Best NBA players from Oregon State University

These are the best NBA players from Oregon State University. To date, some 20 players from Oregon State have gone on to play in the NBA. The list includes a player who is probably headed for the Basketball Hall of Fame, a player whose father is in the Basketball Hall of Fame, and a player who holds the record for most minutes played in an NBA playoff game.

NBA great Gary Payton
Wikimedia Commons

My favorite NBA team, the New Jersey Nets, had Lester Connor on the team from 1989 to 1991. Connor attended Oregon State in 1981 and 1982, and averaged 11.1 points per game. Connor averaged 8.22 points per game for us in 199 games with the Nets, and 6.3 points per game over his 12 year NBA career.

I'm listing all the Oregon State players with NBA career averages of 9.0 points per game or better, so Connor does not make this list. Combined, the players on this list have won nine NBA Championships.

Best NBA Players from Oregon State University

1. Gary Payton - 16.3 points per game

Gary Payton averaged 18.1 points (25.7 as a senior) and 7.8 assists per game at Oregon State University from 1987 to 1990. He was then taken with the second overall pick in the 1990 NBA Draft by the Seattle SuperSonics. Payton played in the NBA for 17 years, and averaged 16.3 points and 6.7 assists per game.

Over his long career, Gary Payton accumulated the fourth highest steals total in NBA history with 2,445, and the eighth highest assists total with 8,966. Payton also played in the eighth most games in league history (1,335), and played the seventh most minutes all-time (47,117).

Gary Payton was a nine time all-star, and is still the only point guard in league history to be named Defensive Player of the Year (1996). Payton won a championship in 1996 with the Miami Heat.

Gary Payton scored 21,813 points in his career, the 26th highest total in NBA history. The only eligible player with more points who is not yet in the Basketball Hall of Fame is Reggie Miller. It's very likely Gary Peyton will be inducted into the hall of fame one day.

2. Lonnie Shelton - 12.0

Lonnie Shelton averaged 16.2 points and 8.4 rebounds per game at Oregon State from 1974 to 1976. He was then taken with the 25th overall pick in the 1976 NBA Draft by the New York Knicks. Lonnie Shelton played 10 years in the NBA, and averaged 12.0 points and 6.1 rebounds per game.

Shelton was an all-star in 1982, and won an NBA Championship in 1979 with the Seattle SuperSonics. His son, L.J. Shelton, was a first round NFL draft choice, and played offensive tackle in the NFL for 10 years (1999-2008).

3. Steve Johnson - 11.7

Steve Johnson averaged 17.5 points and 6.8 rebounds per game at Oregon State from 1977 to 1981 (redshirted in 1978 after playing three games). Johnson was then taken with the seventh overall pick in the 1981 NBA Draft by the Kansas City Kings. Steve Johnson played 10 years in the NBA, and averaged 11.7 points per game.

4. Red Rocha - 10.9

After starring at Oregon State from 1945 to 1947, Red Rocha was drafted by in 1947 by the Toronto Huskies of the BAA, the predecessor of the NBA. Rocha played nine years in the BAA/NBA, and averaged 10.9 points and 6.6 rebounds per game. Rocha was an all-star in 1951 and 1952, and won a championship in 1955 with the Syracuse Nationals.

Red Rocha is one of only two players who were born in Hawaii to play in the NBA (Cedric Ceballos is the other). In the 1953 NBA Playoffs, Rocha and teammate Paul Seymour of the Syracuse Nationals both played 67 minutes in a quadruple OT game vs the Boston Celtics. That is the most minutes ever played by a player in an NBA playoff game.

5. Dave Gambee - 10.6

Dave Gambee averaged 18.8 points and 10.6 rebounds per game at Oregon State University from 1956 to 1958. He was then taken with the sixth overall pick in the 1958 NBA Draft by the St. Louis Hawks. Gambee played 12 years in the NBA, and averaged 10.6 points per game. He won a championship in 1967 with Wilt Chamberlain and the Philadelphia 76ers.

6. A.C. Green - 9.6

A.C. Green averaged 14.7 points and 7.7 rebounds per game at Oregon State from 1982 to 1985. He was then taken with the 23rd overall pick in the 1985 NBA Draft by the Los Angeles Lakers.

A.C. Green played 16 years in the NBA, and averaged 9.6 points and 7.4 rebounds per game. He holds the NBA record for most consecutive games played at 1,192. Green was an all-star in 1990, and won three championships with the Lakers in 1987, 1988 and 2000.

7. Brent Barry(notes) - 9.3

Brent Barry averaged 12.1 points (21.0 as a senior) at Oregon State from 1992 to 1995. He was then taken with the 15th overall pick in the 1995 NBA Draft by the Denver Nuggets, and immediately traded to the Los Angeles Clippers. Barry played 14 years in the NBA, and averaged 9.3 points per game.

Brent is the son of Basketball Hall of Fame player Rick Barry, and the brother of NBA players Jon and Drew Barry. His grandfather, Bruce Hale, also played in the NBA in the early 1950s. Brent won two NBA Championships with the San Antonio Spurs in 2005 and 2007, and was the NBA Slam Dunk Champion in 1996.

Brent Barry earned roughly $54 million in salary playing in the NBA. How much would his dad, Rick Barry, have made if he played over the same time frame?

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Updated Tuesday, Sep 13, 2011