The 05/06 basketball team was one of the most, if not the most, talented in our history. With 4 1st round picks and a solid rotation of role players, the sky was the limit for this loaded squad that was only 2 years removed from a national championship. We all know what happened, so no need to re-visit, but suffice it to say an Elite-Eight appearance was a huge disappointment given the combination of talent, experience and depth on the roster. For that reason it was pretty interesting, albeit a little disappointing, to see where the key members of this team are post-UConn.
The star of this class, Gay has turned out to be a much better pro than people thought he would be after his college career. A top talent who fell to 8th overall due to concerns about his motivation and shooting range, Gay was immediately traded from the Rockets to the Grizzlies where he spent seven years putting up very consistent numbers since year 2 to the tune of 20 points, 6 boards and 2 assists for a playoff contender. In 2013 he was traded to the cellar-dwelling Raptors as part of a 3 way deal.
Taken 12th overall by the Hornets, Hilton spent 4 years on the team not doing a whole lot, averaging 15 minutes per game behind Tyson Chandler. He bounced around with 4 different teams before signing with a French team for 2011-2012 and in Greece the following. He just finished up a season with the D-Leauge’s Santa Cruz Warriors, starting 24 games while averaging 13 points and 6.8 rebounds.
Drafted 22nd overall, right after Rajon Rondo, Williams did 3 years on 3 teams in the NBA before shipping off to Russia for a one year contract. He spent the next year in China, in the same league at the same time as Boone, and currently plays for Unicaja Malaga alongside fellow 2006 draftee Fran Vasquez. It looks like the highlight of his career thus far has been a brief stint in the Puerto Rican Basketball League where he made the All-league first team, All-Star Game MVP, and Skills Contest Winner in the summer of 2009 before singing with the Grizzlies for the NBA Season.
Boonie was taken 23rd overall in the Draft, right after Marcus Williams. The fourth Husky picked in the first round that year, Boone’s career got off to a slow start. He did pretty well in the summer league that year (for whatever that’s worth) but couldn’t seem to get much traction in the league. He did a couple of years in China before signing with the Iowa Energy of the D-League in 2013, where he only played 2 games before sitting out the year due to injury.
Taken 40th overall by the Sonics, Brown played sparingly in the D-League for a few years and did stints in Turkey, Italy, Philippines, Poland, Argentina, Romania and mother Canada. He is currently in Romania.
Despite the runaway success of “Pickup Truck”, Big Ed chose to pursue a career in professional sports. He actually signed as an undrafted free agent with the St. Louis Rams to tryout as a Tight-End, but that was a short lived experiment. He was soon playing ball in Europe before settling in Argentina where he has been playing since 2008, winning the league scoring title his first year. Seriously though, I love "Pickup Truck"
UConn’s career leader in three-pointers, Rashad went undrafted by the NBA (personally, I had a very hard time believing he couldn't be a Kyle Korver) ultimately ending up in Italy where he actually led Serie A in scoring for the 08/09 season. He was picked 9th overall in the D-League draft in 2009 by the Iowa Energy, though he ended up being bought out by an Italian team where he finished the rest of the season. After stops in Latvia, Iran and Lebanon, he settled in Venezuela where he plays for Cocodrilos de Caracas.
So besides Rudy Gay, not a whole lot of success at the NBA level among this group. Nevertheless, I think Boone and Armstrong have a shot of developing into competent big men. One needs to remember that the looming lockout and actual work stoppage had a pretty significant effect on the career arc of developing players. Certainly you wouldn't expect the 12th overall pick to be a fringe player after 4 years, but better to spend some time overseas or in the D-League playing consistently rather than wasting away on the bench in the NBA as so many promising players before them have. If you weren't a lock for a starting role in the NBA, or even a roster spot, then why would you pursue that given the uncertainty of the labor situation? That’s why Boone ended up in China and is now in the D-League to prove his mettle, same with Armstrong. We’ll keep tabs on them as they (hopefully) make their name in the D-League and onto NBA rosters.