Nick Johnson and Aaron Gordon may be off early to the NBA, but a year from now they might still benefit the Arizona Wildcats.
Especially if they can get in the NBA playoffs, elevating exposure for themselves and the Wildcats.
“You’re gonna watch Andre Iguodala play in the NBA playoffs, and Solomon Hill could win the NBA championship with the Pacers,” UA coach Sean Miller said last week, after Johnson and Gordon announced they would leave the Wildcats. “All of that is in the big picture … If you do it right by those guys, they may leave early, but they’re going to have far more of an impact if they are successful.”
Arizona isn’t well-represented in the NBA playoffs this year. The Wildcats have three players on playoff rosters this season, but only Golden State’s Iguodala is playing a key role.
Hill is a rookie reserve for the Pacers, having played in only 28 games this season, while fellow rookie Grant Jerrett is on Oklahoma City’s roster after a call-up from the D-League’s Tulsa 66ers on April 7 but has not yet played in an NBA game.
Arizona has 11 former players in the NBA this season, including Detroit guard Will Bynum, who finished his college career at Georgia Tech. Here’s a look at how their seasons went:
Boston Celtics guard
Years at UA: 2007-08
Season stats: 72 games, 9.3 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 2.7 apg
Salary: $3.14 million
What happened: Just six years in the league, and Bayless has already played for five teams. He opened the season with Memphis but was shipped to Boston in a three-way deal on Jan. 7. Bayless’ numbers were slipping at Memphis, but he gained another four minutes a game with the Celtics, averaging 10.1 points over 25.2 minutes since the trade.
He said it: “I wish I could lie and say it’s easy, but I don’t have any complaints. What is good about being able to move around — I’m trying to find a positive in a negative — is you get to learn about different cities and different cultures in cities. I went from Toronto to Memphis, and to see how these cities move and how they go about, it’s been an amazing experience.” — To Boston’s 98.5 FM The Sports Hub.
Minnesota Timberwolves forward
Years at UA: 2006-07 to 2008-09
Season stats: 41 games, 6.7 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 0.8 apg
Salary: $5 million
What happened: After missing most of the 2012-13 season with a torn meniscus in his left knee, Budinger landed a three-year contract worth $15 million — and then went down again in the preseason with more knee issues. He returned on Jan 8 and played the rest of the season but has yet to regain his full effectiveness.
He said it: “It’s a grind coming off an injury, a double injury. And trying to come back midseason, it’s very challenging, very grueling on my body. ... Mentally, offensively, I’m getting the shots I like, all the shots I’ve made throughout my career, and I’m missing ’em. It’s just frustrating.” — to the Minneapolis Star Tribune
Detroit Pistons guard
Years at UA: 2001-02 to midseason 2002-03
Season stats: 56 games, 8.7 ppg, 1.8 rpg, 3.9 apg , 1.8 to
Salary: $2.79 million
What happened: The Pistons had a point guard platoon of (barely) former Wildcats: Bynum, who transferred as a sophomore in 2003 to Georgia Tech, and Brandon Jennings, who signed with the Wildcats but opted instead to play in Italy. Bynum came off the bench but earned the trust of Pistons interim coach John Loyer.
He said it: “When you have two guards out there that can penetrate, get into the paint, find each other and that can run the team, it just makes it difficult to guard — especially in the fourth quarter, because you need more than one ballhandler” – to MLive.com
Phoenix Suns center
Years at UA: 2001-02 to 2004-05
Season stats: 82 games, 11.1 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 1.2 apg
Salary: $6.4 million
What happened: There’s no Comeback Player of the Year award in the NBA anymore, but if there was, Frye would be a no-brainer to win it. He came back strongly after missing all of the 2012-13 season because of an enlarged heart that was caused by a virus.
He said it: “I’m just taking it easy, embracing and appreciating everything, soaking it all in. I mean, I wasn’t even sure that I was going to make it back to the team, for training camp or even at all. Now I’m part of a team that’s playing great basketball, and playing basketball the right way, and I’m loving it.” — to Slam Online
Los Angeles Lakers forward
Years at UA: 2006-07 to 2008-09
Season stats: 72 games, 9.7 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 0.8 apg
Salary: $3.5 million
What happened: During his second full season in L.A., Hill started 32 of 73 games and averaged a career-high 9.7 points and 7.4 rebounds.
