The NBA Draft tips off tonight and Justin James is hoping to become the 30th University of Wyoming player selected.

Since its inception 72 years ago, 29 former Pokes have been drafted. The first draft in professional basketball history took place in 1947 and included two former Wyoming players, Ron Livingstone and Bill Strannigan, who were chosen in the 5th round of the inaugural Basketball Association of America (BAA) Draft.

Of the 29 former Cowboys who have been drafted, five were first round picks. The highest draft pick in Wyoming history was Bill Garnett, who was chosen with the fourth overall selection in the first round by the Dallas Mavericks in 1982. Garnett’s college teammate Charles Bradley was drafted by the Boston Celtics one year earlier, becoming the first Wyoming player ever taken in the first round.

In 1988, Erik Leckner was chosen by the Utah Jazz with the 17th overall pick in the first round and played for nine years in the league. Theo Ratliff, who was drafted by the Detroit Pistons in the first round of the 1995 draft, had the longest professional career of any Wyoming alum. Ratliff played 16 NBA seasons, led the league in blocked shots three times, was named to the NBA All-Defensive team twice and was a 2001 NBA All-Star.

It would take another 20 years before another Pokes player was drafted. In 2015, Larry Nance, Jr. was selected by the Los Angeles Lakers with the 27th overall pick in the first round.

If James is drafted, it will likely be late in the second round. As a senior, the 6'7" guard averaged 22.1 points and 8.5 rebounds per game, earning All-Mountain West honors for the third consecutive season, and finished his college career in third-place on Wyoming's career scoring list. If James goes undrafted, he will likely have an opportunity to play in the NBA Development League or for a professional team overseas.


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