"My rule was I wouldn't recruit a kid if he had grass in front of his house.
That's not my world. My world was a cracked sidewalk." —Al McGuire

Friday, June 25, 2010

LAZAR! 7th first round pick means MU only school with 4 NBA seniors since 2005

I was on a three hour drive through rural Alabama wearing a Lazar Hayward jersey last night when I heard the crackling voice from Cincinnati’s ESPN affiliate say the word “Lazar” and I knew Marquette’s leader had defied all odds to become the 7th player in MU history to be selected in the 1st round.

That announcement guaranteed $850,800 for the upcoming season and $914,600 for the following season. After four years of unselfish play that included playing out of position for the good of the team and willing MU to the NCAA after the Three Amigos left, no one could have deserved it more.

His guaranteed contract as a first round pick means that he will join Travis Diener (2005), Steve Novak (2006) and Wesley Matthews (2009) as the 4th player since 2005 to play all four years at Marquette and then go straight to the NBA. In an era of one-and-dones, Marquette is the only school that can make that claim.

Seniors to go to NBA since 2005

FOUR SENIORS (1 school): Marquette (Travis Diener 2005, Steve Novak 2006, Wesley Matthews 2009 and Lazar Hayward 2010.)

THREE SENIORS (4 schools): Arizona (Channing Frye, Salim Stoudamire, Hassan Adams), Duke (Shelden Williams, JJ Redick, Daniel Ewing), UNC (Tyler Hansbrough, Danny Green, David Noel) and Washington (Brandon Roy, Jon Brockman, Quincy Pondexter).

TWO SENIORS (14 schools): Boston College, Florida, Florida St., Illinois, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan State, New Mexico, Oregon, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, UCLA, UConn and Villanova.

ONE SENIOR: 32 schools

ZERO SENIORS: 296 schools

As for the history books, The list of “First Round Pro Picks” for Marquette on page 262 of ESPN’s Basketball Encyclopedia will have to be expanded to seven: Dean Meminger (1971 New York), Jim Chones (1972, New York ABA), Maurice Lucas (1974 Chicago), Bo Ellis (1977 Washington), Butch Lee (1978 Atlanta), Dwyane Wade (2003 Miami) and Lazar Hayward (2010 Washington).

After being listed as a possible late 2nd round pick or undrafted by ESPN and most mock draft services, Lazar Hayward’s four years of hard work was rewarded when he became the 7th Marquette player ever selected in the first round. The closest prediction came from www.nbadraft.net, which moved Lazar up to the 6th pick of the 2nd round the day of the draft, but even that was not high enough.

Three months after being snubbed for All-Big East honors, Lazar at least 12 spots ahead three of the 1st team selections in Da’Sean Butler (42nd pick), Luke Harangody (52nd pick) and Scottie Reynolds (undrafted). I hope all the Big East players make it, but I’m glad the NBA scouts and coaches who are hired and fired based on picking the best players got it right.

Fellow Big East players Dominque Jones, Wes Johnson and Greg Monroe joined Lazar in the first round, so will also enjoy guaranteed contracts the next couple of years.

Certainly Kentucky can take pride in being the first school ever to have five players chosen in the first round, but with four of those five players playing only one year for the Wildcats, I’ll take getting to watch Diener, Novak, Matthews, Hayward as well as McNeal and James for four years each over Calipari’s one-and-dones anytime.

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