BOULDER – Andre Roberson’s decision to leave the Colorado basketball program a year early for the 2013 NBA Draft was widely questioned, but on Thursday night his choice appeared sound.
Projected as a second-round selection by most NBA analysts, Roberson was a surprise first-round pick by Minnesota at No. 26. The 6-7 forward then was dealt to Oklahoma City, which traded up to land Roberson via deals with Memphis, Houston, Minnesota and Golden State.
A sample of Roberson’s April positioning among the Top 100 draft prospects: ESPN.com – 54th overall; CBSSports.com – 54th overall; DraftExpress.com – 57th overall; HoopsWorld.com – 57th overall.
When Roberson’s name was called by out-going NBA Commissioner David Stern, CU coach Tad Boyle texted this message to Roberson: “What the hell do I know? Congratulations.”
Roberson, who finished the 2012-13 season as the nation’s No. 2 rebounder, was in Brooklyn with his family for the draft. He became the fourth Buffs basketball player taken in the first round since 1997 and the eighth overall to go in the first round. CU has had 32 men’s basketball players drafted.
Preceding Roberson as CU first-rounders since ’97 were Chauncey Billups, No. 3 in ’97 by Boston; David Harrison, No. 29 in 2004 by Indiana; and Alec Burks, No. 12 in 2011 by Utah.
Since the NBA lottery first began in 1985, Burks (2009-2011) and Billups (1995-97) are the school’s only two lottery picks. Billups and Burks were both sophomores when they declared for the NBA Draft.
Boyle had supported whatever decision Roberson and family would make concerning Roberson’s future, but he wanted the decision made wisely. Said Boyle at a season wrap-up media conference in April: “At the end of the day, there are no guarantees – unless you’re a first-round draft pick.”
Ironically, Roberson was – and Thursday night Boyle was ecstatic.
“It absolutely surprises me, but I’m so proud of him,” Boyle said. In addition to the guaranteed first-round money Roberson will collect, Boyle called Roberson’s first-round selection “good for our program and our fans – everyone wins.”
After making his decision to leave school and declare himself eligible for the draft, Roberson returned to his family’s home in San Antonio and laid low. He declined pre-draft interview requests from CUBuffs.com and did not return messages left on Thursday night.
“It’s been so quiet and Andre wanted it that way,” Boyle said. “He went back to San Antonio and worked hard. I did say on the record that (Roberson’s NBA value) would be rebounding and defense – and if somebody appreciates that, then he’s your guy.”
Roberson left CU with most of the school’s rebounding records within his reach. Had he stayed, he likely would have put some of those marks out of reach for any future Buff.
Odds heavily favored Roberson becoming CU’s top career rebounder in the first game of what would have been his senior year; he needed 10 rebounds, which would have given him 1,055 – one more than Stephane Pelle (1999-03) – with the remainder of his final season ahead of him.
Nonetheless, in three seasons Roberson left an indelible mark. He was the only CU player with 1,000 points (1,012) and rebounds (1,045), 150 blocks (150) and steals (164), and 100 assists (119). He also was the first Buffs player to lead the team in rebounding, blocked shots and steals for three consecutive seasons.
At the team’s annual post-season banquet, Roberson was presented the Stephane Pelle Rebounding Award and earned the Best Defensive Player Award as voted by his teammates. He also was selected as the Pac-12 Conference’s Defensive Player of The Year and was a first-team all-conference pick.
In the Buffs’ school-record third consecutive 20-win season (21-12, 10-8 Pac-12 Conference), Roberson became the first CU player in 22 years to average a double-double (10.9 ppg, 11.2 rpg) in consecutive years. He finished second nationally in rebounding and he leaves CU with a career average just shy of a double-double – 9.6 points, 10.0 rebounds.
Roberson joins a young Oklahoma City team featuring Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. The Thunder finished 60-22 and won the Western Division last season, but minus the injured Westbrook (knee) was eliminated from the playoffs by Memphis.
With their first first-round selection (No. 12) Thursday night, the Thunder selected 7-0 Pittsburgh center Steven Adams.
COLORADO PLAYERS DRAFTED PROFESSIONALLY
*Scott Wedman, No. 2 overall Memphis/ABA, 1974
Chauncey Billups, No. 3 overall Boston/NBA, 1997
*Scott Wedman, No. 6 overall KC-Omaha/NBA, 1974
*Cliff Meely, No. 7 overall San Diego Clippers/NBA, 1971
Alec Burks, No. 12 overall Utah Jazz/NBA, 2011
Jay Humphries, No. 13 overall Phoenix/NBA, 1984
Shaun Vandiver, No. 25 overall Golden State/NBA, 1991
Pat Frink, No. 27 overall Cincinnati/NBA, 1968
David Harrison, No. 29 overall Indiana/NBA, 2004
Jim Davis, No. 29 overall Detroit/NBA), 1964
Ken Charlton, No. 32 overall Cincinnati/NBA, 1963
*Jim Creighton, No. 39 overall Seattle/NBA, 1972
Donnie Boyce, No. 42 overall Atlanta/NBA, 1995
Jaquay Walls, No. 56, Indiana/NBA, 2000
Alex Stivrins, No. 75, Seattle/NBA, 1985
Chuck Williams, No. 77, Philadelphia/NBA, 1968
Chuck Gardner, No. 81, Baltimore/NBA, 1966
Joe Cooper, No. 96, New Jersey/NBA, 1981
Wilky Gilmore, No. 98, St. Louis/NBA, 1962
Dave Logan, No. 139, Kansas City/NBA, 1976
JoJo Hunter, No. 146, Milwaukee/NBA, 1981
Lee Haven, No. 146, Portland/NBA, 1974
Rob Gonzalez, No. 147, Detroit/NBA, 1983
Larry Vaculik, No. 168, Denver/NBA, 1978
Jacques Tuz, No. 173, San Diego/NBA, 1982
Emmett Lewis, No. 181, Denver/NBA, 1979
Brian Johnson, No. 212, Phoenix/NBA, 1981
Tom Harrold, fourth pick, Fort Wayne/NBA, 1955
Burdette Haldorson, fifth pick, Milwaukee/NBA, 1955
Tom Mock, ninth pick, Fort Wayne/NBA, 1955
Wayne Tucker, ninth pick, Tri-Cities/NBA, 1951
Robert Doll, St. Louis/NBA, 1946
*Cliff Meely, first round pick, Denver Nuggets, 1971
*Jim Creighton, additional round choice of Dallas, 1972
*-drafted by both the NBA and ABA in the same year
Round Breakdown (34)
1st Round: 7
2nd Round: 2
Other NBA draft picks: 4
NBA Team Breakdown (31)
Detroit (2)/Fort Wayne (2): 4
Sacramento/Cincinnati (2)/Kansas City (1)/KC-Omaha (1): 4
Atlanta (1)/Tri-Cities (1): 2
L.A. Clippers/San Diego (2): 2
St. Louis: 2
Golden State: 1
New Jersey: 1