Budinger continues 'Burger Game' tradition

Arizona has not done as well as other programs when it comes to landing players in the McDonald's All-American game. All too often the rosters tend to be ACC heavy, but even if there is an Eastern bias, there was no doubt that Chase Budinger deserved to be in the game

Considering that Arizona is among the best programs at stocking the NBA (just look at All-Star weekend), they have routinely been snubbed by the most high profile of high school all-star games. Budinger continues a tradition that has been a bit strange for the Wildcats. He should become the 14th player to suit up for the Wildcats to play in the game. Of those 14, four did not originally sign with the Cats but later came via transfer. Two more, Ndudi Ebi and Stephen Jackson, signed with the Cats but never played a game for Lute Olson.

Budinger will get the honor of playing in front of the hometown fans. The game will be played at Cox Arena in San Diego, Budinger preps at La Costa Canyon High School just north of the city.

The first Wildcat to play in the game was Craig McMillan backing 1984. The next year Sean Elliott was named to the team.

Three of the next four Wildcat players in the game transferred to Arizona. Brian Williams, Chris Mills and Ben Davis played in the 1987, 1988 and 1991 games respectively. Williams originally signed with Maryland, Mills with Kentucky, while Davis was originally a Kansas pledge.

The exception to the transfer trend was Khalid Reeves who played in the 1990 game.

No Wildcat player would appear in the game again until 1996. The 96 game featured Mike Bibby, Loren Woods and Jackson. Jackson failed to qualify and went pro. Woods originally enrolled at Wake Forest before transferring to Tucson. Mike Bibby won a national championship one-year later.

1997 saw Luke Recker, then an Indiana signee play in the game. Recker transferred to Arizona but then transferred to Iowa before every playing a regular season game for the Wildcats.

1998 and 1999 had consecutive Wildcat performers. Richard Jefferson played in the '98 game in Norfolk, VA, while Gardner played the next year in Ames, IA.

the Cats had a drought until the 2002 season. That began a three-year string of future Wildcats playing in the game. 2002 saw Hassan Adams make an appearance. 2003 was a showcase for Ebi and Mustafa Shakur. 2004 ended the run with an appearance by Jawann McClellan.

Last year Marcus Williams did not make the game, but three other Seattle players did. Jon Brockman, Martell Webster and Micah Downs all played in the game. So far Williams has had the best college career. Williams is the frontrunner for Pac-10 Rookie of the Year, though Brockman is in the mix. Downs has already left Kansas, while Webster was a Lottery pick who has spent quite a bit of time in the NBA's development league.

Of the Wildcats to play in the game, three are still in college, while eight have played in the NBA. Craig McMillan and Jason Gardner never played a regular season NBA game. Ebi and Jackson also made NBA rosters, with Jackson still in the league.

Reeves and Jackson had the best outings. Reeves scored 22 points in the 1990 contest. Back in 1996 he had 21 points. In that same game Bibby scored 15, with Woods pumping in 12.

Adams and Mills both had double figure scoring nights, but did not shoot well in their appearances. Adams was 6-15, while Mills was 4-13.

Sean Elliott is the only Wildcat to fail to score. Elliott did not attempt a shot or free throw in the 1985 game. McClellan was 0-8 from the field, but knocked down three foul shots.

Budinger continues on the tradition, but will certainly not be the last. Future Wildcat Jerryd Bayless is already getting the kind of attention that warrants serious consideration for the game.

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