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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Arizona Wildcats in the NBA

File Photo  / The Daily Wildcat

Former Wildcat Solomon Hill shoots the ball against ASU on Jan. 19 in Tempe.
File Photo / The Daily Wildcat Former Wildcat Solomon Hill shoots the ball against ASU on Jan. 19 in Tempe.

Arizona basketball fans can still follow some of their favorite former Wildcats at the next level, though the stars’ days of playing in McKale Center are over.

Currently, nine Arizona alumni are on eight different rosters in the National Basketball Association.

The list of names includes veterans like Jason Terry, Andre Iguodala, Richard Jefferson and Channing Frye, along with players with a few years’ experience such as Jerryd Bayless, Jordan Hill and Chase Budinger. Derrick Williams is now in his third season in the league, while Solomon Hill was just picked 23rd overall in the NBA draft over the summer.

Since 1988, Arizona has produced 36 draft picks, the most in college basketball.

“It feels great to be a first-round draft pick, and it’s very humbling,” Solomon Hill said on draft night in a press release. “I’ve learned that you have to focus on being the best player you can be and do the little things to help your team win. That’s something [Arizona head] coach [Sean] Miller helped me focus on over the last few seasons, and it’s great to see the hard work pay off.”

Terry is in his 15th NBA season and his first with the Brooklyn Nets after coming over in a trade from the Boston Celtics that also included Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. Terry was a key part of Arizona’s 1997 national championship team and played a large role coming off the bench during the Dallas Mavericks’ NBA title run in the 2010-11 season.

After being traded from the Denver Nuggets to the Golden State Warriors in a deal that involved sending Jefferson to the Utah Jazz, Iguodala cashed in on a four-year, $48 million deal. The 2012 NBA All Star is off to a fast start with the Warriors this year, averaging 15.1 points, five assists and 4.4 rebounds per game.

Now suiting up for a fifth team, Jefferson has started all eight of Utah’s games this season. He has previously played for the Golden State Warriors, San Antonio Spurs, Milwaukee Bucks and Brooklyn Nets.

Frye has returned for a fourth season with the Phoenix Suns after missing all of last season due to a heart issue. The eighth overall pick in the 2005 draft has started all seven games for Phoenix, averaging 6.7 points and 4.7 rebounds.

Bayless came off the bench last season to help lead Memphis to the Western Conference Finals. Throughout the 2012-13 playoffs, he averaged 9.3 points per contest.

For the Minnesota Timberwolves, Williams has been coming off the bench while Budinger is still recovering from arthroscopic surgery and a meniscectomy on his left knee. Over the offseason, Budinger was re-signed to a three-year, $16 million deal.

Jordan Hill will serve as a big body from the bench again this season for the Los Angeles Lakers. In March 2012, he was traded from the Houston Rockets for longtime Lakers point guard Derek Fisher.

The Indiana Pacers have had an incredible start with Solomon Hill as a bench player. Currently, the Pacers are the only undefeated team left in the NBA with a perfect 8-0 record.

“I love the position I’m in,” Hill said. “The Pacers are a great team that competes for championships. I now get the chance to learn from their older guys, so I have a chance to carve out a role and do whatever I can to help the team be successful.”

Since he took over as head coach of Arizona in 2009, Miller has produced three NBA draft picks, two going in the first round and one in the top five,. Apart from Williams and Solomon Hill, former Wildcat power forward Grant Jerrett was chosen in the second round, 40th overall, by the Portland Trail Blazers in June.

However, Jerrett is not expected to play in the NBA this season. After being dealt to the Oklahoma City Thunder for cash and considerations on draft night, he decided to sign with the D-League’s Tulsa 66ers instead of trying for a spot on the Thunder’s roster during training camp.

Miller said he looks to continue producing NBA-material players at the UA.

“[We are] a program that is committed to our own team and the development of it, embracing the great teams and players of the past,” Miller said at the press conference after the Red-Blue game in October, “and we are certainly well aware of the importance of recruiting.”

—Follow Joey Putrelo @JoeyPutrelo

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