BOZEMAN — Brian Fish knew it was coming, but the numbers still startled him.
Fish’s first Montana State team faced six first-round 2015 NBA Draft choices last season, and four other second round selections. In all, the Bobcats’ 10 drafted opponents were spread over four teams, led by Kentucky with six and UCLA’s two.
“Pretty amazing,” Fish said after Thursday’s NBA’s first-year player selection process. “I’d be surprised if many schools outside those power five conferences played that many.”
A cursory look shows that Gonzaga matches MSU’s total of 10 opponent individuals selected in Thursday’s draft, while San Diego State and Buffalo each faced nine.
It’s not unheard of for Montana State to face non-conference opponents with future NBA Draft choices, but the Bobcats played one much closer to home this season. Eastern Washington’s Tyler Harvey was drafted by the Orlando Magic in the second round, the first Big Sky player picked since Weber State’s Damian Lillard in 2012, and the first Eagle picked since Rodney Stuckey in 2006. Lillard was the 2013 NBA Rookie of the Year.
Fish’s perspective on this year’s draft wasn’t limited to the opposing bench. The Indiana Pacers used the 43rd selection to pick Joe Young of Oregon, who Fish coached during his time as a Ducks assistant. “He lives the NBA lifestyle,” Fish said. “He is always in the gym, he lives and breathes basketball, and he’s a scorer. I think he’ll have a nice career in the NBA.”
— MSU Sports Information