June 28, 2012
Stallings on Draftees
History was made on Thursday night when Festus Ezeli, John Jenkins, and Jeffery Taylor each heard their names called at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., at the 2012 NBA Draft. It marks the first time the Commodores have had three picks in the first two rounds of the draft, and with John Jenkins being selected as the 23rd pick by the Atlanta Hawks, it was the first time since 1988 that a Vanderbilt player was chosen in the first round.
Seven picks later, big man Festus Ezeli was selected with the last pick of the first round by the Golden State Warriors (30th), and then with the next pick, Jeffery Taylor was chosen by the Charlotte Bobcats with the first pick of the second round (31st).
|Vanderbilt Draft Picks Commodore NBA Draft History|
|1||23||Atlanta||John Jenkins||Highlights||Photos||Atlanta's Danny Ferry & Larry Drew|
|1||30||Golden State||Festus Ezeli||Highlights||Photos||Jerry West | Ezeli Audio|
|2||31||Charlotte||Jeffery Taylor||Highlights||Photos||Charlotte's Rod Higgins & Rich Cho|
The Commodores had quite the night - it was the first time in the history of the program that two Vanderbilt players were chosen in the first round, and only the second time that the Commodores have had three players selected in the entire draft. The last time that happened was 1974 before the league shrunk its draft to only two rounds in 1989 - that year, Jan van Breda Kolff was picked in the second round by Portland, Terry Compton in the fourth round by Kansas City-Omaha, and Bill Ligon by the Detroit Pistons in the 10th round.
The Commodores have had at least two draft picks in the same draft nine times, but have never had two in the same draft since the event was shortened to two rounds in 1989.
Jenkins and Ezeli became the fourth and fifth first-round draft picks in the history of the program, joining Will Perdue in 1988 (11th, Chicago), Jeff Turner in 1984 (7th, New Jersey), and Clyde Lee in 1966 (3rd, San Francisco). Taylor became the ninth second-round pick.
"It's a historic night for Vanderbilt basketball," said Vanderbilt head coach Kevin Stallings. "For our program to have three players drafted - it's an awesome thing for those three young men. I thought Jeff would go higher, but for him and Festus to go back to back is a neat thing in itself. Nevertheless, I think they are all in good situations that are favorable to their futures. I'm proud of how hard they've worked, what they've done and how they've represented the university. It's a special night for them and for us."
Ezeli, who began playing competitive basketball in the summer before his arrival at Vanderbilt, emerged as one of the nation's top collegiate big men in his final two seasons and averaged 10.1 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 2.0 blocks per game in his senior season and departs the Commodore program as the all-time leader in blocked shots with 204 career blocks.
Jenkins, one of the SEC's all-time best three-point shooters, tied an SEC single-season record for threes made in a season with 132, and was named to the last two All-SEC first teams. He paced the nation in three's made per game with 3.9 per contest in his senior season, and made three or more threes in a game in 30 of 35 games played and six or more in three games. He scored in double-digits in 69 consecutive games to end his career.
Taylor, leaves the Commodores as the school's second all-time leading scorer with 1,897 points, and became the only player in school history to rank in the top 10 in scoring, rebounding, and steals. The Norrkoping, Sweden, native also made dramatic improvements to his outside game, finishing the season second in league games only in 3FG % at 48.8% (39-80) and third in the SEC in league games only in threes made (2.4).
With the departure of the three and other seniors Lance Goulbourne, Steve Tchiengang, and Brad Tinsley, Vanderbilt will have to replace 88% of its total point production in 2012-13. However, Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings sees this time as being the most exciting time in the history of Commodore basketball.
"This is a signal to players everywhere and to all of our prospects that you can come to Vanderbilt and get drafted in the first round," said Stallings. "It doesn't matter what position you play. We can develop you. If you come in with a great attitude and a great work ethic, then good things can happen to you. We are just really pleased with tonight's happenings and couldn't be prouder of those guys."