SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Orlando Johnson, UC Santa Barbara's all-time leading scorer and one of the greatest players in school history, was drafted with the 36th pick in the 2012 NBA Draft by the Sacramento Kings and quickly traded to the Indiana Pacers on Thursday evening.
Johnson, who scored 1,825 points in just three seasons as a Gaucho, was originally chosen by the Kings with the sixth pick in the second round of the draft, however, within a few minutes, he was dealt to the Pacers, a team that advanced to the second round of the 2012 NBA Playoffs.
A three-time First Team All-Big West choice, Johnson led UCSB to three straight postseason appearances. In 2010 and 2011, he was guided the Gauchos to Big West Tournament championships and NCAA Tournaments. Each time, Johnson was named the tournament MVP. In 2012, he helped Santa Barbara to a 20 win season, a12-4 league mark and a berth in the College Insider Tournament.
"I am so happy for O.J.," said head coach Bob Williams. "He is in a situation to contribute with a team that is already very good. When you trade for a someone, you clearly want that player, so that's an advantage for Orlando."
The Pacers took Duke's Miles Plumlee with the 26th pick in the first round. On the heels of talking about Plumlee with the 26th pick, team president Larry Bird told Pacers.com that they were still in the drafting game. "There's some players left we like. And we're gonna try to get to the second round and see if we can get somebody."
That player turned out to be UCSB's Johnson. Largely unknown outside of Santa Barbara, Bird described him this way, "Orlando's a big 2-guard who can get to the hole, he can defend, and we really like him." He continued. "He's a kid that gives something we don't really have: He's someone that attacks all the time. He's a big kid. A big stocky kid that can handle himself out there."
"He can shoot it pretty well. He's got a funny shot, a real high release, but he gets the ball in the hole in different ways and we feel he's going to be a real plus for the bench."
Johnson led Santa Barbara to back-to-back NCAA tournament showings for the first time in their history. The 6'5" guard brings good size and scoring at the guard position where he averaged 19.7 ppg, 5.8 rebs, and 2.9 asts his Senior year.
Add it all up and the Pacers came away from draft night with an intriguing mix of size, athleticism, scoring ability, toughness, and a blue collar work ethic.
Johnson, a transfer from Loyola Marymount who scored more than 2,000 points in his four collegiate seasons, was a two-time Big West Tournament Most Valuable Player as he led the Gauchos to the 2010 and 2011 NCAA Tournaments.
A native of Seaside, Calif., Johnson is the first Gaucho player drafted since Brian Shaw was taken in the first round of the 1988 NBA Draft by the Boston Celtics. Ironically, Shaw is the Associate Head Coach of the Pacers and, unless something freakish happens, will guide his fellow UCSB alum.
Shaw was a member of the 1989 NBA All-Rookie Team as a member of the Boston Celtics and, ultimately, helped lead the Los Angeles Lakers to three NBA Championships as a player (2000, 2001, and 2003) and two as an assistant coach to Phil Jackson (2009 and 2010).
On June 16, Johnson accepted his BA degree in sociology from UCSB.