Former Arizona Wildcats basketball players in the 2016 NBA Finals

An abundance of former Wildcats occupy this year's NBA Finals as players and coaches.

In a 2015 rematch, the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers face off for the most desired prize in basketball, the Larry O'Brien NBA Championship Trophy. Within the two teams is a large presence of former Arizona Wildcats.

The predominance of Wildcats competing for the championship was pointed out by Sean Miller via his twitter account on Wednesday morning.

https://twitter.com/UACoachMiller/status/738056481988182016

Here's a look at seven former Wildcats taking part in the the NBA Finals (from right to left).

Channing Frye, Cavaliers, Wildcat from 2001-2005

Starting in 119 of his 133 career games, Frye was first team all-Pac-10 in his final season at Arizona and ended his career second all-time in Pac-10 history in blocked shots. His senior year he was put on the midseason Naismith Award watchlist, and averaged 18.1 points and 7.8 rebounds in his last ten games while shooting at a rate of 69.7 percent. Frye's last Pac-10 tournament was by far his best, averaging 17.7 points and 5.7 rebounds in three games, shooting an unbelievable 76.7 percent (only missing seven shots).

His biggest game in a Wildcat uniform actually came in a loss to Illinois in the 2005 NCAA Tournament, when Frye posted 24 points and 12 rebounds against the top-seeded Illini in the Elite Eight.

Andre Iguodala, Warriors, Wildcat from 2002-2004

Iguodala's well-roundedness boosted him into the spotlight at Arizona, and he became the first player in program history to lead the team in rebounds, assists and steals in a season. He was top 15 in the Pac-10 in points, total rebounds, defensive rebounds, offensive rebounds, assists, and steals in his sophomore (and final) season at Arizona. At the time of his departure, he joined Jason Kidd as the only players in Pac-10 history to compile multiple triple-doubles in a single season. 

One of the many standout moments for Iguodala came in the championship of the 2003 Fiesta Bowl Classic against Louisiana-Lafayette. His 23 points marked his first collegiate game scoring over 20 points; he drilled the game-winning three-pointer with nine seconds remaining on a play that wasn't even drawn up for him. 

Richard Jefferson, Cavaliers, Wildcat from 1998-2001

Jefferson averaged double-digit scoring in all three of his seasons at Arizona. His successful NBA career included back-to-back Finals appearances ... and plenty of bouncing around the league. He helped lead the Wildcats to an NCAA title appearance as well in 2001, but perhaps his biggest contribution to the program came after he left.

His $3.5 million donation was the biggest donation a former athlete had made to the University of Arizona, and in turn the new practice facility for men's and women's basketball (as well as volleyball) has been named "Richard Jefferson Gymnasium."

Jefferson posted 19 points to go along with eight rebounds in the 2001 title game, and was selected to the all-Final Four team.

Steve Kerr, Warriors, Wildcat from 1983-1988 

The head coach of the Warriors averaged just over 11 points in his four-year career in Tucson, and in his senior season shot 57 percent from the three-point line (the third season the three-point line existed). Kerr was a two-time all-Pac-10 selection, and helped the Wildcats reach the Final Four in 1988. He was also a member of the last Olympic basketball team comprised of amateur players. 

Kerr and teammate Sean Elliott were named All-Americans in 1988, and Kerr was given the United States Basketball Writers Association's Most Courageous Award after overcoming the assassination of his father. 

Luke Walton, Warriors, Wildcat from 1998-2003

Walton, an assistant with the Warriors, was one of only three players in Pac-10 history with 1,000 points, 500 rebounds, and 500 assists at the time he left for the NBA. He tallied the fourth most assists in program history and led all front court players in the country in assists in his junior season. After being named a John R. Wooden All-American his junior year, he had an honorable mention All-American season and put together a very balanced NCAA tournament averaging 15.5 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 7.3 assists leading the 1-seed wildcats. 

Perhaps the most beloved aspect of Walton's career by Arizona fans was how well he did against Arizona State, where three of his 20-point games occurred. Walton tied a Pac-10 tournament record in 2002 when he made 11 shots against the Sun Devils in a 73-56 victory, which eventually propelled them to win the tournament. 

Bret Brielmaier, Cavaliers, Wildcat from 2004-2008

Despite being the Minnesota Class A Player-of-the-Year his senior year in high school, Brielmaier had to earn a walk-on spot. He still saw the court in 19 games his freshman season, and the team voted him "Mr. Hustle." Getting minutes in 92 games over a four-year career, Brielmaier averaged 1.7 points per game.

Brielmaier started two games as a sophomore, which was also the year he experienced his biggest Wildcat moment. In Arizona's 2006 NCAA Tournament game against Wisconsin, Brielmaier posted his first career double-digit scoring output, along with eight rebounds. Today he is an assistant coach for the Cavaliers.

Bruce Fraser, Warriors, Wildcat from 1983-1987

Fraser played with Kerr in the '80s, and was a graduate assistant to Lute Olson in 1988 when Arizona made the Final Four and beat North Carolina. Fraser has been on Kerr's staffs since his days in Phoenix, and today is a player development coach for the Warriors. 


Scout CBK Top Stories