Collins, the Pac-10 Player of the Year in 1980 after averaging 23.1 points, 6 rebounds and 2.7 steals per game, was drafted 18th overall by the Atlanta Hawks after that season. The closest any Cougar has come since then was 1996, when Mark Hendrickson was taken 31st overall by the 76ers.
Now there's Thompson, the reigning Pac-10 scoring champion, whose draft stock has gone so far through the proverbial roof that he seems a virtual lock to eclipse Collins atop the all-time Cougar draft list.
DON COLLINS: The Pride of Toledo, Ohio, was second-team AP All-American in 1980.
In January, Thompson was widely considered a mid- to late SECOND-round choice. In April, he was thought to be a late first rounder. In May he was widely viewed as a mid first-rounder. And now,after a series of impressive private workouts with close to a dozen teams, he’s viewed a lottery lock and will be in the “green room” when the draft commences at 4 p.m. PT today.
USA Today, Sports Illustrated, ESPN's Chad Ford, NBAdraft.net, HoopsWorld.com and DraftExpress.com all forecast Thompson going with the No. 10 pick to the Bucks -- a team desperate for a shooter as they brought up the league's rear in shooting and field-goal percentage this past season.
The Kansas City Star likens Thompson to Dell Curry and sees him going with the 11th pick to the Warriors, while the latest edition of the Sporting News pegs him at No. 12 to Utah.
And the rumor mill swirls with notions he could go higher. DraftExpress.com is tweeting that the Kings, with the No. 7 pick, are considering Thompson. ESPN's Ford says the Spurs, with the No. 29 pick, are mulling a trade of Tony Parker that would put them in the top 10 and in position to consider Thompson.
Not all draft observers see Thompson in that elite territory. Rotoworld.com and HoopsHype.com have him going, respectively, at No. 16 to the Sixers and No. 15 to the Pacers.
The financial difference between going 10th and 15th in the draft is notable. Under the NBA’s rookie salary scale, the No. 10 pick will make $2.3 million this season and the No. 15 pick $1.7 million. Either way, though, Thompson ought to expect a call from Bill Moos one day soon.
And speaking of WSU, in a story late yesterday by John McDonnell of FoxSportsWest.com, Thompson said, "Another year at Washington State would have been great, but I knew at the end of the season that I was ready for the pros, to go after my dream. It would be great for me either way, but I knew it was the time to make the jump. If I end up in Milwaukee — or wherever I go — I'll be thrilled. I've wanted this since I was a kid, and I'll be thrilled to play for any team that wants me."
NBAdraft.net is forecasting that WSU fan favorite DeAngelo Casto will be taken by Sacramento with the very last pick -- No. 60 overall -- in the draft. Casto has had workouts with the Kings, Suns, Grizzlies and others in recent weeks.
Sam Amick of FanHouse.com recently asked Thompson about his marijuana arrest in February. He quotes Klay as saying, "I wouldn't risk the draft or my draft status for something like that, and I put that stuff behind me. That's something I've moved on from. I could be drug tested at the next level, that's fine with me. I'm sure I will be. I won't risk doing that ever again just because I want to fulfill my potential ... I haven't been (smoking), and that's just me being honest."
Arizona Wildcats head coach Sean Miller, when asked by the Tucson Citizen to size up the Pac-10 players in today’s draft, said this about Thompson: “I think Klay Thompson is really talented. I marveled at how explosive he was. You look at the way he shot, it was really amazing to see. He was difficult to deal with. Klay Thompson can be a terrific player in the NBA.”
Three Cougars besides Hendrickson have been taken in the second round of the NBA draft: Kyle Weaver (38th overall to Charlotte in 2008); Brian Quinnett (50th overall to New York in 1989); and Guy Williams (34th overall to Washington in 1983).
The only Cougar ever selected to an NBA All-Star game wasn't drafted until the fourth round -- a round that doesn't even exist anymore. James Donaldson, who played 14 seasons in the NBA, was the 73rd overall selection in 1979. He went to the Sonics, where he stayed for three seasons before moving on to the Clippers, Mavericks, Knicks and Jazz.