Huskies in the NBA: Kemba shines, Villanueva hates dancing

Charlotte Hornets' Kemba Walker (15) celebrates after making a basket against the Miami Heat during the second half in Game 3 of an NBA basketball playoffs first-round series in Charlotte, N.C., Saturday, April 23, 2016. The Hornets won 96-80. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

In the history of the University of Connecticut men’s basketball program, 35 players have gone on to play in the NBA. There are currently six players on active rosters. This year’s NBA Playoffs began with four Huskies hunting for the Larry O’Brien trophy. We’re now down to three.

Kemba Walker and Jeremy Lamb, two central members of 2011’s national championship team, have helped the Charlotte Hornets secure the sixth-seed in the Eastern Conference.

While Walker did not win the NBA’s Most Improved Player award, it has been his play that has kept Charlotte competitive against Miami and allowed the franchise to pick up its first playoff win since 2002.

Charlotte’s starting point guard has averaged 22 points with four assists and three boards in the first three games of the series. Only teammate Courtney Lee has logged more minutes this series than Kemba’s 110.

Walker’s fellow Husky in Charlotte, Jeremy Lamb, has played a considerably lesser role for the team. Lamb has been on the court for just over five and a half minutes in the series, scoring a total of four points.

The Detroit Pistons were able to secure the eighth and final playoff spot in the East but former Husky Andre Drummond and company were not able to knock off the top-seeded Cleveland Cavaliers. Detroit certainly had their chances in the series; they held a lead in the fourth quarter of game one but ended up losing the game 106-101. The next two games were both double-digit losses before game four’s 100-98 thriller that saw the Cavaliers complete the sweep.

Despite the sweep, Drummond was able to put together some impressive numbers. The Pistons’ starting center shot an incredible 52 percent from the floor and averaged 16.8 points and nine boards through four games.

Out in the Western Conference, NBA veteran and UConn alum Charlie Villanueva is averaging six and a half minutes for the Dallas Mavericks in their series against the Thunder, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t making headlines. It isn’t for Villanueva’s average of three points per game in the playoff series, but for what he did pregame.

Charlie Villanueva and Mavericks’ teammate Justin Anderson walked between Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook and Cameron Payne as they were performing a pre-game dance routine, something the Thunder players had done all season.

When asked about the incident after the game, Villanueva continued to take exception, suggesting that if Westbrook wants to dance he ought to “Go to ‘Dancing With the Stars’ and be a dancer.”

By the way, Dallas won that game to even the series at 1-1. Now Villanueva’s mind games won't show up on the stat sheet, but there’s a reason this was the only game Dallas has won in the series. 


Connor Donahue is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at connor.f.donahue@uconn.edu.