A Runnin' Rebel First And Foremost
June 27, 2013
LAS VEGAS (UNLVRebels.com) - Former UNLV men's basketball forward Anthony Bennett became the program's first NBA Draft pick in 10 years when he was selected No. 1 overall by the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday night at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.
With the pick, Bennett became the 48th overall Runnin' Rebel player to be selected in the NBA Draft, the 14th in the first round, the ninth in the lottery and the second to go No. 1.
Bennett is the second player in the 14-year history of the Mountain West to be picked No. 1 overall in the NBA Draft (Utah's Andrew Bogut, 2005) and has become the first Canadian to be picked higher than No. 4 in the history of the league.
"It sounds pretty good," Bennett told the Miami Heat's Shane Battier during an interview on ESPN moments after being chosen when asked about being taken as the top pick. "Being the No. 1 pick has a lot of name to it, but it is just the game of basketball - so I am just going to work hard, encourage my teammates and do what I can."
When asked about being the highest Canadian ever drafted, Bennett added, "It's history. It is just a great honor. I'm speechless right now. I don't know what to say."
Bennett became the first player to be drafted from UNLV since Marcus Banks was selected No. 13 overall in 2003, and is the highest a Runnin' Rebel has been taken since Larry Johnson was also selected No. 1 by Charlotte in 1991. Bennett is the program's eighth top-10 pick in history and fifth to go in the top five.
"We are excited for Anthony and his family," UNLV head coach Dave Rice said. "It is a great opportunity for him and it also is terrific for Runnin' Rebel basketball. To be picked No. 1 is very special and something that only a select group of individuals get to experience. Anthony is a wonderful representative of UNLV and our program. This furthers the progress we have made and is evidence of the bright future ahead for UNLV basketball."
"It's a proud day for UNLV and Rebels everywhere, and we wish>Anthony Bennett the best in the NBA," said UNLV President Neal Smatresk.
Bennett is the first UNLV player ever drafted by Cleveland and the first forward from UNLV to be taken since Shawn Marion was selected ninth by the Phoenix Suns in 1999.
The first McDonald's All-American to play at UNLV straight out of high school since 1983, Bennett, who is from Brampton, Ontario, and went to Findlay College Prep in Henderson, Nev., is the first player in program history to come straight from high school and leave for the NBA after one season. Marion played one season at UNLV (1998-99) before leaving, but he started his collegiate career at Vincennes, a junior college in Indiana.
Following his freshman season in 2012-13, Bennett was named honorable mention Associated Press All-America, becoming the 11th Runnin' Rebel to earn that specific recognition.
He also became the first UNLV player to be named Mountain West Freshman of the Year in 13 years, was named as a member of the Sporting News' All-Freshman Team and was also a part of the United States Basketball Writers Association's Freshman All-America Team.
In addition, Bennett was a first-team National Association of Basketball Coaches' All-District 17 selection, was one of 15 players appearing on the final ballot of the John R. Wooden Award and was included as a finalist for the USBWA's Oscar Robertson Trophy and Wayman Tisdale Award, given to the National Player and Freshman of the Year, respectively. He was also named to the list of top 30 candidates for the Naismith Player of the Year Award.
Bennett was also named First Team All-Mountain West and to the USBWA's All-District VIII Team as well as selected to the MW Championship All-Tournament Team.
For the season, Bennett played in all 35 games, starting 32 of them. He led the team and ranked seventh in the MW with a scoring average of 16.1 ppg and paced the team and ranked fifth in the conference with 8.1 rebounds per game. He was second on the team with 43 blocked shots and his 1.2 blocks per game average was fourth in the league. He also led the team in 3-point shooting percentage at .375.
He recorded 12 double-doubles on the year, which ranked third in the country among freshmen, and had at least 20 points in 13 games during the season. He scored in double digits in 28 of 35 games, including a run of his first 17 games on the college level.
The Runnin' Rebels finished the season with a record of 25-10 and earned their fourth straight NCAA Tournament bid, making their sixth appearance in the Big Dance in the last seven years - only 12 programs nationally have matched that and it is tops in the MW over that span.
UNLV'S ALL-TIME NBA DRAFT FIRST-ROUND SELECTIONS Year Player Pick Team 2013 Anthony Bennett 1st Cleveland Cavaliers 2003 Marcus Banks 13th Memphis Grizzlies 1999 Shawn Marion 9th Phoenix Suns 1998 Keon Clark 13th Orlando Magic 1993 J.R. Rider 5th Minnesota Timberwolves 1992 Elmore Spencer 25th Los Angeles Clippers 1991 Larry Johnson 1st Charlotte Hornets Stacey Augmon 9th Atlanta Hawks Greg Anthony 12th New York Knicks 1987 Armon Gilliam 2nd Phoenix Suns 1986 Anthony Jones 21st Washington Bullets 1983 Sidney Green 5th Chicago Bulls 1978 Reggie Theus 9th Chicago Bulls 1975 Ricky Sobers 16th Phoenix Suns