It was a 50-50 evening for Arizona Wildcats at NBA Draft

Photo: foxsports.com

Photo: foxsports.com

BY: ED COLE

GLENDALE, Ariz. – Four Arizona Wildcats declared themselves eligible for the 2015 NBA Draft, but only two were selected.

Brandon Ashley, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Stanley Johnson and T.J. McConnell were all hoping to hear their names called on Thursday night, but only Hollis-Jefferson and Johnson got to meet NBA Commissioner Adam Silver up on stage at the Barclays Center.

The Detroit Pistons took Johnson –who declared for the draft after his freshman year – with the eighth pick. Johnson averaged 13.8 points (led Arizona), 6.5 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.5 steals per game for the Wildcats last season in earning Pac-12 Freshman of the Year and First-Team All-League honors. Johnson was just one of two freshmen (Duke’s Jahlil Okafor) in all of major college basketball to average at least 13.5 points and 6.0 rebounds. Johnson scored in double figures 30 times in 38 games and he posted three double-doubles.

Scouts loved his quickness, size and strength at the small forward position. They also fell in love with his defense and his physicality, which should translate well over to the NBA game.

Wildcats’ head coach Sean Miller was a very proud papa, seeing Johnson getting selected in the top-10 at the draft.

Hollis-Jefferson had a more interesting evening. He was drafted 23rd by the Portland Trail Blazers, only to be traded to the Brooklyn Nets, along with guard Steve Blake, in exchange for center Mason Plumlee and guard Pat Connaughton, whom the Nets drafted with the 41st pick on Thursday night.

Hollis-Jefferson is considered to be one of the top defensive prospects in this draft class. He’s able to guard multiple positions on the court; he’s long and athletic with good strength. Hollis-Jefferson was a First-Team All-Pac-12 and Pac-12 All-Defensive Team selection last season. He averaged 11.2 points, 6.8 rebounds (10th in the Pac-12) and 1.2 steals (14th), while shooting 50.2-percent (12th).

Miller couldn’t stop giving out love to his former players. He was just as active on Twitter for Hollis-Jefferson. His first tweet was shortly after Portland took Hollis-Jefferson.

Ashley and McConnell will most likely have to attend the NBA Summer League, perform well there, and hope teams take an interest in them and give them a contract. They’re both capable athletes who will be great additions to any NBA franchise; it’s just that their path toward fulfilling their dreams is a little bit more winding than Johnson’s and Hollis-Jefferson’s.