The Cincinnati Draft has passed the halfway mark, which means we get an extra super mushroom and don't have to start from the beginning of the level if we die. Wait a second, this isn't Super Mario World. My mistake.
There have been some phenomenally talented players that have already been picked off the board, with Tom Thacker, Herb Jones, Robert Miller and Ruben Patterson going 13th, 14th, 15th and 16th, respectively, in last week's episode. Cincinnati is a program with a long and storied past, so there is no need to start scraping the bottom of the barrel, looking for the best players in team history to join Club Trillion. In fact, one of the next four picks was an All-American, one was a two-time national champ and another was one of the most exciting freshman to ever don the red and black.
Now, with the 17th pick in the first (and probably last) ever Cincinnati Draft, the Milwaukee Bucks select...
17. LaZelle Durden
A lot of players are described as 3-point marksman. They are often said to "make it rain" from 3-point range. Well Durden didn't just make it rain, he made it torrential downpour. He knocked down 260 3-pointers in three seasons with the Bearcats and he was only a regular player for two of those. During the 1994-95 campaign, he drilled 127 triples, marking the second time he hit at least 100 3-pointers in a season. No other Bearcat had done it once prior to that. If the point hasn't already been beaten to death, consider this: Durden hit at least eight 3-pointers in a game six times in his career, including a game against Memphis in 1994 in which he knocked down nine.
Durden didn't just make a lot of shots, though. He also took a lot of shots. He holds the No. 1 and No. 2 spots in the Cincinnati record books for most 3-pointers attempted in a game, taking 20 against Wyoming during the 1994-95 season and twice putting up 17 the year before.
However, Durden didn't present much of a threat beyond his long range shooting. Although he averaged at least 17.8 points per game in each of his last two seasons, he only shot 42.1 percent from the field for his career. Still, Durden would have been a fine candidate to, as the immortal Vinnie Paz of Jedi Mind Tricks once said, "Buck like we Michael Redd."
18. Deonta Vaughn
One of the lucky few to spend his days clashing in the greatest basketball conference every conceived, Vaughn came to Cincinnati from Indiana, where he was a two-time all-state selection. His transition to the college level was a seamless one, as he averaged 14.5 points and 3.5 assists per game as a freshman. For that he was put on the Big East All-Rookie team. It was one of a number of league honors the 6-foot-1 guard would earn in his four years with the Bearcats. Most notable, he was a first-team selection as a sophomore, when he put together easily his best season. He set career-bests in points (17.3 ppg), 3-point shooting (.398) and win shares (4.7), while handing out 4.2 assists per game. It was also the only season Vaughn, who was never afraid to shoot, knocked down more than 40 percent of his shots from the floor.
The rub with Vaughn is that he never played for any particularly memorable Cincinnati teams. He came in for Mick Cronin's first season and was part of a group of guys who never made it to the NCAA Tournament or to the 20-win plateau, as Cronin was tasked with rebuilding the program back up from the powerhouse it had been under Bob Huggins. Still, Houston could do worse in looking for a backup point guard for Patrick Beverly.
Now that Vaughn is off the board, it is time for the Washington Wizards to make their choice.
19. Tony Yates
You would be hard pressed to find a player from Cincinnati with a more interesting road to the Bearcat roster. Born in Lawrenceburg, Indiana, he played his high school ball at Lockland Wayne High School in Cincy, where he won the state title in 1952. After graduating in 1954 he did not immediately enroll at Cincinnati, as he only received a partial scholarship from the Bearcats as well as Xavier. Instead of playing for either, he decided to join the Air Force, where he served until 1959.
Then, with five years in the military under his belt, Yates finally decided to return to basketball, as he accepted a partial scholarship from Cincinnati at the age of 22. A man with a number of nicknames, he was called 'Gramps' due to his advanced age compared to his teammates, but was also known as "my coach on the floor" to head coach Ed Jucker.
Yates was never much of a scorer, but he was an exceptional leader on the floor and a strong passer. He averaged 4.3 assists per game as a junior in 1961-62. His legend becomes even more impressive when you remember that he helped lead Cincinnati to back-to-back national titles and was a team captain and All-Missouri Valley Conference selection as a senior.
He was selected in the fifth round of the 1964 NBA Draft by the St. Louis Hawks, but was never able to get his professional career off the ground. Maybe things would have been different if he could have been part of a backcourt trio with John Wall and Bradley Beal.
It is now the Toronto Raptors turn to make a selection. They will go with...
20. Dontonio Wingfield
For one glorious season, Wingfield wowed folks all across the greater Cincinnati area. He was a highly touted recruit, who went to four-straight state championships with Westover High School and earned McDonald's All-American honors. His recruiting class included Jerry Stackhouse and Rasheed Wallace and he was just as, if not more, desired by college programs as those two.
Obviously, there was a great deal of hype surrounding the 6-foot-8 forward from Georgia when he came to Cincinnati and he largely lived up to it. In fact, in his first game in a Cincinnati uniform he scored 30 points, breaking a record set by Oscar Robertson for most points scored in a freshman debut with the Bearcats. Here's the video to prove it.
If you're breaking records the Big O set, then you have to be doing something right. For the most part, Wingfield did. He averaged 16 points and nine rebounds per game, and was a scoring threat from everywhere on the floor, including from beyond the arc.
However, he clashed far too frequently with head coach Bob Huggins and decided to enter the draft after just one season. He was chosen in the second round by the Seattle SuperSonics, but was out of the league just four years later. Interestingly enough, that brief stint in the NBA featured a run-in with the Raptors, as he was selected by Toronto in the 1995 expansion draft, before being waived prior to the season.
That is it for this week. There are only 10 more picks to be made in the Cincinnati Draft and players like Jason Maxiell, Yancy Gates and Eric Hicks are still floating out there. Tune in next week to find out where they may or may not go.