Eleven BIG EAST Players Taken In NBA Draft

College basketball fans were not the only group that recognized the extraordinary level of play in the BIG EAST Conference this past season. The National Basketball Association held its annual draft on June 28 and 11 BIG EAST standouts were selected. The total was more than any other conference. The draft was held in the Theatre in Madison Square Garden in New York.

Not only did the BIG EAST lead all conferences in representation in the two-round, 60-pick draft. The 11 BIG EAST draftees were among the top 40 selections. The league had seven players taken in the first round, which is also a conference record. The previous first-round high was six in 1996. In addition, the 11 selections this year is a BIG EAST mark since the NBA Draft was reduced to two rounds in 1988.

Villanova's Randy Foye, the BIG EAST Player of the Year, was the first to go, tabbed seventh overall by the Boston Celtics. Foye was immediately part of a trade frenzy that included five of the top 10 picks. The former Wildcat guard was dealt twice and landed with the Minnesota Timberwolves.

With the eighth pick, the Houston Rockets took Connecticut's Rudy Gay, then traded him to the Memphis Grizzlies. Gay was the first of four first-round picks for the Huskies, which tied an NBA Draft record. The other first-round UConn players were center Hilton Armstrong (12th-New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets), guard Marcus Williams (22nd-New Jersey Nets) and forward/center Josh Boone (23rd-New Jersey Nets).

Quincy Douby of Rutgers, the BIG EAST's 2005-06 scoring champion, went 19th to the Sacramento Kings. It was the first time since 1983 that Rutgers had a first-round selection.

Immediately after the Nets tabbed Marcus Williams and Josh Boone, the Memphis Grizzlies grabbed Villanova guard Kyle Lowry in the 23rd slot. Lowry will be a teammate of Gay.

BIG EAST players also went in the first three selections of the second round. The Portland Trail Blazers took Cincinnati's James White with the 31st overall selection then sent him to the Indiana Pacers. The Houston Rockets made Marquette's Steve Novak the 32nd selection. The Atlanta Hawks chose USF's Solomon Jones 33rd.

The final BIG EAST player selected was UConn's Denham Brown who was taken with the 40th pick by the Seattle Supersonics. The five Connecticut draft selections give the Husky program 26 all-time BIG EAST picks which ties Syracuse for the league lead.

Below are the 11 BIG EAST players selected in the 2006 NBA Draft:


Round     Pick         Player, School                            Team

First         7th            Randy Foye, Villanova                    Boston Celtics (traded to Minnesota Timberwolves via Portland )

First         8th            Rudy Gay , Connecticut                    Houston Rockets (traded to Memphis Grizzlies)

First         12th          Hilton Armstrong , Connecticut          New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets

First         19th          Quincy Douby, Rutgers                   Sacramento Kings

First         22nd          Marcus Williams, Connecticut          New Jersey Nets

First         23rd          Josh Boone , Connecticut                  New Jersey Nets

First         24th          Kyle Lowry, Villanova                     Memphis Grizzlies

Second     31st          James White, Cincinnati                 Portland Trail Blazers (traded to Indiana Pacers)

Second     32nd          Steve Novak, Marquette                  Houston Rockets

Second     33rd          Solomon Jones, USF                      Atlanta Hawks

Second     40th          Denham Brown, Connecticut            Seattle Supersonics



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