Nate Robinson Picked in First Round of NBA Draft
June 28, 2005
SEATTLE -- 'I was so shocked to go 21st,' Nate Robinson exclaimed Tuesday after the NBA Draft. 'I didn't have any idea I was going that high.'
The dynamic 5-foot-9 University of Washington guard was projected in mock drafts anywhere from late in the first round to midway through the second round. He went higher than even he expected as the Phoenix Suns picked him two-thirds of the way through the first round.
Robinson became the first player drafted out of UW since 1999 when Todd MacCulloch was picked in the second round by Philadelphia, the 47th player taken. Eighteen years passed between first-round selections of Huskies. The last UW first-rounder was Chris Welp, the 16th pick overall by Philadelphia in 1987.
Only five players have gone straight from UW into the first round of the draft, including Bob Houbregs (1953, 3rd overall, Milwaukee), Detlef Schrempf (1985, 8th overall, Dallas) and Jack Nichols (1948, 12th overall, Washington).
Washington signee Martell Webster, from Seattle Prep High School, was selected No. 6 overall by the Portland Trailblazers.
A two-time first-team All-Pac-10 Team member, Robinson led the Huskies and ranked sixth among conference players with 16.4 points per game his junior season. He received third-team Associated Press All-America acclaim.
Robinson concluded his career listed 18th among Washington scorers with 1,283 points. He ranks third among all-time Huskies with 140 career steals, fourth with 127 career 3-pointers and sixth in career assists with 295. Robinson distributed 159 assists in 2005, the third-highest single-season total ever for a UW player.
He averaged 13.2 points in 2004 after tallying 13.0 points-per-game during his 2003 campaign that was capped by his selection to the All-Pac-10 Freshman Team. Robinson is the first player in 15 years to lead the Huskies in scoring during three straight seasons.
Robinson is the third Washington basketball player to leave school early and declare for the draft, joining Mark Sanford who was selected during the second round in 1997, and Doug Wrenn who was not drafted in 2003.
Robinson is a product of Seattle's Rainier Beach High School where he was a teammate of current New York Knicks standout Jamal Crawford.
The two prep teammates will be reunited, as Robinson was packaged with Quentin Richardson in a draft-day trade to New York for Kurt Thomas and UCLA's Dijon Thompson who was the 54th overall pick.
'It's going to be great to play with Jamal again. We're going to turn that place upside down,' Robinson said. 'It will be like Rainier Beach all over again and we'll be wearing orange, blue and white uniforms just like high school.'
Robinson was the 2002 Washington state basketball player of the year at Rainier Beach. He led the Vikings to a 28-1 record en route to the 2002 state championship and a No. 7 national ranking from USA Today. Robinson averaged 17.9 points, seven rebounds and seven assists as a prep senior.
Robinson watched the draft in Seattle at the home of a family member. He was surrounded by a throng of friends and family, all of them gathered tightly around the television set.
'My agent called and said I was about to go No. 21,' explained Robinson. 'Then we watched it on TV. It's unbelievable just sitting right there and seeing my name as the 21st pick.'
He was proud of the fact that the live ESPN telecast aired some of his Husky football highlights along with some spectacular plays on the basketball court.
Robinson originally enrolled at UW on a football scholarship. He joined the basketball team after competing as a freshman in 2002 on the Husky football team. He played in all 13 football games, including the Sun Bowl, and started the final six at cornerback. After his first year, Robinson decided to concentrate on the hardwood and switched to a basketball scholarship.
His father, Jacque Robinson, was a standout running back on the Washington football team and still ranks seventh among all-time Huskies with 2,300 career yards. Jacque is the only player to earn MVP honors in both the Rose (1982) and Orange (1985) Bowls.
Nate Robinson benefited from a return to college for his junior season. He applied for the 2004 NBA draft, but withdrew despite performing well at the Chicago pre-draft camp.
He bolstered his draft stock with a junior season during which he helped the Huskies to a 29-6 record and a Sweet 16 berth. Washington tied the 67-year-old school record for wins in a season, won its first Pac-10 Tournament championship and received a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament for the first time ever.
Two other draft-eligibles from UW were not selected Tuesday. Guards Will Conroy and Tre Simmons will now sift through several free agent offers from NBA teams. The two products of Seattle's Garfield High School had been mentioned as potential second-round candidates after impressive performances at the pre-draft camps.
The Seattle area had three players picked in the first round. Joining Robinson and Webster was Bremerton High School's Marvin Williams. The North Carolina freshman was picked second overall by Atlanta, the highest selection ever by a player from the Northwest.
'Having Marvin, Martell and me in the first round just shows that Seattle basketball is for real,' Robinson said. 'We're going to have even more guys going in the future with Brandon Roy and others.'