The Edmond Sun
Edmond Santa Fe graduate Ekpe Udoh was selected with the No. 6 overall pick in the NBA Draft by the Golden State Warriors on Thursday night in New York City at Madison Square Garden.
On hand at the NBA Draft was Udoh’s former high school coach Guy Hardaker, who left to become Central Oklahoma women’s basketball coach following Udoh’s senior year.
“It’s pretty awesome. A pretty amazing feeling to see him have this success. We’re actually up here. On Father’s Day he sends me a text saying, “Happy Father’s Day,” and I told him that we would be watching him on TV when the draft was on,” Hardaker said. “He said no you’re not Coach, you’re coming up here with me, I’ll take care of it. But me and my wife got up here, and found some tickets.”
Hardaker said that when Udoh was in high school, he had no idea the NBA was in his future.
“No, I didn’t think this would happen. He was always so thin, we had other guys on the team that were more athletic than he was, and he was injured a lot,” Hardaker said. “I knew he would be a D-I basketball player, but didn’t think this would happen. But he’s a great young man. And the thing he understood, that some of the other’s didn’t was that everyday was an opportunity to get better, and he did that.”
After a stellar prep career at Santa Fe, where the Wolves won one state championship, Udoh took his game to Michigan, where he starred for the Wolverines for two years before transferring to Baylor.
And it was at Baylor where Udoh became a household name.
“It was a better fit for me. When Coach (John) Beilein came in we struggled and I didn’t think I would reach my full potential,” Udoh told the Warriors in a pre-draft interview. It was Udoh’s play on the defensive side of the ball that drew so much attention.
“Well, defense wins championships, and we came close this year. Made it to the Elite 8,” Udoh said.
The Warriors are known for getting up and down the court in head coach Don Nelson’s system. The Warriors drafted Udoh for his defensive presence, as he gives them a capable defender, rebound and shot-blocker.
The Warriors drafted Stephen Curry, who was runner-up in the Rookie of the Year race last season.
This marks the second-straight year Edmond has produced a Top 10 pick in the NBA Draft, as Blake Griffin went No. 1 to the Los Angeles Clippers in the 2009 NBA Draft.