Game of Thrones (the TV version) has made a name for itself by having the wildest penultimate episodes on record each season. In season one, Ned Stark gets his heap lopped off, season two featured the Battle of the Blackwater and season three crushed the hopes and dreams of an entire generation with the Red Wedding.
Here at Down the Drive, we hope the second to last part of the Cincinnati Draft will leave you feeling much more upbeat, unless you're a Xavier fan. After all, the passion of the Crosstown Classic makes the Battle of the Blackwater look like a squirt gun fight.
Jason Maxiell, Demarr Johnson, Pete Mickael and Melvin Levett were taken last week. Let's find out who will join them, shall we?
With the 25th pick in the unlikely to be repeated Cincinnati Draft, the Memphis Grizzlies will take...
25. George Wilson
In doing this draft exercise, which amounts to a ranking of the top players in Cincinnati basketball history, there has been a littering of players from the 1961 and 1962 squads. You know, the teams that cut down the nets and won national titles. Wilson helped during the 1962 run, when the Bearcats went 29-2 and defeated Ohio State in the national championship. After 14 games, Wilson worked himself into the starting lineup as a freshman, and rubbed shoulders with Paul Hogue and Ron Bonham while averaging 9.2 points per game.
Wilson would go on to be a leader for the Bearcats and not just a complimentary piece, especially with his work on the boards and around the rim. He averaged 10.4 caroms per game during his college career and is tied for 11th all-time in rebounds in program history (888). As a junior he averaged 11.2 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game, while scoring 15. He improved in every aspect as a senior, setting career-highs in scoring (16.1 ppg), rebounds (12.5 rpg) and blocks (1.7 bpg). He earned second-team All-American honors from the Sporting News in 1963 and twice made his way onto the All-Missouri Valley first team.
He also played plenty of basketball outside of the Queen City. He was as a member of the Gold Medal winning 1964 U.S. Olympic team and played for a solid chunk of time in the NBA as a solid role player (5.4 ppg, 5.2 rpg). He would certainly have been a nice replacement off the bench for Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol down in Memphis.
Now on the clock are the San Antonio Spurs, who will select...
26. Connie Dierking
If you thought Wilson was a throw back then get ready for Dierking, who was dominating the court for Cincinnati in the 1950s. He owns the single-season record for rebounds in a season at Cincinnati (18.8 pg) as well as the single-game record (33). That's right, 33 rebounds! That's Wilt Chamberlain-type production. In his junior season, the year before Oscar Robertson came to campus, Dierking was the team's leading scorer (18.5 ppg), but he fit in just fine once the Big O was on the roster, taking a step back in scoring (15.8 ppg), while remaining an incredible force on the glass (14.9 ppg).
A second-team All-American choice by the Newspaper Enterprise Association and a first-team All-Missouri Valley Conference selection as a senior, Dierking was the first Bearcat ever taken in the first round of the NBA Draft, as he went No. 6 overall to the Syracuse Nationals. He enjoyed a solid career in the NBA, averaging 10 points and 6.7 rebounds per game with five teams, including the Philadelphia 76ers. With Dierking, LaMarcus Aldridge and Tim Duncan, the Spurs would have power forwards coming out of their ears.
And now it is time for the Lakers to make their second pick of the draft, which they will use on...
27. Justin Jackson
When Jackson blocked a shot, and he did it very often, he let you know it. If there was one thing the 2014 All-American Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year was known for other than his incredible defensive ability, it was the menacing stare that bored into opposing players and fans alike when he sent a ball into the second row.
But let's get back to that defense. Jackson's great physical attribute was his long arms, which he used to constantly put pressure on would-be-scorers in the paint. He swatted a total of 218 shots during his four years with Cincinnati, averaging a career-best 4.2 per game as a senior. In four years he had a defensive rating of 84.6, meaning he allowed just 84.6 points per 100 possessions. He also had a total of 9.3 defensive win shares, including an incredible 4.6 as a senior. Mick Cronin has become famous for creating a culture of defensive intensity and Jackson boldly embodied that philosophy, while letting his swagger drown out other teams.
Below you will find plenty of evidence. Like when he took 40 years off of Aaron Craft's life.
Or when he sent Jerome Seagears' layup into orbit.
Or when he peformed the ol' block-to-dunk combination with teammate Sean Kilpatrick.
Would love to be the fly on the wall for Lakers practice when Jackson swatted a Kobe fade away.
And now onto the 28th pick of the Cincinnati Draft, which belongs to the Boston Celtics, who select...
28. Yancy Gates
Cincinnati's version of Shaq, Gates made ROOM in the paint. Using his 260 pound, 6-foot-9 frame, he muscled his way to many a dunk, but he had the deft footwork and light touch to splash turnaround jump shots and pull off up and under moves. His consistency was also a valuable asset for the Bearcats. He never averaged less than 10 points or 5.9 rebounds per game in all four seasons, including his dominant senior campaign (2011-12) when he put up 12.2 points and 8.9 rebounds per contest.
That 2011-12 team was one of the most fun Bearcats squad there has ever been. Sure, there were the national title teams of the 60s, the Final Four units in the 90s and Kenyon Martin's team at the turn of the century, but there was something special about that 2012 squad, which stunned No. 3 seed Florida State and made it to the Sweet 16. With a roster that included Dion Dixon, Kilpatrick, Jackson and Gates you'd be hard pressed to pick an overall best player, but Gates is certainly in the conversation.
As far as all-time stats go, Gates ranks 15th all-time in scoring at Cincinnati (1,485), ahead of such Cincinnati greats as Hogue and Martin.
That wraps up this edition of the Cincinnati Draft. Tune in next week to see who the last four selections will be.