Five local players -- Gorgui Dieng, Nerlens Noel, Archie Goodwin, Cody Zeller and Victor Oladipo -- were taken in the fir at round of the NBA Draft.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – The college basketball season started with Indiana, Louisville and Kentucky ranked in the top three spots in the polls. U of L hung an NCAA title exclamation point on the season in April. It ended Thursday night with the Wildcats, Cardinals and Hoosiers each putting two guys in the NBA Draft, five in the first round.
Mark it down as the first time since 1996 that all three programs produced a first-rounder in the same year.
This was different with IU's Victor Oladipo (second to Orlando) and Cody Zeller (fourth to Charlotte) leaving the board first. That's higher than Scott May (second) and Quinn Buckner (seventh) were taken when they led the Hoosiers to the game's last perfect season in 1976.
They were followed by the surprising slide of UK center Nerlens Noel from the likely first overall pick to the actual sixth selection. He'll be in Philadelphia, which acquired him in a trade with New Orleans.
For about 3.7 seconds everybody thought that Noel was now a teammate of former UK star Anthony Davis for a team called the Pelicans. Even John Calipari seemed intrigued to see who was going to score on these two. They even had a nickname -- Block Party. Bam. It was over.
Gorgui Dieng needs a new wardrobe, preferably something with Gore-Tex. He's off to Minnesota. The Timberwolves made a deal to get him from Utah. He was the first U of L player off the board, but not the last. Peyton Siva is now a Detroit Piston. Yep, the Good Kid is now a Bad Boy.
Kentucky freshman Archie Goodwin's night was just as jarring. He made a surprise appearance in the first round. He was drafted by Golden State, which acquired the pick from Oklahoma City but traded Goodwin to Phoenix.
Confused? Don't worry. So am I. But just remember that Phoenix -- and the first round -- are something for Goodwin to celebrate.
But here is my Draft Report Card: Kentuckiana Edition
VICTOR OLADIPO, Orlando, second pick
The Good: Cleveland had the first pick, but the Magic had the worst record. They won only 20 games. Plenty of playing time is available. The Magic have already handed Oladipo jersey #5. They want him to hurry to town. They need somebody who doesn't play like Mickey Mouse on defense.
The Bad: It never seems to end well for guys in Orlando. Ask Shaquille O'Neal. Or Penny Hardaway. Or Dwight Howard.
The Salary: $3.969 million.
The Quote: "Surreal feeling, man. I've been watching this draft pretty much all my life, and to actually be a part of it and to actually be the No. 2 pick in this draft is truly a blessing from God."
CODY ZELLER – Charlotte, fourth pick
The Good: Your boss is Michael Jordan. Kemba Walker and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, two guys who have won national titles, are your teammates. You're in a town that loves hoops and is hungry to win. You will play.
The Bad: Intense booing broke out at a team-sponsored draft viewing party when Zeller's name was announced. They can act that way sometimes about a Big Ten guy in ACC country. Especially when the fans preferred Noel or Ben McLemore of Kansas. And they don't trust Jordan's record of terrible draft picks.
The Salary: $3.214 million
The Quote: "It's one of my top choices just because it's a young group of guys with Kemba Walker and Kidd‑Gilchrist especially. Guys with good motors that play the right way. They get up and run. It's a good group of young guys. Charlotte seems like a great city. I think all around it's a great fit for me."
NERLENS NOEL, Philadelphia, sixth pick
The Good: The Sixers have been looking for a big man since Moses Malone walked out that door. There's a new coach in town. Noel's roots are on the East Coast. Philly is a great hoops town, a franchise looking for a star.
The Bad: Philadelphia sports fans chew up guys that don't produce. Any grumbling Noel heard at UK will seem like hugs and kisses. Noel's knee injury knocked him down from the likely first pick to the sixth, a development that will cost him nearly $1.8 million next season. And the Sixers dumped their top scorer, Jrue Holiday, to get Noel.
The Salary: $2.643 million
The Quote: "I thought everything was in the air, so I wasn't thinking I was the No. 1 pick. I was just staying open, and I'm definitely very blessed and fortunate to be drafted to the New Orleans Pelicans (and then dealt to Philly). I'm just looking forward to it."
GORGUI DIENG, Minnesota, 21st pick
The Good: The Timberwolves have new direction with general manager Flip Saunders. They have a need in the middle. And they have two talented veterans – forward Kevin Love and guard Ricky Rubio – who can really pass.
The Bad: Minnesota hasn't made the playoffs since 2004. Kevin Garnett had to leave town to get a ring. The cold weather drove me out of there after two days. The Timberwolves aren't even the most beloved basketball team in town. The Minnesota Gophers are.
The Salary: $1.127 million.
The Quote: "You know, if somebody, like, knows my game, I'm very competitive. I just play hard and I just do whatever that the coach want me to do. That's how Coach P (Rick Pitino) taught me how to play the game: ‘Listen to your coach and try to please him.' I think if I go to Minnesota I can learn‑‑ they have veterans up there. I can learn from them. Some day I will become a great basketball player."
ARCHIE GOODWIN, Phoenix, 29th pick
The Good: Not many people expected Goodwin to be picked in the first round. The Suns are just beginning a total rebuild. They can be patient with Goodwin, who gets guaranteed first-round money. They need guys who can score. That's what Goodwin does -- score.
The Bad: Steve Nash doesn't live there any more. The Morris twins and Michael Beasley do. Phoenix is a franchise in decline. The Suns are on their third coach since January.
The Salary: $887,000.
The Quote: Goodwin didn't attend the draft in Brooklyn.
PEYTON SIVA, Detroit 56th pick
The Good: In March, Siva wasn't listed among the top 75 players for this draft. He pushed his way into the second round with a strong NCAA Tournament and his upbeat, encouraging personality. The Pistons need some fresh faces to promote.
The Bad: The Pistons have not won more than 30 games since 2009. Their highest paid player is another point guard, Jose Calderon, who makes more than $11 million. Their 2013 attendance ranked 28th in the league, ahead of only the Pelicans and Kings. The Tigers, the Lions, the Red Wings, the Wolverines and the Spartans are hotter than the Pistons with Detroit fans these days.
The Salary: $490,180
The Quote: "Teams really liked the fact that we were able to win the national championship and I showed that I could play against all types of guards playing in the pressure of the tournament."