Led by UNLV's Bennett, League-Record Four MW Players Selected in 2013 NBA Draft
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - On the heels of one of the most exciting Mountain West men's basketball seasons in Conference history, the MW recognized another historic milestone as UNLV freshman forward Anthony Bennett was selected Thursday as the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft by the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Bennett is the second player in the 14-year history of the Mountain West to be picked No. 1 overall in the NBA Draft (Utah's Andrew Bogut, 2005). The Mountain West is one of three conferences (C-USA, SEC) to have multiple No. 1 NBA draft picks since the league's inception in 1999-00.
Bennett, a 6-8 forward, garnered MW Freshman of the Year and Associated Press honorable mention All-America accolades this past season. He was the league's top freshman scorer in 2012-13, ranking seventh overall with 16.1 points per game. The Brampton, Ontario, Canada, native was also second in the Conference in field goal shooting percentage (.533), fourth in blocked shots (1.2) and fifth in rebounding (8.1). Bennett became the first player to be drafted from UNLV since Marcus Banks was selected No. 13 overall in 2003, and is the highest a Runnin' Rebel has been taken since Larry Johnson was also selected No. 1 by Charlotte in 1991. Bennett, the first Canadian to be picked higher than No. 4 in NBA history, is the Rebels' eighth top-10 pick in history and fifth to go in the top five.
New Mexico's Tony Snell was selected with the 20th pick of the 2013 NBA Draft by the Chicago Bulls. A 6-7 guard from Riverside, Calif., Snell helped lead New Mexico to 2013 MW regular-season and tournament titles and a trip to the NCAA tournament en route to earning third-team All-MW honors. He is the highest Lobo hoops draft pick since Danny Granger went No. 17 to the Indiana Pacers in 2005. Snell is the eighth first-round draft choice in Lobo history, and the sixth since 1991, when Luc Longley was drafted seventh by the Minnesota Timberwolves. J.R. Giddens was the last first-round selection for the program, going 30th to the Boston Celtics in 2008.
This year marked the third time the MW had two players chosen in the first round of the NBA draft. In addition to Bogut and Granger in 2005, BYU's Jimmer Fredette and San Diego State's Kawhi Leonard were chosen as the No. 10 and 15 picks, respectively, in the first round of the 2011 draft. Overall, 10 former MW hoopsters have been first-round NBA selections in the Conference's 14-year history.
Two more MW players heard their name called during the second round of Thursday's NBA draft. San Diego State guard Jamaal Franklin was the No. 41 pick by the Memphis Grizzlies, while Colorado State center Colton Iverson was picked No. 53 by the Indiana Pacers.
In the 2012-12 campaign, Franklin led the Aztecs in scoring (17.0), rebounding (9.5), assists (3.3) and steals (1.6), making the first-team All-MW selection the only player in America to lead his squad in all four per-game categories. Franklin is the second SDSU player in three years (Kawhi Leonard in 2011) to be taken in the NBA Draft and 19th overall.
Moments after being named the No. 53 overall pick in the second round, Iverson's rights were traded to the Boston Celtics. Iverson, the 2013 MW Newcomer of the Year, becomes the 21st player in CSU history to be taken in the league's annual selection process. The seven-footer ranked ninth nationally in field-goal percentage (.556), and averaged a team-high 14.2 points per game, notching 14 double-doubles on the year. Iverson is the first Ram selected in the NBA Draft since Jason Smith was selected No. 20 overall in the 2007 draft by the Miami Heat.
The Mountain West's four NBA Draft selections in 2013 are the most-ever in a single year for the league, surpassing the previous record of two (2005, 2011).
This year's draft completes a banner year for MW men's basketball. A Conference-record seven teams participated in postseason action in 2012-13, including a record five squads in the NCAA tournament. Regular-season champion New Mexico captured the MW tournament title to earn the league's automatic bid, while Boise State, Colorado State, San Diego State and UNLV received at-large invitations to the NCAA tournament. Air Force and Wyoming also took part in postseason action, playing in the College Basketball Invitational and CollegeInsider.com tournaments, respectively. Five different Mountain West teams were ranked in at least one national poll at some point during the 2012-13 campaign, marking a first for the Conference.
|MW MEN'S BASKETBALL STUDENT-ATHLETES SELECTED IN 2013 NBA DRAFT|
|1||1||Anthony Bennett||F||Cleveland Cavaliers||UNLV|
|1||20||Tony Snell||G||Chicago Bulls||New Mexico|
|2||41||Jamaal Franklin||G||Memphis Grizzlies||San Diego State|
|2||53||Colton Iverson||C||Indiana Pacers||Colorado State|