NEW YORK – Arkansas junior Ronnie Brewer was at Madison Garden in New York for Wednesday night’s NBA Draft, and it was worth the trip.
Brewer became the 11th Razorback to be taken in the first round of the NBA Draft when theUtah Jazzselected him with the14th pick. The Fayetteville, Ark., native became the first Razorback ever selected by the Utah Jazz in the NBA Draft.
The versatile guard announced on April 27 he was considering leaving school a year early for the NBA and made it official on May 29 when he announced he had hired an agent – Hank Thomas of CSMG in Chicago.
Arkansas’ other first-round draft choices include Joe Johnson in 2001 (Boston, 10th), Corliss Williamson in 1995 (Sacramento, 13th), Todd Day in 1992 (Milwaukee, eighth), Oliver Miller in 1992 (Phoenix, 22nd), Lee Mayberry in 1992 (Milwaukee, 23rd), Joe Kleine in 1985 (Sacramento, sixth), Alvin Robertson in 1984 (San Antonio, seventh), Darrell Walker in 1983 (New York, 12th), Sidney Moncrief in 1979 (Milwaukee, fifth) and Ron Brewer in 1978 (Portland, seventh).
As a junior, Brewer earned honorable mention All-America honors from CollegeHoops.net, was a defensive All-American by CollegeInsider.com, one of 22 finalists for the Wooden Award and a first-team All-SEC selection by both the Associated Press and the league’s coaches. He averaged 18.4 points, 4.8 rebounds, 3.3 assists and an SEC-best 2.6 steals in leading Arkansas back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2001.
In addition to leading the league in steals, he was second in scoring, seventh in free throw percentage (.752), 10th in field goal percentage (.441) and 10th in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.49). In SEC play only, he led the conference in scoring (18.8).
He ends his Razorback career 16th in scoring (1,416 – 15.7 ppg), seventh in steals (216), 10th in assists (299) and tied for 10th in free throws made (326).
Brewer helped the Hogs go 22-10 with their most victories since the 1999 club went 23-11. Arkansas was also 10-6 and tied for second in the SEC’s Western Division, its best finish since 2001. The Razorbacks recorded wins over two top-10 teams (No. 10 Florida and No. 10 Tennessee) for the first time since 2002, won on the road against a top 10 team (Tennessee) for the first time since 1994 and led the SEC with a 15-1 home record.
With the departure of Brewer, Arkansas’ top returnees for 2007 are junior center Steven Hill (3.0 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 2.8 blocked shots), junior forward Charles Thomas (9.7 ppg, 5.0 rpg, .520 field goal percentage) and junior forward Darian Townes (9.5 ppg, 5.1 rpg, .500 field goal percentage). Other returnees include junior forward Vincent Hunter (3.7 ppg), sophomore guard Sean McCurdy (40 assists, 18 turnovers), sophomore forward Cyrus McGowan and junior guard Preston Cranford.
The incoming recruiting class, which is ranked No. 15 in the nation by Rivals.com, includes point guard Gary Ervin, a transfer from Mississippi State who sat out 2006 after averaging 7.4 points and 4.7 assists for MSU in 2005; junior wing Sonny Weems from UA-Fort Smith, who is rated one of the top five junior college players in the nation; freshman guard Patrick Beverley, who led the Chicago area in scoring as a senior (34.0 ppg); and freshman guard Stefan Welsh and freshman forward Michael Washington.