Jordan Hill takes a shot (with Chase Budinger on far right) against Stanford last season/Tucson Citizen photo
Chase Budinger and Jordan Hill, who both left Arizona last year after their junior seasons, have been reunited with the Houston Rockets.
Hill, the eighth pick in the NBA Draft, never found his footing with the New York Knicks — was that his fault or the fault of a poorly-run franchise? — and was part of a three-team, eight-player trade at the trade deadline on Thursday.
Hill will go to the Rockets, who nabbed Budinger in the middle of the second round with the 44th overall pick.
Hill and Budinger were in Tucson last weekend during the break for the NBA All-Star weekend, hanging out with their former teammates.
“I think it’s great,” UA junior forward Jamelle Horne said of the trade. “I think they’re going to have a great time. They are truly blessed to be together in the NBA at the next level. I think they will be good together. … Or they could be really bad together.”
That last part was a little joke — perhaps a reference to too much partying? — but the early change of scenery should be good for Hill. He played in only 24 games with New York, averaging 4.0 points and 2.5 rebounds.
He already has garnered the “bust” label from Knicks fans, who would have liked point guard Brandon Jennings (or a few other players) at the No. 8 spot in the draft.
With his relative lack of basketball experience, Hill still has lots of upside, and playing time should be more available with the Rockets. It took him a while to adjust to Arizona; his learning curve could be similar in the NBA.
Budinger, who slid further in the draft than everyone expected, has been more than solid as a rookie, considering where he ended up in the second round. As a bench player, he is averaging 8.3 points, 2.9 rebounds and is hitting 34.4 percent of his 3-pointers.
He has scored in double figures in five of the past seven games.
Now, he has his ol’ UA buddy with him.
The Arizona Wildcats have sent so many players to the pros in the past 20 years or so that it’s not usual when there is more than one Wildcat on an NBA roster.
The question is, how many players have been teammates at UA and in the NBA?
Our sports partner, WildAboutAZCats.com, lists three four cases:
–Steve Kerr and Jud Buechler (Chicago Bulls, 1994-98).
–Steve Kerr and Sean Elliott (San Antonio Spurs, 1998-2001).
–Brian Williams and Jud Buechler (Chicago Bulls, 1996-97). Yes, Kerr was on the team, too, but Kerr and Williams were not teammates at UA, like Williams and Buechler were for the 1989-90 season.
–Mike Bibby and Michael Dickerson (Vancouver Grizzlies, 1999-2001)