100 Moments: 21 Tigers Drafted in the NBA
Monday, July 16, 2012
100 Moments: 21 Tigers Drafted in the NBA

The 100 Moments of TSU Athletics presented by Taco Bell® series continues by recognizing some of the school's best basketball student-athletes who accomplished something that many others can only dream of doing.

Any men's basketball player has visions of themselves playing in the NBA at one point in their lives. Only a select handful actually makes it into the league, but there are 21 former Tigers that can claim that they have had the distinct honor of actually getting drafted by a NBA team.

The first TSU player to get drafted was Joe Buckhalter in the 13th round of the 1958 draft by the St. Louis Hawks. That year, the NBA Draft had recently expanded to 17 rounds, in stark contrast to the two rounds of the draft today.

Buckhalter only played 65 games spanning over two seasons in the league, scoring 375 points.

While Buckhalter was the first TSU player to get drafted, the first star-player to get drafted from the school was Dick Barnett.

Barnett left Tennessee State as the school's all-time leader in points by nearly a 2,000 point margin, so it is not surprising that Barnett was selected fourth overall in the 1959 draft by the Syracuse Nationals.

Like in college, Barnett flourished in the NBA playing 14 seasons in the league for mainly the New York Knicks. Barnett finished his NBA career with over 15,000 points and 2,700 assists.

The next notable TSU draftee was Ben Warley who was so good that he got drafted twice: first in 1960 by the Minneapolis Lakers and then by the Syracuse Nationals in 1961.

Warley held out on playing with Minneapolis after getting drafted in the fourth round and his persistence paid off as the Nationals used their first round selection on him the following season.

Later in the decade, four Tigers got selected in the 1968 draft by three different teams. The Seattle Supersonics started the run of TSU players by selecting Ed Johnson in the third round, and the Atlanta Hawks used their consecutive selections in the 10th and 11th rounds to take Dwight Waller and Henry Watkins. Nate Ware was the last Tiger to hear his name called, getting selected in the 17th round by the Philadelphia 76'ers.

The seventies were also kind to Tennessee State as five players got drafted including some of the school's most prolific players.

Ted "Hound" McClain was taken by the Hawks in the second round of the 1971 draft after scoring 2,309 points at TSU. McClain did not have a long career in the NBA, but he played well in the ABA, and even made the ABA All-Star Game in 1974.

In 1972, Tennessee State's all-time leader in rebounds, Lloyd Neal was selected by the Portland Trailblazers in the third round. He spent his entire seven year career in Portland and tallied 3,370 career rebounds.

Two years after Neal was selected, Leonard "Truck" Robinson was chosen in the second round by the Washington Bullets. A two-time All-Star, Robinson's finest season was during his time with the New Orleans Jazz when he averaged 22.7 points per game and a league-high 15.7 rebounds per game.

The next notable TSU-alum to hear his name called on draft day was Anthony Mason in 1988. The Portland Trailblazers used their third round pick on Mason that year, but Mason never entered a game for the team.

The best of Mason's 13 NBA seasons came with the Knicks where he won the NBA Sixth Man of the Year Award in 1995. Mason set a Knicks record in the 1995-96 season by playing 3,457 minutes while also leading the league in minutes played per game with 43.1.

The last former Tiger to get drafted was Carlos Rogers who was taken in the first round by the Seattle Supersonics in 1994. Rogers played for five NBA teams during the course of his nine year career.

Student-athletes on this year's TSU basketball team will be vying to have their dreams realized and become the school's 22nd player drafted in next year's NBA Draft.  

TSU Student-Athletes Drafted in the NBA

1958 - Joe Buckhalter, St. Louis

1959 - Dick Barnett, Syracuse

1959 - John Barnhill, St. Louis

1960- Ben Warley, Minneapolis

1961- Ben Warley, Syracuse

1961- Rossie Johnson, Cincinnati

1962- Porter Meriwether, Syracuse  

1964- Bob Edmunds, Baltimore

1965- Willie Porter. Cincinnati

1968- Ed Johnson, Seattle

1968- Dwight Waller, Atlanta

1968- Henry Watkins, Atlanta

1968- Nate Ware, Philadelphia

1971- Ted McClain, Atlanta

1971- Ron Dorsey, Phoenix

1972- Lloyd Neal, Portland

1974- Leonard Robinson, Washington

1979- James Tucker, New York

1980- Monti Davis, Philadelphia

1983- Mike Milligan, Philadelphia

1988- Anthony Mason, Portland

1994- Carlos Rogers, Seattle


Watch a video of TSU alum Anthony Mason:

The 100 Moments of TSU Athletics presented by Taco Bell® highlights some of the greatest moments in honor of Tennessee State's centennial celebration. A new moment will be released each weekday for a total of 100. These moments were chosen by the TSU 100 Moments committee, which consists of alums from various departments. TSU has so many great moments, not all can be represented in these 100.