Former Cyclone Chris Babb signed a 10-day contract with the Boston Celtics last week and received his first NBA playing time on Saturday in Boston’s 102-97 loss to the Indiana Pacers.
What an accomplishment for Chris. Babb was a key part of Iowa State’s back-to-back NCAA Tournament teams in 2011-12 and 2012-13. His play might have been somewhat overshadowed by his outstanding teammates, but there is no doubt that Babb’s stingy defense and clutch shooting were instrumental to ISU’s success.
Babb is now the 20th player in program history to play in an ABA/NBA game and the 17th Cyclone to receive playing time in the NBA since the 1986-87 season.
Iowa State’s track record for placing players in the NBA is terrific. As the men’s basketball contact for ISU men’s hoops for 13 years, I would always check our opponents’ history and see how many NBA players they produced. ISU usually had more.
You can thank Babb for the inspiration for this blog on Iowa State-NBA fun facts.
Ray Wehde…ISU’s first NBA Draft pick
Ray Wehde was a two-time first-team all-conference pick for the Cyclones in the 1940s, helping ISU advance to its first and only Final Four in 1944. Wehde was inducted into ISU’s Hall of Fame in 2010. At 87 years old, Wehde returned for the ceremonies and his stories were fascinating, especially his recollection of being the first Cyclone NBA draft pick.
In 1948, Wehde, a native of Holstein, Iowa, was selected by the Boston Celtics. Do you think times have changed? Well, imagine all of the players at the Celtic tryout camp sleeping in cots underneath the Boston Garden. It happened.
“The NBA was pretty new and I didn’t know much about it or the Celtics,’’ Wehde said. “I was married and I took my wife Virginia with me to the tryout camp. Since I was married, I was the only player who didn’t have to sleep over at the Boston Garden. I just decided after some time there that pro basketball wasn’t me. I had a $5,000 contract, not guaranteed, but Walter Brown was the owner and he allowed me to break the contract and he was even good enough to give me $300 for travel for us to go back to Iowa.’’
Jeff Grayer, Victor Alexander, Barry Stevens…A Warrior Trio
In early March of 1993, former Cyclone legend Barry Stevens signed a 10-day contract with the Golden State Warriors. Stevens, a two-time First-Team all-Big Eight pick for Iowa State (1982-85), was drafted by the Denver Nuggets in 1985 after leading ISU to its first NCAA Tournament appearance in 41 years. Stevens, who was the last player cut in Denver’s training camp, bounced around the Continental Basketball Association (CBA) for a number of years before getting his call-up.
What made Stevens’ entrance into the NBA so special was that he joined former Cyclones Jeff Grayer and Victor Alexander as teammates with the Warriors. It marked one of the first times in NBA history where three players from the same school were on the same team at the same time.
The Warriors were kind enough to stage a photo of the historical occurrence.
Jeff Hornacek and The Mayor…NBA leaders
Iowa State’s all-time assist leader Jeff Hornacek enjoyed a successful 14-year NBA career which featured an All-Star appearance in 1992 and a pair of trips to the NBA Finals as the starting shooting guard for the Utah Jazz (1997 & 1998).
Hornacek is currently in his first season as head coach of the Phoenix Suns.
Current Iowa State head coach and ISU All-American Fred Hoiberg played 10 years in the NBA, helping the 2003-04 Minnesota Timberwolves advance to the Western Conference finals.
Both Hornacek and Hoiberg own the distinction as the only Cyclones to lead the NBA in a statistical category. Hornacek led the NBA in free-throw percentage in 1999-2000 by making 95.0 percent of his shots at the charity stripe. Hoiberg was the NBA’s top 3-point shooter in 2004-05, hitting 48.3 percent of his shots from beyond the arc.
The Mayor proudly displays his NBA plaque in his office.
Hoiberg Had 90 NBA Teammates
Coach Hoiberg played for three teams (Indiana Pacers, Chicago Bulls, Minnesota T-Wolves) in his 10-year NBA career. On one of our summer Cyclone Tailgate Tours, I quizzed Coach on all of his teammates in the NBA. With his usual sharp wit, he started rattling off all of the guys and regaling stories to the lucky ones on the bus.
He may have forgotten a couple names, but he got most of them. We came up with the definitive list of 90 players later that summer, and it’s an eclectic mix to say the least. The list features 19 NBA All-Stars (19 players comprising 48 appearances), five U.S. Olympians (Kevin Garnett, Hersey Hawkins, Reggie Miller, Chris Mullin, Tyson Chandler), five Sixth Man of the Year winners (Ricky Pierce, Eddie Johnson, Toni Kukoc, John Starks, Jamal Crawford), two fellow Cyclones (Dedric Willoughby and Marcus Fizer) and other not-so-famous hoopsters.
Here is the list….
Hoiberg’s NBA teammates (90 players): Jerome Allen, Chris Anstey, Greg Anthony, B.J. Armstrong, Vincent Askew, Dalibor Bagaric, Lonny Baxter, Corey Benjamin, Travis Best, Corie Blount, Etdrick Bohannon, Elton Brand, Randy Brown, Rick Brunson, Adrian Caldwell, Chris Carr, Anthony Carter, Sam Cassell, Tyson Chandler, Jamal Crawford, Austin Croshere, Eddy Curry, Erick Dampier, Kornel David, Antonio Davis, Dale Davis, Bryce Drew, Ndubi Ebi, Khalid El-Amin, Duane Ferrell, Marcus Fizer, Kevin Garnett, Anthony Goldwire, Steve Goodrich, Eddie Griffin, A.J. Guyton, Darvin Ham, Al Harrington, Trenton Hassell, Hersey Hawkins, Troy Hudson, Mark Jackson, Eddie Johnson, Ervin Johnson, Lari Ketner, Toni Kukoc, Rusty LaRue, Quincy Lewis, Mark Madsen, Matt Maloney, Donyell Marshall, Darrick Martin, Roger Mason, Derrick McKey, Keith McLeod, Ron Mercer, Brad Miller, Oliver Miller, Reggie Miller, Chris Mullin, Charles Oakley, Kevin Ollie, Michael Olowokandi, Will Perdue, Sam Perkins, Ricky Pierce, Mark Pope, Khalid Reeves, Norm Richardson, Eddie Robinson, Jalen Rose, Michael Ruffin, Dwayne Schintzius, Brent Scott, Dickey Simpkins, Rik Smits, Latrell Sprewell, John Starks, Wally Szczerbiak, Dragan Tarlac, John Thomas, Lasalle Thompson, Gary Trent, Jake Voskuhl, Mark West, Jay Williams, Reggie Williams, Dedric Willoughby, Haywoode Workman, Metta World Peace.