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Lowe: A Look Back at LSU in Basketball Drafts

Lowe: A Look Back at LSU in Basketball Drafts

So the graphics on Twitter keep counting down to the 2016 NBA Draft on Thursday and we wait to see how things play out.

But what has already played out and what you are seeing on Twitter (@LSUBasketball) is a look back at some of the top draft choices for LSU in its basketball history.

It’s been pretty good.

A total 54 Tigers have been drafted since the start of the professional leagues we’ve come to know today. Of those, 14 have been first-round picks.

Joe Dean was the first person chosen in the first round of the 1952 draft by the Indianapolis Olympians. Remember them? They didn’t last much past that 1952 draft but Dean was the fifth pick of the first round.

The legendary Bob Pettit came out two years later and was the second pick of the Milwaukee Hawks in 1953. The Hawks would become the St. Louis Hawks down the road when the team had its many final round showdowns with the nearly impossible to beat Boston Celtics.

By the way, the first pick in the draft that year? Frank Selvy of Furman. He did score 100 points in a college game in his career. Pettit would play until 1965, was a two-time MVP, 11 time All-Star and one of three LSU players to win an NBA title.

Another prolific scorer would be the third pick in the draft to the Hawks franchise in 1970, although now Atlanta was the home, Pete Maravich. “Pistol” would play until 1980 and his time would include a stint with the then-New Orleans Jazz, where he dazzled fans in the Superdome as he did in the Parker Ag Center.

LSU had other first-round picks but it would be 20 years before draft night produced a top three pick for the Tigers. Chris Jackson would set a DI record for freshman scoring in 1989 at over 30 points a game and earned POY honors in earning the pick of the Denver Nuggets.

Jackson’s selection would start a four-year run of first-round picks for LSU with Stanley Roberts selected by Orlando in 1991, Shaquille O’Neal by Orlando in 1992 and Geert Hammink chosen by, again, Orlando in 1993.

Now back to that O’Neal pick by the Magic in 1992. It wasn’t just any pick. It was the No. 1 pick with David Stern and television entity TNT all over it. We’ve attached some of that broadcast including his interview with Craig Sager. It’s pretty fascinating stuff. That draft was held in Portland, Oregon.

Here’s some behind the scenes information that the Orlando Sentinel published last year about that night and how the Magic and then GM Pat Williams almost missed the pick:

“We had a telephone intercom system. We were ready to have the dramatic announcement. I came out to announce our draft pick. Live and in color. And you have five minutes to pick. As you start the first one, they would say ‘Team No. 1 you’re on the clock.’

“But we can’t get the phone to work. We cannot get this phone to work. We had engineers there. And the clock is ticking down … five, four [minutes]. We are now literally coming down to two. And I am thinking, ‘this is going to be the biggest faux pas in sports history. We’re going to have to pass on this pick, and Charlotte is going to have the first pick, and they’re going to get Shaq. And Alonzo Mourning is going to go to Minnesota and we’re out.’

“Now we’re at the one minute mark. I am sick as a human being can be. Screaming ‘what are we going to do?’

“Alex [Martins] was our PR guy. And unbeknownst to anybody, Alex very calmly with his antiquated cell phone, had called into the draft room and informed the key NBA people in New York that Orlando was going to take Shaquille O’Neal.

“But I am screaming, now at the 30-second mark.

“It’s already taken care of,” Martins said.

See, those clunky phones weren’t so bad after all.

Stromile Swift played just a season and a half at LSU but was part of LSU’s Sweet 16 run in 2000 and he impressed in earning POY honors in the league to get the second pick of the then Vancouver Grizzlies. Swift would play over 500 games in the NBA.

The last player chosen in the top four in the draft certainly had a strange time at the beginning of his NBA career as redshirt freshman Tyrus Thomas dazzled everyone in LSU’s 2006 Final Four campaign to be the fourth pick of the draft by the Portland Trail Blazers. He came out and met Stern and put on the cap, but there was behind the scenes activity brewing.

In the end, the Chicago Bulls and Portland made the following trade: Chicago traded the Draft rights to LaMarcus Aldridge (the second overall pick) and a future Bulls second round draft choice to the Portland Trail Blazers for the Draft rights to Tyrus Thomas (the fourth overall pick) and the contract of Viktor Khryapa.

So both teams apparently wanted the other pick so Chicago picked Aldridge to keep him for Portland and then Portland followed up to get Thomas so the Bulls could have him. Makes perfect sense. Welcome to the draft.

Of course, just last year, there was the latest first round pick as Jarell Martin went to the Memphis Grizzlies with their selection.

What you have to realize is that if someone like a Tim Quarterman is a second round pick in this draft, it doesn’t mean your NBA future isn’t bright. Brandon Bass was drafted in the second round by New Orleans in 2005 and is the school’s veteran member having completed 11 years in the league and having played the third most games of any LSU player in the NBA (706).

What about Glen Davis? Not the happiest when he finally did get called in the second round, he participated in an NBA championship winning team in 2008 with Boston.

So it goes. The clock continues to tick toward draft day and in this spot very early Thursday we will update everything we know about the draft and what is happening in Brooklyn in the hours before what may the first No. 1 selection for LSU since 1992.

1952 – Joe Dean – Indianapolis Olympians
1954 – Bob Pettit – Milwaukee Hawks (2nd pick)
1970 – Pete Maravich – Atlanta Hawks (3rd pick)
1983 – Howard Carter – Denver Nuggets
1985 – Jerry Renolds – Milwaukee Bucks
1986 – John Williams – Washignton Bullets
1990 – Chris Jackson (Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf) – Denver Nuggets (3rd pick)
1991 – Stanley Roberts – Orlando Magic
1992 – Shaquille O’Neal – Orlando Magic (1st pick)
1993 – Geert Hammink – Orlando Magic
2000 – Stromile Swift – Vancourver Grizzlies (2nd pick)
2006 – Tyrus Thomas – Portland Trail Blazers (4th pick, traded that night to Chicago)
2008 – Anthony Randolph – Golden State Warriors
2015 – Jarell Martin – Memphis Grizzlies