Santa Clara’s Jalen Williams goes No. 12 to Oklahoma City in NBA Draft

The post-season ascension of Santa Clara guard Jalen Williams is complete.

Williams became the highest drafted player in school history Thursday night when the Oklahoma City Thunder made him the 12th pick in the first round of the 2022 NBA Draft. That’s three spots better than Steve Nash, the Canadian guard who went No. 15 to the Phoenix Suns in 1996 and went to win the NBA’s Most Valuable Player award.

The selection was a minor surprise, given a sampling of 10 mock drafts had Williams going between No. 14 to No. 20, with Atlanta the most popular destination at No. 16 in four mocks, and Houston at No. 17 with three.

In Oklahoma City, Williams joins West Coast Conference rival Chet Holmgren, the 7-foot forward out of Gonzaga who went No. 2 overall behind top pick Paulo Banchero of Duke.

Williams wasn’t considered a lottery pick (top 14) when he decided to enter the draft following a junior season with the Broncos when he averaged 18.0 points per game and was an All-WCC choice under coach Herb Sendek. However, after workouts with NBA teams and his performance his at the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago in May, Williams began to generate some buzz because of his physical gifts his as well as his performance in scrimmage with other draft-eligible players.

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