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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Catch up with current NBA Wildcats

Amy Bailey
During the first few minutes of the Arizona vs Omaha game, freshman Josh Green (0) dunks the ball into the basket.

The Arizona men’s basketball team has produced multiple NBA Champions over the years, such as Steve Kerr, Andre Iguodala, Jason Terry, Channing Frye, Richard Jefferson and more. Let’s take a look at some of the former Wildcats who are still playing in the league. 

The most recent NBA draft had two players drafted in the first round and one in the second. 

Drafted in the first round with the sixth by the Indiana Pacers was shooting guard Bennedict Mathurin. Mathurin averaged 17.7 points in the 2021-22 season with Arizona and seems to have brought his high-scoring games with him to Indiana. 

On Oct. 29, the Pacers took on the Brooklyn Nets, and Mathurin was the star of the game, dropping 32 points and leading the Pacers to their third win of the season. Mathurin is averaging about 20 points a game in his first NBA season and is expected to keep improving.

The other Wildcat taken in the first round of the 2022 draft was Dalen Terry. Terry was taken 18th in the draft by the Chicago Bulls but hasn’t had the playing time to prove himself in the league just yet. 

The last Arizona men’s basketball alumnus taken in the 2022 draft was former Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year Christian Koloko. Koloko was taken by the Toronto Raptors and has been getting about 15 minutes of playing time a game but hasn’t made any big contributions yet. However, in the recent game between the Raptors and the Atlanta Hawks, Koloko tallied up nine points and five rebounds as he battled for more time.

University of Arizona men's basketball player Christian Koloko (35) blocks the shot of a University of Utah player at McKale Center on Jan 15. Arizona beat Utah 82 - 64.
University of Arizona men’s basketball player Christian Koloko (35) blocks the shot of a University of Utah player at McKale Center on Jan 15. Arizona beat Utah 82 – 64.

The draft class of 2020 also had three Wildcats taken. Two in the first round and one in the second. 

Taken in the first round at 18th by the Dallas Mavericks was Australian Olympic medalist Josh Green. Green has yet to average more than 5 points a game in his first three NBA seasons. His stat line has been rather low but he is continuing to get more playing time compared to his first year in the league. 

The second Wildcat taken in that draft was Power Forward Zeke Nnaji. He was taken by the Denver Nuggets with the 22nd pick. Nnaji averaged about 6.6 points and 17 minutes of playing time a game last season but hasn’t had the same playing time to start this NBA season. 

The second-rounder from that year was the highly talked about Nico Mannion as the 18th pick. Mannion had a little run with the Golden State Warriors, but he has since started playing in the EuroLeague.

Quite a few Wildcats are still having great success in the NBA, such as Aaron Gordon, Deandre Ayton and Lauri Markkanen. 

Gordon has the most prominent achievements so far out of the three after winning the Male Athlete of the Year in Basketball in 2013 and placing second in the 2016 slam dunk competition. 

However, Markkanen and Ayton have been making big names for themselves in the league, both averaging around 15 to 16 points a game throughout their NBA careers. Currently, Markkanen is playing with the Utah Jazz and is now averaging over 20 points a game for the first time in his career, which is all-star potential. The same can be said for Ayton, as he has been averaging about 8 rebounds a game with a very strong Phoenix Suns team. 

Arizona men’s basketball has been consistently pumping out NBA players that make major contributions to championship teams. With Mathurin, Markkanen and Ayton playing the way they are, hopes are high that the Wildcats’ winning tradition will continue. 

Follow Cole Johnson on Twitter 

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