Connecticut's Fab Four Makes Pro Basketball History
We witnessed history.
No group of rookies from the same college impacted professional basketball, including the 55-year-old National Basketball Association, like the University of Connecticut’s Sue Bird (Seattle Storm), Swin Cash (Detroit Shock), Asjha Jones (Washington Mystics) and Tamika Williams (Minnesota Lynx) did during the 2002 WNBA season.
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WNBA.com scanned the professional basketball record books to determine how the Fab Four stacked up all time. The criteria for consideration was that four or more college players from the same school had to be selected in the same WNBA or NBA draft and three or more of those players had to play in the WNBA or NBA the following season.
Thus, the five University of Tennessee players (Chamique Holdsclaw, Tonya Edwards, Lisa Harrison, Carla McGhee and Kellie Jolly Harper) selected in the 1999 WNBA Draft were not considered as only Holdsclaw and Jolly Harper were college players when drafted. In the NBA, a group of players such as Michigan's Fab Five (Chris Webber, Juwan Howard, Jalen Rose, Jimmy King and Ray Jackson) were not considered because they entered the NBA in different seasons and never had a collective impact as rookies.
UNLV holds the NBA record for most players selected together, established when six players heard their names called during the 1977 NBA Draft. With no first-round picks in the mix, however, the sextet led by Glen Gondrezick and Eddie Owens had little impact in 1977-78.
NBA teams have drafted five or more players from the same school together eight times, but none of those classes had three, let alone four, players make significant impacts as rookies.
NBA all-time leading scorer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (known then as Lew Alcindor) headlined a list of five players from UCLA selected in the 1969 NBA Draft, but he (28.8 ppg, 14.5 rpg) and Lucius Allen (9.8 ppg, 4.2 apg) were the only former Bruins to play in the NBA that season.
The University of Minnesota had five players chosen in the 1973 NBA Draft and while two of those players selected never played an NBA game, Jim Brewer (6.1 ppg, 6.4 rpg) and Ron Behagen (11.0 ppg, 7.1 rpg) had solid rookie seasons and Dave Winfield became a Hall of Famer … in Major League Baseball.
The most prolific same-school rookie classes in NBA history consisted of Sidney Wicks, Curtis Rowe, Steve Patterson and Ken Booker (UCLA, 1971 NBA Draft) and Larry Johnson, Stacey Augmon, Greg Anthony and George Ackles (UNLV, 1991 NBA Draft). As the second overall pick, Wicks dominated as a rookie with 24.5 ppg and 11.5 rpg, and Rowe averaged 11.3 ppg and 8.5 rpg. Half the UNLV quartet (Johnson and Augmon) made the 1991-92 All-Rookie First Team, and Anthony had a solid season for the Knicks; Ackles did not make a roster.
The UCLA class accounted for 12.5 percent of their team’s points, rebounds and assists, more than four percent less than the Fab Four's 16.8 percent, while the UNLV class accounted for 12.4 percent. Statistically, no rookie class in history compares to the Fab Four.