Before Thursday night a UNLV player had not been selected in the NBA Draft since Marcus Banks was picked 13th overall by the Memphis Grizzlies (and then traded to Boston) in the 2003 NBA Draft.
That streak came to an end, as the Cleveland Cavaliers made forward Anthony Bennett the first overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft. Not only does Bennett end that streak, but he also joins Larry Johnson (1991) as the second player in UNLV history to be the top pick in the NBA Draft.
And given the comparisons made during Bennett’s one season in Las Vegas, it may be fitting that he was the first to hear his name called Thursday night.
Johnson was the only Rebel to go No. 1 overall when the Charlotte Hornets took him first in the 1991 draft. Since the day he committed to UNLV, Bennett couldn’t escape comparisons to Johnson, another brick house forward who could stretch the defense.
It was never fair because Johnson came to UNLV as a junior and Bennett was a much better outside shooter even while playing at Findlay Prep. But that didn’t stop fans from making the connection and now that they’re linked as top picks it’s only going to intensify.
With Bennett being the top pick in this year’s draft, could Canada claim the top spot two years in a row with Andrew Wiggins being a possibility in 2014? Only time will tell as there’s still plenty of basketball to be played between tonight and next June.
Raphielle can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.