Three Vanderbilt players taken within first 31 picks of NBA draft

Thursday, June 28, 2012 at 11:05pm

For the first time since 1974, three Vanderbilt players were taken in the NBA draft.

The Atlanta Hawks took John Jenkins with the 23rd pick in the first round on Thursday night. Festus Ezeli ended the opening round by going 30th to the Golden State Warriors. With the very next selection — the first of the second round — the Charlotte Bobcats picked Jeffery Taylor.

“It’s a historic night for Vanderbilt basketball,” Vanderbilt head coach Kevin Stallings said.  “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."

Jenkins, a 6-foot-4 guard from Hendersonville, was the first Vanderbilt player taken in the first round since the Chicago Bulls took Will Perdue 11th overall in 1988. Jenkins, who skipped his senior season to enter the draft, worked out with the Hawks twice over the last month, most recently on Wednesday.

"He is a guy that he can make shots," Hawks coach Larry Drew said. "You put him out on the floor you have to guard him at all times. You can see he has a passion about playing. Just watching this kid play he is a guy you can certainly get in the rotation right away. He is a hard worker and a great kid. Great kid."

A two-time All-SEC First Team selection, Jenkins averaged 19.9 points as a junior and was named a third-team All-American by the Associated Press. He led the country in 3-pointers per game (3.83) as the Commodores won the SEC Tournament championship and reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

"So blessed to be a part of the Hawks organization," Jenkins wrote on his Twitter account. "Hard work does pay off!!"

The 6-foot-11 Ezeli, who moved to Sacramento from Nigeria in 2004, left Vanderbilt as the all-time blocks leader with 204. Having not played organized basketball until 2007 he became one of the country’s most improved big men. He averaged 13 points and 6.3 rebounds to go along with a single-season school-record 87 blocks in 2010-11.

Taylor, a 6-foot-7 forward from Sweden who played high school in New Mexico, averaged 16.1 points as a senior and shot 42.3 percent from 3-point range. His father, Jeff, was taken by the Houston Rockets in the second round of the 1982 draft.

It marked the first time three Commodores were taken in the first two rounds of the same draft. In 1974, Jan van Breda Kolff, Terry Compton and Bill Ligon were taken in the first 10 rounds of the draft.

Shan Foster was the last Commodore drafted, in 2008 when the Dallas Mavericks took him in the second round.

7 Comments on this post:

By: fightcrib on 6/28/12 at 10:10

Because of the vision and hard work of several players, coaches, and fans associated with Vanderbilt over the last 10 years or so, you see the continued rise of Vanderbilt Athletics.

Jay Cutler, Earl Bennett, D.J. Moore, David Price, Matt Frieje, Jermaine Beal, Shan Foster, Mike Minor, Anthony Gomez, John Jenkins, Jeff Taylor, Festus Ezeli, Ryan Flaherty, Reshard Langford, Pedro Alvarez, Lance Gouldbourne, Jackie Wu (Women's Tennis)

Tim Corbin, Kevin Stallings, Bobby Johnson , James Franklin

David Williams, Brock Williams, Frank Zeppos

Vandy Lance, that guy always chearing loud at the Vandy baseball games, Honerable mention: myself

Vanderbilt is primetime now. You will see a national championship in one of the major sports in the next five years, Book it.

The best part is, we will have achieved it the clean way, the honorable way. Anchor down..

By: fightcrib on 6/28/12 at 11:54

I forgot perhaps the most key Administrative figure of all for Vanderbilt, Joe Fisher.

Joe Fisher is a truly great announcer, but above all he has been the heart and soul of Vanderbilt Athletics over the last 10 years. If you have listened to a Vanderbilt broadcast you understand what I mean. He is a consummate gentleman, always very knowledgeable and respectful about the programs that Vanderbilt faces. He is the true ambassador of Vanderbilt sports

By: Rasputin72 on 6/29/12 at 6:14

If you look at the won and lost record for these three young men together you would have never thought that they were that good. Perhaps coaching may have had something to do with their mediocre to just above average won and lost record.

I would bet that this coming year that Austin Peay,Lipscomb,Belmont,MTSU and Tennessee State wish that Vanderbilt was on their schedule.

By: joe41 on 6/29/12 at 7:03

Congratulations to the three Commodores selected in last night's draft. While I am not a pro basketball fan, I will sneak a peek at the progress these guys have in the NBA. Best wishes to Steve, Lance, and Brad as they find their way on to a court somewhere.Joe

By: wiseguy1 on 6/29/12 at 10:22

Fightcrib ... pleae add Gordon Gee to your administrators list. He was instrumental in tilting the scale toward a winning perspective. Wyatt & Heard believed that participation in athletics merely enriched the academic experience.

If the whole culture change was Williams idea or not, Gee completely supported the move.

By: wiseguy1 on 6/29/12 at 10:41

Rasputin ... I sort of agree with you thought process. In your line of thinking .. coaching performance W-L perspective ... Corbin has certainly done the best with the talent available. I think Stallings has certainly underperformed in putting his teams in position to win big on national scale. Johnson & Stallings both have some big wins to their credit, but consitancy is not there. Jury is still out on Franklin. There is a common thread of Stallings and Johnson keeping the players heads in the game and maybe it is simply the season that allows baseball players to focus more on the game than football and basketball. Many games where an obviously more talented VU footabll and basketball team lost because the game plan fell apart and there was little to no effective adjustment from the sidline.

By: fightcrib on 6/29/12 at 11:54

Ok, Gordon Gee was borderline to get on my list, but I'll go ahead and put him on there.