UNR teammates are reunited in the NBA
Luke Babbitt and Armon Johnson will again be teammates. This time it will be at the next level.
The University of Nevada teammates who left school early will soon don the NBA jersey of the Portland Trail Blazers.
Babbitt, a Galena High standout, was drafted No. 16 overall to the Minnesota Timberwolves. However, Babbitt was quickly traded to the Trail Blazers. The Timberwolves will get Martell Webster in the trade.
Johnson, a point guard, was taken in the second round at 34 overall.
Adding Babbitt, a two-time Western Athletic Conference player of the year, will allow the Blazers a shooter to spread the floor for LaMarcus Aldridge and Brandon Roy.
As a sophomore, the 6-foot-7, 215-pound forward averaged 21.9 points and 8.9 rebounds for the Wolf Pack.
Babbitt, an honorable-mention All-American by the Associated Press this year, is 12th on Nevada career scoring list with 1,316 points.
He broke the school single-season scoring record in 2009-’10 and also was an Academic All-American.
Going 16th overall ties Kirk Snyder for the highest draft pick ever by a Nevada player. Snyder was taken 16th by the Utah Jazz in 2004.
Adding Johnson will give Portland some depth at the point guard position. Andre Miller starts for the Trail Blazers and played 30 minutes a game. The 34-year-old signed a three-year deal in summer 2009. The Trail Blazers other point guard on the roster is Patty Mills, who was a rookie last year. He broke his right foot in the NBA summer league and didn’t make his NBA debut until January.
Johnson, a Hug High standout and the 2008 WAC Freshman of the Year, started 99 of 101 career games at Nevada. He became just the sixth player in school history to turn in at least 1,000 points and 250 career assists. His 445 assists puts him fourth in Nevada’s career list. He is ninth at Nevada with 1,441 points.
Johnson averaged 15.7 points, 3.4 rebounds and 5.6 assists with the Wolf Pack last season as a junior.
It was the second time in the last five years that Nevada has had two players selected. Four years ago, Nick Fazekas and Ramon Sessions both went in the same draft.
John Wall is heading to Washington, and a record number of Kentucky teammates are following him to the NBA.
Wall went to the Wizards with the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft Thursday and four more Wildcats were among the top 30 selections, making them the first school ever to put five players in the first round.
After falling short of the Final Four even with all that talent around him, Wall is ready to help Washington bounce back from a season that was embarrassing on the court and in the locker room.
“I feel like I had pressure since I became No. 1 in high school and was one of the top players,” Wall said. “I always got there hungry wanting to fight hard and compete in every game, so when I step on the court I’m going to take on any challenge there.”
The SEC player of the year is the first Kentucky player chosen first overall. He goes to a team still reeling from Gilbert Arenas’ season-ending suspension for bringing guns into the team locker room.
Wall could replace Arenas as the Wizards’ point guard, or perhaps play alongside him in a potential high-scoring backcourt. He’ll try to become the third straight freshman point guard to win Rookie of the Year honors after Chicago’s Derrick Rose and Sacramento’s Tyreke Evans – who like Wall also played for John Calipari.
The pick came shortly after a person familiar with the deal told The Associated Press that the Chicago Bulls had agreed to trade veteran guard Kirk Hinrich and the 17th pick in the draft, Kevin Seraphin, to the Wizards. Hinrich is a solid veteran defensive guard who could help with Wall’s transition to the NBA.
After his name was announced to begin the draft, Wall hugged family members and donned a blue Wizards cap before climbing onto the stage to shake commissioner David Stern’s hand.