This week, we take a look at some past number 1 picks of the NBA Draft, and what they are up to today!
(Picture above is “The Candy Man”, 1998 Number 1 pick Michael Olowokandi, one of the biggest number 1 busts to date)
1947 BAA (Basketball Association of America…later NBA)
Clifton McNeely out of Texas Wesleyan was drafted number one by the Pittsburgh Ironmen in the first professional basketball draft. McNeely opted not to play professional basketball (I can’t imagine the pay was that great back then) and instead decided to coach at Pampa High School in Texas. He coached for 13 years and won 4 state titles and is currently in the Texas High School Basketball Hall of Fame. He died in 2003 at the age of 84.
1965 – Fred Hetzel (Davidson University) – San Francisco Warriors
Fred Hetzel must be a baller, because he has the same birthday as The Mixtape Monster. He was on the elite list of 2000 points, 1000 rebounds in his career at Davidson. He was named to the 1966 NBA All Rookie Team, and played 6 seasons in the NBA. Currently in the real estate industry in Virginia.
**Note: Drafted 5 this year was future Hall of Famer and UNC player Billy Cunningham**
1977 – Kent Benson (Indiana) – Milwaukee Bucks
Benson won the title in 1975-76 with Bobby Knight as his coach at Indiana. Benson was the LAST WHITE, AMERICAN BASKETBALL PLAYER TAKEN NUMBER 1 IN THE NBA DRAFT. Two minutes into his very first game, he was punched in the face by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (Jabbar broke his hand) in retaliation for an elbow. He spent 11 seasons in the NBA averaging 9.1 ppg. No word as to what he is up to now.
1989 – Pervis Ellison (Louisville) – Sacramento Kings
Injuries plagued the NBA career of “Never Nervous Pervis” calling some to change his Louisville-earned nickname to “Out of Service Pervis”. He played from 1989-2001, but I don’t think got a full season of work in at all. He currently coaches basketball for various teams in Southern New Jersey, living there with his wife and 3 children. He did win the 1991-1992 NBA Most Improved Player Award.
1995 – Joe Smith (Maryland) – Golden State Warriors
Joe Smith is still in the NBA and giving productive minutes to the Cleveland Cavaliers on their title push in this year’s NBA Playoffs. Never really an All Star, but quite a solid player for a long time.
2000 – Kenyon Martin (Cincinnati) – New Jersey Nets
Martin is still going strong in the league and playing for the Denver Nuggets. His line last night in a Game 1 Western Conference Finals loss was 15 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, 2 blocks. In the year 2000, Cincinatti retired his jersey (#4). Martin was the LAST FOUR YEAR COLLEGE SENIOR TO BE DRAFTED NUMBER 1.