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NBA draft: Pac-12 has more first-rounders than NCAA tourney teams

June 29, 2012|By Ben Bolch
  • Former Washington standout Terrence Ross makes his way to the stage after being selected eighth overall by the Toronto Raptors in the NBA draft on Thursday.
Former Washington standout Terrence Ross makes his way to the stage after… (Peter Foley / EPA )

There was basketball talent in the Pac-12 Conference this season.

It just wasn't apparent by watching the NCAA tournament.

A conference that put only two teams into college basketball's biggest postseason tournament and secured only one victory (thanks to newcomer Colorado, of all teams) had three players selected in the first round of the NBA draft on Thursday night.

None of them came from UCLA or USC, but you probably already knew that.

Washington, snubbed by the NCAA tournament selection committee despite winning the Pac-12 regular-season title, had a pair of players taken in swingman Terrence Ross (by Toronto with the No. 8 pick) and combo guard Tony Wroten Jr. (by Memphis with the No. 25 selection).

The Elias Sports Bureau might still be researching the last time a team had two first-rounders and failed to make the NCAA tournament. It's not the kind of information Huskies Coach Lorenzo Romar will be asking to be included in the media guide.

"I didn't think I would go this high," Ross acknowledged to reporters after the draft.

He's not the only one. Ross was a surprise pick at No. 8 after being considered a fringe lottery selection before the draft. Raptors Coach Dwane Casey told the National Post that the team liked the shooting touch of the 6-foot-6 Ross, who converted 37% of his three-point attempts last season.

Wroten joins a logjam of guards in Memphis, but he knows something about breaking through: He was the first freshman in Huskies history to be a first-team all-conference selection after averaging 16 points, 3.7 assists and 1.9 steals.

Jared Cunningham became the third Pac-12 player drafted when the former Oregon State guard was taken with the No. 24 selection by Cleveland and traded to Dallas. An Oakland native whose game reminds some of Gary Payton, Cunningham was also compared by Mavericks Coach Rick Carlisle to Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook.

The 6-4 Cunningham averaged 17.9 points while shooting 45% last season.

For the rest of the Pac-12, including perennial powers UCLA and Arizona, it's better luck next year ... in the draft and making the NCAA tournament.

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