Dekker Goes 18th to Houston

Choosing to skip his senior year to follow his NBA dreams, Sam Dekker saw the decision pay off Saturday when he was selected by the Houston Rockets with the 18th pick in the 2015 NBA draft, giving Wisconsin two first-round picks for the first time in draft history.

Sam Dekker had to wait nine picks longer then his former teammate Frank Kaminsky but was able to complete the historic night for Wisconsin when he was selected by Houston with the 18th pick.

The selection of Dekker in the first round marks the first time in Wisconsin basketball history where Wisconsin had two players drafted in the first round in the same year. It is also the first time where Wisconsin has had at least two players drafted in the same year since 1995 when Michael Finley went in the first round and Rashard Griffith went in the second round.

“I feel like just waiting (was the hardest part) because you feel like you deserve to be up there,” said Dekker. “I am completely grateful. I am so excited to be a part of the Houston Rockets. There’s no words to really describe drafted. I’m just trying to enjoy it now and have a smile on my face.”

Dekker didn’t work out for the Rockets (only working out for the teams selecting in the lottery), but he is landing in a good situation with the runners up in the Western Conference Finals this past season.

"I'm going to a playoff team," said Dekker. "Patience has paid off. (It's a) great spot."

Dekker’s projection in the first round was all over the board – being slotted as high as No.8 to as low as No.20. The main concern centering Dekker by most NBA executives and scouts was his consistency shooting from the perimeter. While the 3-point shot was up and down during his three year Wisconsin career, Dekker showed that he is capable of making them during Wisconsin’s run to the national championship game. In six NCAA tournament games, Dekker averaged 19.1 points a game, shot 57.1 percent from the field and shot 41.6 percent from 3-point range, numbers that helped him win the West Region’s Most Outstanding Player award.

Outside of the impressive run by Dekker in the NCAA tournament, Dekker overcame a slow start to the season due to an ankle injury to finish his season second in scoring (13.9 ppg), third in rebounds (5.5) and second in team field goal percentage (52.5 percent). With Houston being an up-tempo team, Dekker should be able to find a role on the Rockets with his ability to thrive in freestyle play.

Dekker won’t be pressed to start right away for Houston, as he will battle with Kostas Papanikolaou to back up starter Trevor Ariza. Papanikolaou appeared in 43 games last season while averaging 4.2 points a game.

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