Not a single player from Cincinnati was taken in the NBA Draft on Thursday. But that isn't a surprise. The Bearcats are loaded with young talent and Mick Cronin didn't have to say goodbye to many of his star players this offseason. A year from now? Sure. When Octavius Ellis and maybe Troy Caupain are in the mix, the Bearcats will have some real pro prospects.
For now, the Cincinnati Draft will keep on rolling. And who knows, next year at this time, Ellis and Caupain may have a case to be a part of the elite company that already includes Oscar Robertson, Nick Van Exel and, from last week's episode, Jim Ard.
Without further ado, the Phoenix Suns will use the 13th overall pick of the Cincinnati Draft to select...
13. Tom Thacker
Can I interest you in some Final Four appearances? I can? Well then you are in the right place because Thacker knows a whole lot about making to the Final Four. But wait, perhaps you have even more expensive taste and only want National Championships? Well fear not, because Thacker has a pair of those as well. The 6-foot-2 guard/forward was part of the greatest five-year run in Cincinnati history, heck, perhaps college basketball history. The Bearcats made it to the Final Four in five straight seasons, including each of Thacker's three seasons as an active player with the team. They won the national title in his sophomore and junior seasons and fell just a game short of making it three-straight crowns in his senior year. So, putting it simply, Thacker knows how to win.
He was never a scorer like teammates Paul Hogue and Ron Bonham, but he was the team's best ball handler and point guard. He finished his career with 1,152 points (12.9 ppg), including a career-best 15.8 ppg in his final season. He scored 21 points, sinking 9-of-11 from the free throw line in Cincinati's 71-59 win over Ohio State in the 1962 NCAA Championship. That came a year after he posted 17 points and seven rebounds in a 70-65 victory over the Buckeyes on the same stage.
The Suns selected Devin Booker on Thursday, but if time travel was possible, getting Thacker, a two-time All-Missouri Valley selection and 1968 NBA Champion, would be an even bigger addition.
Now, with the 14th pick in the Cincinnati Draft, the Oklahoma City Thunder choose...
14. Herb Jones
Unfortunately, Jones never made it in the NBA, but he had a long run overseas, playing for 14 different teams internationally from 1992-2006. It really is too bad considering the senior season Jones had with the Bearcats. Van Exel gets all the shine in retrospect, but Jones was a first-team All-Great Midwest player in 1992, the year the Bearcats got back to the Final Four. He led the Bearcats in scoring (18.2 ppg) and rebounds (7.1 ppg) that year and finished off with excellent numbers in both categories for his career (17.2 ppg and 7.5 rpg).
In the NCAA Tournament, he lifted the Bearcats on his back and carried them in an 88-57 trouncing of Memphis in the Midwest Regional Final, scoring 23 points and ripping down 13 rebounds, five on the offensive end. Although he was slowed in the Final Four against Chris Webber and the rest of the Michigan Fab Five, scoring 14 points to go with five boards, there is no denying he was a force for good, at least if you were/are a Bearcat fan. A frontcourt of Jones, Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka would have athleticism on top of athleticism on top of more athleticism.
With Jones off the board, it is now time for the Atlanta Hawks to make their selection.
15. Robert Miller
Miller didn't have the longest of NBA careers, playing six seasons after being taken in the fourth round of the 1978 NBA Draft by Phoenix. That doesn't stop him from being the 15th player selected in this draft. Miler played with Pat Cummings in the mid to late 1970s, and was one of the better players for those squads. He averaged 13.3 points per game during the 1977-78 season and also cleaned the glass at a solid rate, pulling in a team-high 229 rebounds overall, good for an average of 8.5 per night. He was an honorable mention All-American that season and named to the All-Metro second-team, his second straight year with the honor.
Unfortunately, Miller's career cannot be fully appreciated on a stats page, as he was an excellent defender. It remains a travesty that we will never know just how many blocks he, and players like him, may have had since the statistic was not measured in college until 1985.
We've now come to the last pick this week, which belongs to the Boston Celtics.
16. Ruben Patterson
In two short years, Patterson, a 6-foot-5 forward from Cleveland, made quite an impression on a city on the other side of his home state. After playing in junior college, Patterson came to Cincy in 1996 and he started making an impact immediately. He scored 13.7 points per game in his first season and became an extremely versatile part of the 1997-98 squad, putting up 16.5 points, 6.3 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.2 steals per game. However, there was a bit of darkness hanging over that campaign, as Patterson played in only 19 contests after serving a half-season suspension for violating NCAA rules on extra benefits.
Even with only 19 games in his pocket, Patterson still got his way onto the Conference USA second-team. There was also the incredible inspiration he provided when he scored 32 points against UAB just days after his mother passed away.
"We needed to win this game, and I wanted to play well for my mom," Patterson told the Cincinnati Enquirer after that contest. It remains one of the most emotional performances by a Bearcat in program history.
Patterson bounced around the NBA after college. He was drafted with the 31st pick of the second round by the Lakers in the 1998 NBA Draft and ended up playing for six teams from 1999-2007.
We are now more than halfway through the Cincinnati Draft. Tune in next week for picks 17-20.