Best Big 12 Player Drafted #3: Chauncey Billups, Colorado Buffaloes, by the Boston Celtics in 1997.
Everyone knows Mr. Big Shot as one of the most clutch shooters in the NBA. Nearly a career 90% free throw shooter and a career 15.5 point and 5.6 assist guy, everyone seems to forget that the Thrill From Park Hill started out as a journeyman, before finally landing in a leadership role on the NBA Champion Pistons. Prior to that, Billups bounced around, playing for four teams in his first five seasons. But as we all know, once he got to the Motor City then subsequently back to Denver, Billups' game had taken on a life of its own. Then, as we all know, he was included in the Melo deal that sent him packing away from his hometown, much to the dismay of all Denverites. (See below)
Best Non-Big 12 Player Drafted 3rd: Carmelo Anthony, Syracuse Orange, by the Denver Nuggets in 2003.
I'm not going to lie. I about listed Pau Gasol here, and could easily have justified the pick. As a Nuggets season ticket holder, I think I'm just still angry at the way Melo handled his contract situation. Had he remained he could have been etched onto the Colorado Mount Rushmore (with John Elway, Todd Helton and Joe Sakic) but instead he opted for the glam and glitter of NYC. I get it, and in the long run the Nuggets got a ton of talent in return (props to Big 12 hoops alumni and Nuggets owner Josh Kroenke). He also didn't quit on the team while the trade rumors were floating, but a piece of me - actually a chunk - hopes he isn't able to capitalize on the move by winning an NBA title.
In preparation for the 2011 NBA Draft, each day until June 23 we'll count down the best Big 12 player drafted with each pick. This list only takes into account players who played in the Big 12, so it starts with the 1997 draft. In total 70 Big 12 alumni have been selected, filling 43 of the 60 possible slots.