By Brian McInnis
While critics have disparaged this year's NBA Draft as watered down, and many of the top 10 picks were unrecognizable foreign players to the average hoops fan, a remarkable statistic emerged as the names were called today.
Of the first 18 players chosen for the 2011-12 NBA season, eight appeared in games played in Hawaii over the last two seasons, including picks 8 through 12.
Here's a breakdown:
No. 2 pick: Derrick Williams, So. PF, Arizona, to Minnesota Timberwolves. Hawaii tie: 2009 EA Sports Maui Invitational. Performances: 25 pts, 8 reb vs. Wisconsin; 11 pts, 9 reb vs. Colorado; 9 pts, 4 reb vs. Vanderbilt.
No. 8: Brandon Knight, Fr. PG, Kentucky, to Detroit Pistons. Hawaii tie: 2010 EA Sports Maui Invitational. Performances: 13 pts, 3 ast vs. Oklahoma; 24 pts, 4 reb vs. Washington; 6 pts, 5 ast vs. Connecticut.
No. 9: Kemba Walker, Jr. PG, UConn, to Charlotte Bobcats. Hawaii tie: 2010 EA Sports Maui Invitational. Performances: 31 pts, 3 stl vs. Wichita State; 30 pts, 4 ast, 3 stl vs. Michigan State; 29 pts, 6 ast, 2 stl vs. Kentucky.
No. 10: Jimmer Fredette, Sr. PG, BYU, to Sacramento Kings. Hawaii tie: Nonconference home-and-home series against UH in 2009 and 2010. Performances: 20 pts, 8 ast at Hawaii; 16 pts, 2 ast vs. Hawaii.
No. 11: Klay Thompson, Jr. SG, Washington State, to Golden State Warriors. Hawaii tie: 2010 Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic. Performances: 28 pts, 4 reb, 2 stl vs. Mississippi State; 20 pts, 4 ast, 3 stl vs. Baylor; 31 pts, 5 reb, 3 ast vs. Butler.
No. 12: Alec Burks, So. SG, Colorado, to Utah Jazz. Hawaii tie: 2009 EA Sports Maui Invitational. Performances: 11 pts, 6 reb vs. Gonzaga; 19 pts, 4 reb vs. Arizona; 13 pts, 4 reb vs. Chaminade.
No. 16: Nikola Vucevic, Jr. PF, USC, to Philadelphia 76ers. Hawaii tie: 2009 Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic. Performances: 10 pts, 8 reb vs. Western Michigan; 15 pts, 7 reb, 2 stl vs. Saint Mary's; 7 pts, 7 reb vs. UNLV.
No. 18: Chris Singleton, Jr. F, Florida State, to Washington Wizards. Hawaii tie: 2010 Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic. Performances: 6 pts, 12 reb, 2 ast, 2 stl vs. Hawaii; 28 pts, 9 reb vs. Butler; 17 pts, 10 reb, 2 ast, 3 blk vs. Baylor.
Others who appeared later in the draft who played in Hawaii sometime over the last two seasons were Butler's Shelvin Mack, No. 34 to the Wizards; Maryland's Jordan Williams, No. 36 to the Nets; Wisconsin's Jon Leuer, No. 40 to the Bucks; Kentucky's Josh Harrellson, No. 45 to the Hornets; College of Charleston's Andrew Goudelock, No. 46 to the Lakers; Kentucky's DeAndre Liggins, No. 53 to the Magic; and lastly, Washington's Isaiah Thomas, No. 60 to the Kings.
That's 15 of 60 (25 percent) of the draft. The vast majority of their appearances is thanks to the combo of the well-established Maui Invitational and the young-but-promising DHC bringing in solid teams.
Also, former UH forward Bill Amis should be poised to sign with a team (most likely in Europe) in the near future. Stay tuned for that.