While most of the Big Blue Nation has their sights set on the Vols, quite a few former 'Cats are having a big-time impact, and creating a big-time buzz in the National Basketball Association.
Currently, 12 former Wildcats are seeing time in the Association. That number doesn't include Daniel Orton, an Orlando first-round pick, who is out with a knee injury. We'll take a quick look at each player, and how their season is going.
John Wall -- Wall has been a bright spot in an otherwise dim year for Washington. Wall is averaging 15 points, 4 rebounds, and nine assists on the year. Wall's heady play, court-vision, and unparalleled athleticism has the Wizards' front office buzzing about his future. Wall recently put his skills on display in All-Star fashion, as he was named MVP of the Rookie-Sophomore game.
DeMarcus Cousins -- Cousins tenure with the Kings has been rocky, to say the least. His unbelievable skill-set has been offset by his emotional issues. Watching Cousins now, it's rather clear John Calipari knew exactly how to control the big man's anger. When on his game, 'Boogie' is unstoppable on the blocks. When off his game, he can derail the entire Sacramento franchise. Cousins is currently averaging 14 points and eight rebounds per game.
Eric Bledsoe -- The surprise of last season's draft class is proving doubters wrong. T hough he plays limited minutes, Bledsoe makes the most of his time on the court. His learning curve might be a little thrown off my his mentor, Baron Davis, being traded to Cleveland. But, Bledsoe is now under the wing of Mo Williams, and is still making the most of his time as he prepares for the job of Clippers' starting point guard. Bledsoe is averaging seven points, three rebounds and four assists in only 24 minutes per game.
Patrick Patterson -- When Patterson was sent to the D-League earlier this season, some thought it may be his NBA demise. Rockets general manager Darryl Morley quickly put that to bed, telling reporters that Patterson needed to see some court-time, before he could break into the Rockets' stacked frontcourt rotation. It wasn't long until Patterson was called back up, and making an impact. Patterson played just 21 minutes, but scored 20 points in a game against Detroit, solidifying his spot in the Houston depth chart. Patterson is averaging five points and three rebounds on the year.
Jodie Meeks -- It took a year for Meeks to catch on, but once he did, the talented swingman has been a big help for two NBA teams. Currently, Jodie is helping Philadelphia grab a playoff spot. His spot-up shooting ability playing opposite the slashing star Andre Iguodala has created easy shots, and driving lanes for Meeks. He's currently knocking down 41% of his three-point attempts, and is seventh in the league from the foul line, shooting .896%. Meeks is averaging 10 points-per-game.
Kelenna Azubuike -- After leading the D-League in scoring, Kaz made an immediate impact for the Golden State Warriors, averaging 14 a game for the past two seasons. He was moved to the Knicks as part of the David Lee trade, and had been sidelined by injury since. Azubuike was waived by New York February 28th, but all signs point to him finding a new NBA home, after his injuries heal.
Keith Bogans -- Playing for six teams in seven years, Bogans' has had a journeyman's career. Though, it seems his found his home, starting for Tom Thibodeau in Chicago. His defensive prowess, something Thibodeau cherishes, has landed him a starting spot. And, while he doesn't score in bunches, his three-point accuracy takes pressure of star point guard Derrick Rose, as Bogans' defender can't leave him alone on the wing. The Bulls have used their defense-first mentality to jump out to a 42-18 record, and lead their division by 15.5 games .Bogans is averaging four points, and two rebounds this season.
Chuck Hayes -- One of the most beloved Wildcats of all time has used his blue-collar style, and huge heart to carve out a spot for himself in the Rockets starting lineup. Hayes, at 6'6" won't shoot over defenders, but he uses his decent post-game, and savvy on the offensive glass to produce some scoring. His wide frame helps him keep larger players off the block, and his nose for the ball lets him get in position to keep his man off the boards. Hayes is averaging seven points and seven rebounds this season.
Jamaal Magloire -- The book is coming to a close on Magloire's NBA career. The ten-year vet is currently playing in Miami, trying to help LeBron and D-Wade bring a championship to South Beach . Magloire hasn't seen many minutes this season, though Heat coach Erik Spoelstra will toss 'The Big Cat' in when he needs some toughness. Magloire is averaging one point, and two rebounds.
Nazr Mohammed -- Mohammed is the old man on the young Oklahoma City Thunder. He was brought in as a veteran to help push the playoff-bound team in the right direction. Mohammed is also being used to help bring along young big men like Serge Ibaka and Cole Aldrich. While he is mentoring the younger players, Mohammed hasn't let the game slip away from him. Earlier this season, he put up an incredible 22 points and 20 rebounds, he's also scored in double-multiple times. Mohammed currently plays about 20 minutes a game for OKC, and is averaging seven points, five rebounds, and one block.
Tayshaun Prince -- Prince has recently been battling a back injury, and his Pistons have been battling an unfamiliar amount of losing. With his stingy defense and versatile offense, Prince was a lynch-pin of the mid-2000's Pistons mini-dynasty. But, the Pistons aged, and players came and went. Prince, along with Richard Hamilton, have been mainstays in the Motor City, but haven't tasted the recent success they are used to. While the Pistons haven't been winning, Prince is still playing his well-rounded game, averaging 14 points, five rebounds, and three assists.
Rajon Rondo -- The biggest Wildcat star in the NBA is leading his Celtics toward the promised land, again. Rondo captains the ship, directing stars like Paul Pierce, NBA three-point King Ray Allen, and Kevin Garnett. His tenacity on defense, and unselfish offensive play make Rondo the perfect straw to stir the drink in Boston. The Celtics are sitting at a comfortable 45-15, the best record in the East. Rondo is a big reason for their incredible record, stuffing the stat sheet by averaging 11 points, 12 assists, four rebounds, two steals on the year.
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