Fresh off a pair of Final Four appearances, Sam Dekker can officially add first-round NBA Draft pick to his resume.
The Houston Rockets used the No. 18 pick in the draft to make Dekker the second Wisconsin Badger drafted in the first round of Thursday's NBA Draft. Frank Kaminsky was selected earlier in the night with the No. 9 pick, making the two the first Badger teammates picked in the same draft since 1995 and the first two Wisconsin players ever selected in the first round of the same draft.
Dekker has been building NBA hype for a while now thanks to his physical attributes and on-court performance. He gained national attention last summer when he defended LeBron James at the NBA superstar's camp. This past season, Dekker was one of the Big Ten's best players, averaging 13.9 points and 5.5 rebounds per game, earning All-Big Ten Second Team honors.
Dekker was particularly impressive in the NCAA tournament, where he helped lead the Badgers to a second straight appearance in the Final Four. Dekker scored 20 points in a Round of 64 win over Coastal Carolina and followed that up with 17 points against Oregon. He was sensational in a Sweet Sixteen game against North Carolina, scoring 23 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. No Dekker game was bigger, though, than Wisconsin's Elite Eight win over Arizona, where the junior scored 27 points, including 20 in the second half where he was perfect from the floor and made five 3-pointers.
[MORE BIG TEN: NCAA proposes allowing NBA Draft declarers to return to school]
He added 16 points in Wisconsin's Final Four win over Kentucky, including hitting the biggest shot of the night to put the Badgers in front of the then-undefeated Wildcats for good.
Dekker is the fifth Badger selected during the Bo Ryan Era at Wisconsin. He was preceded by Devin Harris in 2004, Alando Tucker in 2007, Jon Leuer in 2011 and Kaminsky.
Ryan made this statement after Kaminsky and Dekker were selected.
“This is a very proud moment for the University of Wisconsin basketball program to have two guys go in the first round. That is special,” Ryan said. “And who knows, we may have some other guys that maybe didn’t go in the first round but still might end up playing at the highest level. I wouldn’t be surprised. But I’m very proud of Frank and Sam, and I’m sure everyone else takes the same pride in their accomplishments and now they’ve been rewarded professionally.”