Four WAC Players Selected in NBA Draft

NEW YORK, NY — Fresno State’s Paul George and Nevada’s Luke Babbitt were selected in the first round of the NBA draft, while Nevada’s Armon Johnson and Louisiana Tech’s Magnum Rolle were selected in round two. George and Babbitt become the 34th and 35th players from the WAC to be selected in the first round of the NBA draft. PAUL GEORGE, FRESNO STATE (1st Round, 10th overall pick, Indiana Pacers) The honor cemented George as the program’s highest draft pick in Fresno State history as the first top 10 pick in an NBA Draft. Babbitt ties Kirk Snyder as Nevada’s highest-ever draft pick Snyder was also selected 16th in 2004. George, a native of Palmdale, Calif., headlines the ranks of former Bulldogs playing professionally as the fifth `Dog selected in the first round and the first since Fresno State fielded a pair of first round draft picks in 2002 when Melvin Ely was selected 12th overall by the Los Angeles Clippers and Chris Jefferies went 27th overall to the Los Angeles Lakers. With George’s selection tonight, 21 former Bulldogs have now been drafted by NBA teams with seven more also playing in the league, dating as far back as 1958. George is the second draftee for Steve Cleveland’s system over the past five years of guiding his hometown team as Dominic McGuire was taken in the second round in 2007 by the Washington Wizards. While at BYU, Cleveland developed Rafael Araujo into the No. 8 overall pick in the 2004 NBA Draft. Throughout his Fresno State career, George showcased his elite athleticism and passion for the game of basketball. As a sophomore, he delivered the program’s best season at the free throw line (120-132, 90.9%), ranked as one of the top 20 sophomore NCAA scorers, and averaged 16.8 points, 7.2 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 2.2 steals and 0.8 blocks per game while shooting 42.4 percent (154-363) from the field and 35.3 percent (122-308) on 3-point attempts. He scored a career-high 30 points in his first game back from an ankle injury in early February. George also received one of 18 invitations to the Under 19 USA Basketball Training Camp (June 2009) and was named the West’s Most Entertaining Player by SI.com in Fall 2009 after his breakout freshman campaign. He sparked his collegiate career with an appearance in ESPN’s College Hoops Tip Off on the road at Saint Mary’s College when George earned Sportcenter’s Top Play of the Day for a one-handed slam dunk on two Gael defenders that instantly made him a YouTube sensation. George prepped at Pete Knight High School and produced an average of 25 points, 12 rebounds, three assists and three steals per game during his senior season. LUKE BABBITT, NEVADA (1st Round, 16th overall pick, Minnesota Timberwolves) Babbitt, a 6-9, 225-pound sophomore from Reno, Babbitt was named the Western Athletic Conference Player of the Year and an honorable-mention All-American by the Associated Press this past year. He also became the first men’s basketball student-athlete in Nevada history to be named an ESPN the Magazine Academic All-American, earning second-team honors. A two-time first-team All-WAC selection and all-district honoree by both the National Association of Basketball Coaches and the United States Basketball Writers Association, Babbitt led the Wolf Pack in scoring and rebounding in each of his two seasons at Nevada. In 2009-10, he ranked second in the WAC and ninth in the NCAA with 21.9 points and second in the league and 51st in the nation with 8.9 rebounds per contest. Babbitt also broke the school single-season scoring record with 743 points in 2009-10 and became just the eighth player in school history to reach 1,000 points in two seasons. He led the WAC and checked in at third in the nation in free throw shooting at 91.7 percent (199-217) this year and