When Andre Roberson announced in April he would skip his senior season at Colorado and enter the NBA Draft, some thought he was crazy.
Several mock drafts projected him to be a second-round pick. Others had him going undrafted.
On Thursday night, no outside opinions or mock drafts mattered. Roberson wound up going earlier than expected when the Minnesota Timberwolves selected him late in the first around, 26th overall.
Roberson and his family were in attendance at the draft in Brooklyn and Roberson had the opportunity to go on stage following his selection and shake hands with outgoing NBA commissioner David Stern.
Roberson was later traded to the Golden State Warriors and then dealt to the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Regardless of his destination, it was huge for Roberson to go in the first round, because it means he will get a guaranteed contract. Second rounders are not assured of a guaranteed deal.
A 6-foot-7 forward, Roberson is the second Buff drafted in the past three years, joining Alec Burks, who was the No. 12 pick, by the Utah Jazz, in 2011. He is just the seventh CU player selected since the NBA reduced the draft to two rounds in 1989.
About an hour after he was picked, Roberson tweeted, "Wanted to thank CU for the best 3 years of my life! Most importantly the CUint and the community as we helped build it back up. #ForeverBuff"
Roberson became a fan favorite in Boulder and provided plenty of memorable moments in a CU jersey, helping the Buffs to 69 wins in his three seasons.
Last season as a junior, Roberson was named the Pac-12 Conference Defensive Player of the Year. He averaged 10.9 points and 11.2 rebounds per game for the Buffs (21-12), helping them to reach the first round of the NCAA Tournament for the second year in a row. He ranked second nationally in rebounds per game last year after ranking third in 2011-12 (11.1 per game).
During his three seasons in Boulder, Roberson scored 1,012 points and pulled down 1,045 rebounds -- just nine shy of the program record, held by Stephane Pelle (1,054 from 1999-03).
Although he came up short of Pelle's record, Roberson is the only player in CU history to accumulate at least 1,000 points, 1,000 rebounds, 150 blocks (150), 150 steals (164) and 100 assists (119). Roberson is also the only player in CU history to lead the team in rebounds, steals and blocks three years in a row.
In Oklahoma City, Roberson will join one of the elite teams in the NBA. Led by Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, the Thunder had the best record in the Western Conference this past season and played in the 2012 NBA Finals.
Although many pundits believe Roberson is limited offensively, his exceptional skills in rebounding and defense have been considered top notch. ESPN analysts Jay Bilas and Chad Ford said this week that rebounding is a skill that translates to the NBA better than other skills, which made Roberson a talent many teams wanted.
"All the statistical analysis says he should be a really good NBA player," Ford said.
Roberson is the eighth CU player in history to be taken in the first round of the NBA draft. ... This is the first time CU has had two players drafted in a three-year span since Donnie Boyce (1995) and Chauncey Billups (1997). ... Roberson is just the fourth player in CU history to leave early for the NBA, along with Billups, David Harrison (2004) and Burks. All four went in the first round.
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