Al Horford was the first to have his name called out when he was selected by the Atlanta Hawks as the No. 3 pick overall. Horford leaves Florida as one of the most prolific forwards in Gator history. He ranks second all-time at UF with 189 blocked shots and ranks seventh overall with 864 rebounds. He was named Most Valuable Player of the Gators' 2007 SEC Tournament Championship and made the NCAA All-Tournament team in both 2006 and 2007. Horford averaged double-doubles in both championship seasons and posted the highest rebounds per game average (9.5) by a Gator in the last 17 years.
Horford joins a Hawks team that finished the 2006-07 season 22 games below .500. Atlanta finished 10 games behind the Orlando Magic for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
Corey Brewer was the second Gator selected, picked up by the Minnesota Timberwolves as the No. 7 overall pick. Brewer was named the Most Outstanding Player of the 2007 Final Four after averaging 16 points and 10 rebounds. Brewer does it on both ends of the court and set a school record after recording 69 steals last season. He also owns the only triple-double in Gator history. Brewer's 1,225 points led the ‘04s.
The Timberwolves are a franchise with some questions. Their star player Kevin Garnett has heard his name come up in trade talks during the last week or so. Minnesota finished the 2006-07 season at 32-49, which was 9-1/2 games behind the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Joakim Noah finished the trifecta when he was selected No. 9 overall by the Chicago Bulls. Noah exploded onto the scene during the 2005-06 season, leading the Gators to the national championship and earning Most Outstanding Player honors at the '06 Final Four. After playing just two minutes in the 2005 tournament, Noah averaged 16.2 points and 9.5 rebounds in the Gators' first title run. He also set an NCAA record, blocking 29 shots in the '05 tourney. Noah finished his Gator career making 77 percent of his shots in NCAA Tournament games.
Noah could become the final piece of a Bulls team that is on the rise. Chicago swept the defending NBA Champs, the Miami Heat, in this year's playoffs before losing to the Detroit Pistons in the second round. The Bulls have a young roster, featuring several players with Final Four experience including LSU's Tyrus Thomas.
"These players were fortunate enough to be a part of two National Championships, and now have the opportunity to continue their careers at the next level," head coach Billy Donovan said. "I'm so happy for, and proud of, this group, as they continue to make history. Their selections tonight are a true testament of how hard they've worked."
"To have three players selected in the first nine picks of the NBA draft is truly incredible. It's a great day for basketball at the University of Florida and for basketball in the state of Florida."
FightinGators.com pre-draft coverage: