Kansas is without its own NBA team, but this doesn’t mean the state doesn’t know how to play basketball. The Sunflower State has produced some exceptional talent that has not gone unnoticed by NBA talent spotters. These players have played in teams far from home, but Kansas is where it all began.

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Ron Baker

Ron Baker was born in Hays, Kansas in 1993, then lived as a young child in Utica, Kansas. In the NBA, he has played for both the New York Knicks and the Washington Wizards, and since August 2019, he has played for CSKA Moscow. He has also played for the US national team in the 2015 Pan American Games, winning a bronze medal. His position is shooting guard, and he has played 96 games in the NBA, with an average point score of 3.1.

Earl Watson

Hailing from Kansas City, Earl Watson was born in 1979. He attended Washington High School in Kansas City, then college at UCLA. Between the years 2001 and 2014, Watson played for six different NBA teams, including twice for the Seattle Supersonics. He played 878 games in the NBA, with an average of 6.4 points. His position is a point guard. Since 2014, Watson has served as a coach for both the Austin Spurs and the Phoenix Suns. 

Larry Drew

Larry Drew was born in Kansas City in 1958 and played basketball in college for the Missouri Tigers. From his selection in 1980 for the Detroit Pistons, he played ten seasons for NBA teams that included the Sacramento Kings and the Los Angeles Lakers. He also played for the Italian team, Scavolini Pesaro. His position is point guard, and he has played 714 games with an average point score of 11.4. Drew has worked as a coach since 1992 for various NBA teams, and his son, Larry Drew II, has also played in the NBA.

Semi Ojeleye

Born in 1994, Semi Ojeleye is from Overland Park, Kansas. At high school in Ottawa, Kansas, he was named player of the year by Parade Magazine. He was drafted by the Boston Celtics in 2017 and has played for them since. Ojeleye plays in a point forward, he has played 164 games in the NBA and has scored on average 2.9 points. 

Willie Cauley-Stein

From Spearville, Kansas, Willie Cauley-Stein was born in 1994 and attended high school in Olathe, Kansas. His talents were noticed at a young age, and he played basketball and football at both high school and the University of Kansas. In 2015 he was selected by the Sacramento Kings, and in 2019 he transferred to the Golden State Warriors. Cauley-Stein has played 330 games in the NBA with an average of 9.9 points, and his position is center.

Lionel Hollins

Lionel Hollins was born in Arkansas City, Kansas in 1953, and went to high school in Las Vegas, Nevada. Hollins was drafted by the Portland Trail Blazers in 1975, then played for the Philadelphia 76ers, San Diego Clippers, Detroit Pistons, and the Houston Rockets until he retired as a player in 1985. Hollins has since served as a coach for various NBA teams. His position is a point guard and shooting guard, and he has played 673 games in the NBA with an average point score of 11.6.

Alvan Adams

Born in Lawrence, Kansas in 1954, Adams was a star player at the University of Oklahoma, with a record point and rebounds score. He was selected by the Phoenix Suns in 1975 and stayed with them until his retirement as a player in 1988. In a game against the Buffalo Braves in 1977, Adams achieved an impressive triple-double, with 47 points, 18 rebounds, and 12 assists. Adams played as center and power forward, and he played a total of 988 games in the NBA with a point score of 14.1.

Though a relatively small state in terms of population, Kansas has produced a promising range of basketball talents. Whatever that winning formula may be, basketball fans look to the future for the new generation of stars. Hopefully, there will one day be a home NBA team.

By Lata

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