Most UC basketball fans were expecting a Bearcat to be selected during Tuesday night's NBA draft from the Mecca of basketball Madison Square Garden.. For those who believed Jason Maxiell would be tabbed as one of the elite prospects by the Association, they were correct. Maxiell was selected with the 26th pick by the recent Eastern Conference Champion Detroit Pistons. However, for those of who that turned off the draft coverage or didn't realize that another former Bearcat was in the draft mix, you missed out on a "surprise" selection.
When Deputy Commissioner of the NBA Russ Granik called out the 51st selection of the 2005 NBA draft many of the Bearcat athletic fraternity heard a name that had only recently had been erased from their short term memory. Gone but not forgotten, Robert Whaley signed his name in red and black ink to the long list of former Cincinnati basketball standouts to earn selection by an NBA front office.
Robert Whaley, who was selected along with Illinois point guard Deron Williams ( no. 3) and Texas high schooler C.J. Miles (no. 34) by the Utah Jazz, spent one season under the tutelage of Bob Huggins before embarking on a trip to tiny Walsh College (NAIA) in North Canton, Ohio, where he helped bring home a NAIA Division II championship last season.. This past season Whaley averaged 19.9 points, 7.5 rebounds and just over two blocks per outing during his 35 game stint at the school.
During his one year stay manning the paint for the Bearcats, Whaley performed well in his 23 appearances. The 6-10 260-pound behemoth averaged 5.5 points and 2.3 rebounds in his sole season on the campus of Clifton.
Coach Huggins was instrumental in getting Whaley in contact with the Walsh athletic department/basketball program, as he too was drawn in by the lure of the tiny Ohio University. At 27-years old, Huggins was named Head Coach by Walsh College in 1980 and compiled a 71-26 record in three seasons, earning the NAIA District 22 Coach of the Year distinction twice and coaching the 1982-83 team to a perfect 30-0 regular season record and wound up with a 34-1 overall mark for the year.
However, Coach Huggins' aide came after one year that was marred by a slew of on- and off-court problems which helped put an early end to Whaley's UC career. After undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery, a surgery that Whaley did not recover from quickly, coach Huggins chided him for not returning to action sooner.
After laving the team for a spell in late February, Whaley returned to the Bearcat lineup to dress in UC's pair of NCAA Tournament games. However, with his basketball futur3e back in the swing of things, his academic life had caught a hitch in it. Due to his academic shortcoming, UC athletic director Bob Going informed the future NBA draft selection that he would never where a Bearcat uniform again.
Nicknamed Bob Rob because of his size, Whaley earned a chance to don the red
and black UC regalia because of his ability to combine that size with great
skill, making him a topnotch candidate for collegiate greatness. Seen as the
prototype of the modern center (big and athletic), Whaley's size enables him to
establish a presence in the lane at either end of the court. When mixed with his
cat-like quickness and ability to elevate, Whaley was a prospect college coaches
across the country salivated over. When mixed with his above-average hands and
his multi-faceted ability to score in around the basket, the UC coaching staff
had no choice but to make the now 22-year-old a top recruit for the 2004 season.
Whaley came to UC from Barton County CC (Kansas) where he averaged almost 17 points and just over seven rebounds per outing and was twice named NJCAA All-American (2002-2003) during his two year stay at the school.