He said it: “I’ve been in the league for a few years and I’ve grown up and matured. I know that I can help a team out. I have to be optimistic. I’ve been dealing with struggles since I was young and have gotten used to it. I can’t do nothing but keep going on.” – to LA Weekly
Indiana Pacers forward
Years at UA: 2009-10 to 2012-13
Season stats: 28 games, 1.7 ppg, 1.5 ppg, 0.4 apg
Salary: $1.25 million
What happened: Not only did Hill land unexpectedly in the first round of last year’s NBA draft, but he also was taken by one of the best teams in the NBA. The problem with that was that he was hardly needed. Hill rode the bench most of the season and was assigned to the D-League for a two-game stint.
He said it: “It would be great to be out there playing basketball and clocking big minutes. … Patience is everything here. I’m just happy to be out here with these guys.” – to Arizonasports.com
Golden State Warriors forward
Years at UA: 2002-03 to 2003-04
Season stats: 63 games, 9.3 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 4.2 apg
Salary: $12.9 million
What happened: Iguodala went to Golden State in a sign-and-trade deal last summer and, while his numbers decreased, has been a key defensive force for the Warriors.
He said it: “I had a lot of perfect games defensively. ... Not a bad year, not a great year, but really solid for our team.” – to the Bay Area News Group
Utah Jazz forward
Years at UA: 1998-99 to 2000-01
Season stats: 82 games, 10.1 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 1.6 apg
Salary: $11.0 million
What happened: After a miserable, injury plagued season at Golden State in 2012-13, Jefferson revived himself in Salt Lake City. He played in all 82 games and will be an unrestricted free agent in July.
He said it: “I really enjoyed my time here — the fans here have been amazing. Obviously if I was going to continue in a rebuilding process, this would probably be my No. 1 choice…. When you get to be almost 34 years old, you do want to play in the playoffs.” – to the Deseret News
Oklahoma City Thunder forward
Years at UA: 2012-13
Season stats: No games played
What happened: A second-round draft pick last June after leaving UA as a freshman, Jerrett played for Oklahoma City’s D-League affiliate in Tulsa. There, he averaged 15.1 points and 6.1 rebounds per game while shooting 36.4 percent from three-point range and was called up to Oklahoma City on April 7.
He said it: ”I felt I just had to do what was best for me to reach my ultimate goal, which is to play in the NBA. I had thoughts of playing in the D-League or overseas to get where I wanted to be. There are steps you have to take and I’m willing to take them.” – To TulsaPeople.com
Sacramento Kings guard
Years at UA: 1995-96 to 1998-99
Season stats: 35 games, 4.5 ppg, 1.1 rpg 1.6 apg
Salary: $5.22 million
What happened: Terry’s knee bothered him with Brooklyn early in the season . And when he was dealt to Sacramento in February, the Kings said he would spend the rest of the season rehabilitating the knee. That suggests the veteran guard, who has a year left on his contract, will make a last run in the NBA next season — probably somewhere other than Sacramento.
He said it: “I want to thank the Kings for their understanding during this process. ... I’m confident that rehab presents the best opportunity to be ready for next season.” –in a Kings statement
Sacramento Kings forward
Years at UA: 2009-10 to 2010-11
Season stats: 78 games, 8.0 ppg, 4.1 rpg
Salary: $5.29 million
What happened: After being the subject of trade rumors ever since Minnesota picked him No. 2 overall in 2011 — and never really finding a position with the Timberwolves — Williams was finally shipped to Sacramento in November. His scoring shot up from 4.9 points per game to 8.5 with the Kings.
He said it: “I would probably say I’m a little bit behind (developmentally) just because I really haven’t gotten the opportunity to get out there and play. I’ve seen some guys on other teams that got drafted top 5 that play 40 minutes a game whether they’re playing good or bad.” — to the Los Angeles Times