broke Nevada’s single-season records for free throws made (199) as well as free throw percentage. He also set the school record for consecutive free throws made, knocking down his final 34 free throw attempts of the season. Babbitt ends his Wolf Pack career ranked 12th on Nevada career scoring list with 1,316 points and is also first in career free throw shooting at 89.3 percent (351-393) and fifth in career three-point percentage at 42.1 percent (75-178). He started all 68 games over the last two years and scored in double figures in 59 of those 68 contests. In his Wolf Pack career, Babbitt averaged 19.4 points and 8.1 rebounds per game. ARMON JOHNSON, NEVADA (2nd Round, 34th overall pick, Portland Trailblazers) Johnson, a 6-3, 195-pound junior from Reno, Johnson earned second-team All-Western Athletic Conference honors this past season after leading the conference and ranking 22nd in the nation with 5.6 assists per game. He also was second on the team and eighth in the WAC in scoring with 15.7 points per game this season. A two-time all-district selection by the National Association of Basketball Coaches, Johnson led the Wolf Pack in assists in each of his three seasons and finishes his career ranked fourth in all-time assists at Nevada with 445. He became the sixth player in school history to score at least 1,000 points and dish out at least 250 assists and ends his career ranked ninth in all-time scoring at Nevada with 1,441 points. Johnson played in 101 career games with 99 starts and averaged 14.3 points, 4.4 assists and 3.7 rebounds in his Nevada career. He was also named the 2008 WAC Freshman of the Year and earned first-team all-conference honors as a sophomore. MAGNUM ROLLE, LOUISIANA TECH (2nd Round, 51st overall pick, Oklahoma City Thunder) Rolle, from Freeport, Bahamas, averaged 13.9 points while manning the frontcourt with 8.4 rebounds and leading the WAC with 2.09 blocks per game. Rolle, a second-team all-WAC performer had a career-high 29 points at Houston this season and three times recorded 17 rebounds. ALL-TIME WAC PLAYERS SELECTED IN FIRST ROUND OF NBA DRAFT Joe Caldwell, ASU, 1964 (2) – Detroit Pistons Jerry Chambers, UU, 1966 (7) – Los Angeles Lakers Craig Raymond, BYU, 1967 (12) – Philadelphia 76ers Mel Daniels, UNM, 1967 (9) – Sacramento Kings Greg Howard, UNM, 1970 (10) – Phoenix Suns Mike Sojourner, UU, 1974 (10) – Atlanta Hawks Lionel Hollins, ASU, 1975 (6) – Portland Trailblazers Charles Bradley, UW, 1981 (23) – Boston Celtics Tom Chambers, UU, 1981 (8) – Los Angeles Clippers Danny Vranes, UU, 1981 (5) – Seattle Supersonics Bill Garnett, UW, 1982 (4) – Dallas Mavericks Greg Kite, BYU, 1983 (21) – Boston Celtics Michael Cage, SDSU, 1984 (14) – Los Angeles Clippers Eric Leckner, UW, 1988 (17) – Utah Jazz Michael Smith, BYU, 1989 (13) – Boston Celtics Tim Hardaway, UTEP, 1989 (14) – Golden State Warriors Luc Longley, UNM, 1991 (7) – Minnesota Timberwolves Shawn Bradley, BYU, 1993 (2) – Philadelphia 76ers Theo Ratliff , UW, 1995 (18) – Detroit Pistons Charles Smith, UNM, 1997 (26) – Miami Heat Keith Van Horn, UU, 1997 (2) – Philadelphia 76ers Olivier Saint-Jean, SJSU, 1997 (11) – Sacramento Kings Michael Doleac, UU, 1998 (12) – Orlando Magic Keon Clark, UNLV, 1998 (13) – Orlando Magic Andre Miller, UU, 1999 (8) – Cleveland Cavaliers Kenny Thomas, UNM, 1999 (22) – Houston Rockets Shawn Marion, UNLV, 1999 (9) – Phoenix Suns Courtney Alexander, FS, 2000 (13) – Orlando Magic Jeryl Sasser, SMU, 2001 (22) – Orlando Magic Melvin Ely, FS, 2002 (12) – Los Angeles Clippers Chris Jeff eries, FS, 2002 (27) – Los Angeles Lakers Kirk Snyder, NEV, 2004 (16) – Utah Jazz JaVale McGee, NEV, 2008 (18) – Washington Wizards Paul George, FS, 2010 (10) – Indiana Pacers Luke Babbitt, NEV, 2010 (16) – Minnesota Timberwolves

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