The NBA Draft is coming up soon and many pundits have Auburn Tiger Jabari Smith going number one overall and beginning his professional career in Orlando. Even if he doesn’t become the very first player taken, many NBA Draft best bets will include Smith being picked early on.
The Auburn freshman was incredible last year and his shooting fired the Tigers to one of their best seasons in recent history. He is now expected to transfer his skills and talent to the big league. But he is far from the only player from Auburn to take the step up to the pro game. Here are five of the very best.
Where else to start but with Sir Charles? Barkley spent three years at Auburn and became a firm fans’ favorite thanks to his talent on the court and his personality. He was selected with the fifth pick in the first round of the 1984 NBA Draft by the Philadelphia 76ers.
Barkley went on to play at the Phoenix Suns and the Houston Rockets before retiring in 2000. Although he never won a championship ring, he was the NBA MVP in 1993 and multiple All-Star player. He was a member of the original Dream Team and won two Olympics gold medals in a glittering career.
Although Chuck Person’s coaching career at Auburn ended in controversy and a corruption scandal, he had previously excelled as a player at the school and went on to become a star in the NBA too. He was originally taken fourth overall in the 1986 draft by the Indiana Pacers and won the Rookie of the Year award in 1987.
He went on to play 14 seasons in the NBA but never really captured the excellence of his college career and his first years in the league. Person went into coaching after retiring in 2000 and was the assistant coach at a number of NBA teams – winning a championship with the Lakers in 2010 – before returning to Auburn in 2014.
Four years after Chuck lit up the court at Auburn, his younger brother starred for the Tigers – and he was taken 23rd overall in the 1994 NBA Draft by the Phoenix Suns. He began his professional career almost as well as his brother, making the NBA All-Rookie Second Team.
He played for a number of other teams in an 11-year NBA career in which he became most well known for his three point shooting. He actually led the league in three-pointers in his first season with the Cleveland Cavaliers. After retiring he has coached in the women’s game and, most recently, community college hoops.
Mitchell played for Auburn from 1974 to 1978 and remains the Tigers all-time leading rebounder and is second in all-time scoring only to Chick Person. He was drafted 15th overall in the 1978 draft by the Cleveland Cavaliers, but he most well known for his time with the San Antonio Spurs.
An All-Star in 1981, Mitchell played 11 seasons in the NBA and is still the seventh highest scoring player in Spurs history. He later played for teams in Italy and Israel before returning to San Antonio to work with at-risk youth. He sadly died from cancer in 2011.
Born in Dakar, Senegal, N’Diaye was spotted at a developmental program in his home country before moving to the US, ending up at Auburn in 1996. Although his college career started slowly, he steadily improved and ended up breaking Charles Barkley’s record for blocks in his junior year.
After being picked 26th overall in the 2000 draft by the Denver Nuggets, N’Diaye used his 7ft frame to forge a successful career in the NBA, turning out for the Raptors, Mavs and Hawks. He then went on to play across Europe in a number of leagues and is currently an assistant coach at the University of Central Florida.