks, Cavaliers, Heat, Kings, Rockets, Suns and Lakers. And he was pretty good for all 12. His career averages: 14.3 points, 4.7 rebounds, 3.2 assists. Unfortunately, the closest Jackson got to a championship ring was 1999 with Portland and 2005 with Phoenix. Both teams lost in the Western Conference finals to San Antonio.
Greg Oden, Portland Trailblazers, 2007 – Ohio State’s first-ever No. 1 overall pick – remember Lucas was a territorial selection – sat out his rookie season after undergoing microfracture surgery on his right knee. He has been rehabbing for the past several months and is hopeful of being near 100 percent when the Trailblazers kick off their 2008-09 season in October.
Mike Conley Jr., Memphis Grizzlies, 2007 – The 6-1 point guard was taken with the No. 4 pick of last year’s draft, behind only Oden, Kevin Durant of Texas and Al Horford of Florida. In his first season in the league, Conley played in 52 of the Grizzlies’ 82 games (including 46 starts) and averaged 9.4 points and 4.2 assists for a team that finished fifth in the Southwest Division with a 22-60 record.
Daequan Cook, Philadelphia 76ers, 2007 – Cook experienced an up-and-down rookie season after being selected with the 21st overall pick last year. The Sixers shipped him to Miami on draft day, and Cook spent a three-game midseason stint with Iowa in the Developmental League. After tearing up the D-League by averaging 19.3 points and 7.0 rebounds for the Energy, he returned to South Beach and wound up playing 58 games for the Heat, including 19 starts. His season averages: 8.9 points, 3.0 rebounds and 1.3 assists.
Happy 41st birthday today to former Ohio State linebacker John Kacherski, a big, quick player whose career was plagued by knee problems. Born June 27, 1967, in Oceanside, N.Y., John Richard Kacherski was a star defensive player at Milford (Conn.) Academy, registering 47 sacks during his final two seasons. He finally broke into the OSU starting lineup as a sophomore in 1988 and led the Big Ten in sacks with nine. He missed all of the following season following knee surgery, and returned in 1990 only to blow out the knee again in the season opener after making four first-half tackles including two sacks. Kacherski rehabbed again and returned for his senior year in 1991, elected one of the team captains for the season. He started all 12 games the Buckeyes played that years, and he later played seven games in the NFL for Denver during the 1992 season. Kacherski returned with his family to the Columbus area in 2002 and works for a transportation company.
Also celebrating birthdays today are businessman and former U.S. Presidential candidate Ross Perot; songwriter and Beach Boys member Bruce Johnston; former Boston Red Sox shortstop/third baseman Rico Petrocelli; Chicago Cubs outfielder Jim Edmonds; Washington Senators catcher Johnny Estrada; fashion designer Vera Wang; TV actress Julia Duffy (“Newhart, “Designing Women”); Minnesota Vikings head coach Brad Childress; 2004 U.S. Open women’s singles champion Svetlana Kuznetsova; country singer Lorrie Morgan; Craftsman Truck Series driver Johnny Benson; film director and producer J.J. Abrams (“Mission: Impossible III,” “Cloverfield,” the upcoming “Star Trek” prequel in 2009); and Spiderman himself, actor Tobey Maguire.
** Houston Astros pitcher Shawn Chacon was suspended and then released after he grabbed team general manager Ed Wade by the neck and threw him to the floor of the team dining room at Minute Maid Park earlier this week. The team’s official reason for the suspension and release: insubordination. You think?
** Chacon’s explanation of the incident: “I lost my cool.” You think?
** Former champion Maria Sharapova was upset yesterday by the world’s 154th-ranked player in the second round of this year’s Wimbledon. For those of you who don’t know what the hell I’m talking about, Wimbledon is a big tennis tournament they hold each year in Great Britain. Used to be a much bigger deal.
** Here’s a strange twist: Major league umpire Brian Runge has been suspended for one game because he bumped New York Mets manager Jerry Manuel during an argument on Tuesday.
** That Indiana athletic director Rick Greenspan will resign in December isn’t surprising. The fact that IU didn’t fire him immediately after the Kelvin Sampson disaster – now that’s surprising.