Come Thursday night, Florida will have three lottery picks and most likely three guys chosen in the top ten of the NBA selection process. That number (3) will match Florida's top ten picks for their entire history to this point. Overall the Gators have had just six first round picks, four of whom played under Billy Donovan.
1969 Neal Walk ----- The second pick of the draft, Walk is unfairly lumped in there with Sam Bowie, Shawn Bradley, Len Bias and David Greenwood as disastrous number two guys. Yes, he was picked after Lou Alcindor (Kareem Abdul Jabbar), but Walk had a solid NBA career that was limited by injuries. His best season was 1972-73 when he averaged 20.2 points and 12.4 rebounds. He averaged a double-double the following season as well, posting numbers of 16.8 and 10.2. He finished his pro career with over 7,000 points and 4,000 rebounds.
1990 Dwayne Schintzius ----- After quitting the team his senior season, Schintzius had to know his draft stock had plummeted. However no one expected to see him last to San Antonio with the 24th pick. I remember the sad spectacle of watching him in the "green room" waiting to hear his name called. Schintzius didn't have much of an NBA career, playing for six teams over eight years in the nineties. He totaled 587 points and 536 rebounds.
1998 Jason Williams ----- "J-Will" spent just half a season with the Gators, but he still counts. The cat quick guard was the seventh pick of the draft by the Sacramento Kings and is putting together a pretty impressive NBA career. He's scored in double figures in eight of his nine seasons and this year passed the 7,000 point mark. He's also averaged better than six assist a game for his career and owns an NBA Championship ring.
2000 Mike Miller ----- Orlando won the coin toss for the fifth pick and chose Miller while Atlanta got DerMarr Johnson. Imagine how much better Lon Kruger's NBA coaching record would have been had they called "tails". Miller just had a career best season with Memphis, averaging 18.5 points and 5.4 rebounds. He just might have Al Horford as a teammate soon.
2000 Donnell Harvey ----- I doubt any player who turned pro early ever had a family living in the kind of party Harvey's family was in. He made the right decision as a man, but as a player he needed at least another year or two on the college level. The explosive jumper was chosen by the New York Knicks at number 20. But my beloved Knicks quickly traded him after realizing he was neither over the hill nor over paid. His best season came in 2002-03 when he averaged 7.9 points and 3.7 rebounds off the bench for the Denver Nuggets. At last report he was playing in Turkey.
2005 David Lee ----- The last pick of the draft, Lee has outperformed most of the guys chosen ahead of him. This past season Lee averaged 10.7 points and was eleventh in the NBA in rebounds with 10.4 a night. Lee suffered a lower leg injury that caused him to miss the final 24 games of the season. That played a major role in New York's late-season collapse.
So there you have it, six number one picks for the Florida Gators in 50 years. Thursday will be NBA draft # 51, and Florida will add at least three more to that list.