Inside Texas Analysis: Durant will need some help
"This is a dream come true," said Durant, who wore a burnt orange Texas tie. "I got used to the city of Seattle a little bit (during his visit a week ago for an individual workout). I can’t wait to get out there. Seattle is a great town with great fans."
The consensus National Player of the Year heard his name called shortly after Portland made Ohio State's Greg Oden the top pick of the 2007 Draft. It was the first time in NBA history that the top two Draft choices were college freshmen.
"I'm really proud of Kevin," said Texas coach Rick Barnes who attended the Draft. "This is a great night for him, his family and our program. He has been so loyal to The University of Texas, and he's done everything that he said he would along the way. I’m probably most proud of how Kevin stuck to his word in the spring and finished up his academic work by making the (UT Athletics Director's) honor roll (minimum 3.0 GPA. Note: Durant posted a 3.5 GPA during the fall semester, according to reports).
Texas is now the first school to have a Top Two pick in consecutive NBA Drafts since DePaul in 1981-82. Mark Aguirre was the No. 1 pick in the 1981 Draft, and Terry Cummings was taken No. 2 in the 1982 Draft. LaMarcus Aldridge became the highest draft pick in Longhorn history just one year ago. That's when Aldridge was selected as the No. 2 pick by the Chicago Bulls before his rights were traded to Portland.
"It's also a strong statement about our program," Barnes noted. "It is a testament to our assistant coaches and to our staff’s emphasis on player development. We've brought in young men who have improved themselves, both on and off the court, and it’s great to see them move on to fulfill their dreams at the professional level."
Durant, who averaged a Big 12-leading 26 points and 11 rebounds per game, was also the first freshman in NCAA history to win any National Player of the Year award. He was the only player to rank in the Top 10 nationally in both scoring (fourth) and rebounding (fourth). The Horns finished 25-10 and with a No. 16 national ranking in the final USA-Today (coaches) poll during Durant's only year in a Texas jersey. Texas also reached the championship game of the Big 12 Conference Tournament before falling to Kansas in OT, 88-84. The Horns reached the Second Round of the NCAA Tournament before USC ended their season.
Eight Texas players have been selected in the last eight years dating back to the 1999 Draft, including Kris Clack (1999, 55th overall pick by Boston), Chris Mihm (2000, seventh overall pick by Chicago then traded to Cleveland), Chris Owens (2002, 48th overall pick by Milwaukee then traded to Memphis), T.J. Ford (2003, eighth overall pick by Milwaukee), Royal Ivey (2004, 37th overall pick by Atlanta), LaMarcus Aldridge (2006, second overall pick by Chicago then traded to Portland), P.J. Tucker (2006, 35th overall pick by Toronto) and Daniel Gibson (2006, 42nd overall pick by Cleveland).
Earlier this week, Electronic Arts, Inc. announced that Durant would grace the cover of the EA Sports video game NCAA March Madness 08. Durant, who is still just 18-years-old, will get his paycheck from the youngest general manager in the NBA (30-year old Sam Presti).
"Kevin is a key component to the Sonics becoming a better basketball team," said Presti in a release. "He is a young man of tremendous character who possesses terrific basketball skills. We look forward to welcoming him to Seattle and preparing him for his rookie season."
Texas has had a total of 33 former players selected in the NBA Draft since the draft began in 1947. Seven of those players were first-round selections. Raymond Downs, a sixth-round pick by St. Louis in 1957, was the first Longhorn to be drafted.