Kyle Anderson had, by almost any measure, a superlative college basketball career.
The 6-foot-9 point guard was the most important player on a UCLA team that reached its first Sweet Sixteen since 2008, registering the school’s third-ever triple double along the way. He was a third-team AP All-American, and a finalist for the Wooden, Oscar Robertson and Bob Cousy awards. He earned Pac-12 Tournament MVP, and even flushed in one of the most memorable dunks of the weekend.
But on Thursday night, five Pac-12 players saw their names flash up earlier — the wait finally ending when the San Antonio Spurs picked Anderson 30th overall to end the first round.
Before that, he watched Arizona’s Aaron Gordon go fourth overall; former UCLA teammates Zach LaVine and Jordan Adams go 13th and 22nd; and Washington’s C.J. Wilcox and Stanford’s Josh Huestis going 28th and 29th.
Questions bubbled up about whether Anderson’s middling defense, unimpressive athleticism or lack of a prototypical position would hurt him at the next level. Perhaps lost was the fact that he was just the third college player in 30 years to average at least 14 points, eight rebounds and six assists in a single season.
That he’ll start his career with the defending NBA champions — and arguably the best franchise in the league — bodes well for his career. Anderson has been compared to Spurs’ forward Boris Diaw, another player with both size and passing vision and one who played an instrumental role in the Finals against Miami.
San Antonio also routinely plucks talent from the bottom half of the draft. Kawhi Leonard, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Kawhi Leonard were picked 15th, 28th, and 57th overall in their respective drafts; they have combined for eight All-Star mentions and two NBA Finals MVP trophies.
Anderson’s selection marked the first time since 1979 that three Bruins went in the first round of an NBA draft. UCLA has produce 112 all-time draft picks, the most of any college program.