Sunday, June 8, 2003

Dow: XU, UC connected to NBA Finals

College basketball insider

With the NBA Finals underway and the pre-draft camp just ending in Chicago, the pro league is in the news more than the amateurs are at this time of the year.

In the spirit of the Finals, we'll continue that trend by listing all the University of Cincinnati and Xavier players that have played in the NBA Finals. Some, like New Jersey's Kenyon Martin, are obvious. Others you might not have known.

Cincinnati has had eight former players reach the Finals to Xavier's four. Until Martin first appeared in 2002, however, UC hadn't had a representative since Jim Ard in 1976 with the Boston Celtics.

Dave Piontek is Xavier's only multiple Finals attendee with two consecutive trips in 1960 and 1961 with the St. Louis Hawks. The Hawks lost to the Celtics both years. Xavier is still waiting for its first former player to win an NBA championship.

Martin and XU's Aaron Williams are teammates with New Jersey, but no former XU and UC players have played against each other in the Finals.

Cincinnati's Tom Thacker is the only player to play on NCAA, ABA and NBA championship teams.

UC/XU players in the NBA Finals

Player Former School NBA Team Finals Year
Jim Holstein Cincinnati Minneapolis 1953, 1954
Jim Holstein Cincinnati Fort Wayne 1955, 1956
Dave Piontek Xavier St. Louis 1960, 1961
Ron Bonham Cincinnati Boston 1965, 1966
Tom Thacker Cincinnati Boston 1968
Rick Roberson Cincinnati Los Angeles Lakers 1970
Oscar Robertson Cincinnati Milwaukee 1971, 1974
Luther Rackley Xavier New York 1972
Derrek Dickey Cincinnati Golden State 1975
Tyrone Hill Xavier Philadelphia 2001
Aaron Williams Xavier New Jersey 2002, 2003
Kenyon Martin Cincinnati New Jersey 2002, 2003

WHAT MEMO? The NCAA sent a letter to college coaches prior to the pre-draft camp advising them not to attend the Chicago camp.

The basis for this was that there could be recruitable players at the camp, which falls on the NCAA recruiting calendar during a quiet period, meaning coaches are not allowed to evaluate prospects.

The only problem is there are no recruitable players at the camp because high school star James Lang already has signed with an agent, and junior-college freshman Sani Ibrahim lost his eligibility simply by declaring for the draft. Sending the letter might have made sense if unsigned high school seniors such as Charlie Villanueva were participating. But he's not. Villanueva worked out privately with teams in Chicago but did not attend the camp.

Xavier's Thad Matta and UC's Bob Huggins did not attend, but several coaches ignored the memo and showed up anyway to watch their former players. Among them were Marquette's Tom Crean watching Robert Jackson, Creighton's Dana Altman watching Kyle Korver and Ball State coach Tim Buckley there to see Theron Smith.

BIG SHOES TO FILL: Xavier's Romain Sato will play the same summer camps David West did last year, the summer before he won National Player of the Year honors. Sato will attend the Nike All-American camp and the Jordan Flight School.

BOGANS' STOCK UP: One year ago, Kentucky guard Keith Bogans turned in an awful performance in Chicago after a lackluster junior year with the Wildcats. So he came back to school, led UK to a season-ending No. 1 ranking and earned first-team All-Southeastern Conference honors.

Still, he needed to come into the camp this week proving he could make jumpers. Bogans did just that, averaging 13.3 points in three games and hitting plenty of mid-range and long-range jump shots, including 5-of-12 on 3-pointers.

Most scouts have said Bogans has a chance to be drafted in the second round, although his height, listed at 6-feet-4 1/4, is short for an NBA shooting guard.



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Dow: XU, UC connected to NBA Finals
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