Before we get to this week's picks, let's reexamine those made a week ago. Oscar Robertson, he of the triple-double season, was an easy choice at No. 1. After all, he is not only the greatest basketball player in Cincinnati history, he may just be the greatest player in college basketball history. After Robertson, 2000 National Player of the Year Kenyon Martin was scooped up, bringing his insane shot blocking ability to the party. At pick No. 3, Danny Fortson was the choice, as his strong scoring numbers elevated over other prospects. Finally, with the fourth pick, Sean Kilpatrick had his named called. Alright, written if you want to get technical.
There are still plenty of fantastic Bearcats to choose from, so let's not delay anymore. With the fifth pick in the inaugural Cincinnati Draft, the Orlando Magic select...
5. Nick Van Exel
For some of my generation, Van Exel will always be the diminutive yet excellent backup point guard for the Lakers and Nuggets. More notably, at least for some (read: me), was his role in the phenomenal basketball simulation experience for the Nintendo 64 known as NBA Courtside. Along with Mookie Blaylock and Tom Gugliotta, Van Exel was one of the most memorable players from that game, at least for this writer.
But before I digress too much, let's talk about why Van Exel is the fifth pick. The 6-foot-1 guard was part of the stupendous 1992 team that made it to the Final Four, marking the first and only time since 1963 the Bearcats have gotten so far in the NCAA Tournament. He did not receive the same type of national recognition as those above him, making the All-American third-team in 1993, but he averaged an impressive 18.3 points and 4.5 assists per game in that campaign. He may not have been as highly touted at the national level (although third-team All-American is nothing to sneeze at), but he did earn first-team honors in the Great Midwest Conference, one of a litany of now defunct college leagues. Unfortunately, his career was a brief one, as he only player two seasons in Cincinnati, but he remains one of the best Bearcats ever and one that would certainly teach Elfrid Payton and Victor Oladipo a thing or two.
Now, with the sixth pick, the Sacramento Kings will take...
6. Paul Hogue
In the early 1960s, the Bearcats were one of the most dominant programs in the country. Imagine them as the Kentucky of their generation. A team filled with NBA-ready players, that consistently won championships. OK, so maybe not just like Kentucky. Hogue was a cornerstone of those teams, including the 1961 and 1962 NCAA champion squads. The 1962 season was Hogue's biggest year with the Bearcats, as he was named Player of the Year by the Helms Foundation and was chosen as a first-team All-American by the Basketball Writers. He averaged 16.8 points and 12.4 rebounds per game in that season, but he was even better come tournament time.
He put up 24 and 19 against Creighton, then had 22 and 12 in a 73-46 bashing of Colorado in the Elite Eight. In the first leg of the Final Four, Hogue and company faced John Wooden and the UCLA Bruins. Although he received help from Ron Bonham and Tony Yates (more on them later), Hogue all but carried Cincinnati to victory, scoring 36 points and grabbing 19 of the team's 33 rebounds in a 72-70 victory. He put the finishing touches on his senior victory tour with a 22-point, 19-rebound effort in the National Championship game against John Havlicek and the Ohio State Buckeyes. If he and DeMarcus Cousins played on the same team, there wouldn't be a better frontcourt in the known universe.
The Denver Nuggets are now on the clock. Oh wait, there is no clock. Denver selects...
7. Steve Logan
One of the crown jewels of the Bob Huggins era, Logan showed just how much a player can grow by staying in school for four years. The 5-foot-10 guard increased his scoring, assists and rebounding numbers each year of his college career. He went from an 8.9 points per game scorer as a freshman to a 22-point machine as a senior. He also dished out 5.3 assists and grabbed 3.1 rebounds per game in his final season on campus, while shooting 37.4 percent from 3-point range and 51.9 percent from inside the arc. He also set career highs in true shooting percentage (.599) and effective field goal percentage (.537) during that 2001-02 season. He was rewarded for his efforts by being named a consensus first-team All-American, while capturing his second straight Conference USA Player of the Year Trophy. He finished off his time at Cincinnati as the second best scorer in team history, although he has since dropped to third behind Kilpatrick.
Logan's career was not just marked by statistical improvement. It also came with a large heaping of victories. The Bearcats went 112-24 during his four seasons, won the Conference USA regular season title in each campaign and claimed the conference's tournament crown in his senior season.
Unfortunately, his pro career never took off. He was the first pick of the second round in the 2002 NBA Draft, or the last pick of the first round if you ask some people. He never played in the NBA, but did compete overseas from 2005-2007 before hanging up his sneakers for good. If only we had a time machine and could plug him in at point guard for the Nuggets, giving them room to trade Ty Lawson for more assets.
On to the eighth pick, which belongs to the Detroit Pistons, who will take...
8. Ron Bonham
It was a quick rise to success for Bonham, who was a freshman for Cincinnati in 1961, although he did not play, and a key player on the 1962 squad. So two years into his career and he already had two national title rings. That is not too shabby. Bonham became the center of attention in 1962-63, when he averaged 21 points per game and was a consensus All-American for a 26-2 Cincinnati team, which came a game shy of winning a third straight national championship. He averaged 20.5 points per game in the NCAA Tournament, including a 22-point showing across 45 minutes in the 60-58 overtime loss to Loyola (Illinois) in the final.
While the Bearcats fell back to earth in 1963, going just 17-9, which ended a six-year streak in the NCAA Tournament, Bonham had his best season. He averaged a career-high 24.4 points per game and shot 51.6 percent from the floor, easily eclipsing his previous best set the year before (.463). That got the attention of Red Auerbach and the Boston Celtics, who drafted him in the second round of the 1964 NBA Draft. Like his college career, he got a taste of the big time early as a pro, winning NBA titles with the Celtics in 1965 and 1966 while playing with legends like Bill Russell, K.C. Jones and Havlicek. With his ability to bring titles early on, the Pistons may have a steal on their hands. But Bonham never became a regular in the NBA. He was out of the league for the 1966-67 season and played his last year of professional ball in 1968 with the Indiana Pacers of the ABA.
Well that wraps up this week's installment of the Cincinnati Draft. Think these picks were better than last week's? Worse? The same? Sound off in the comments and let us know. Tune in next week for the next round of picks and make sure to read up on Ian Happ, a Bearcat who actually got drafted this week.