Trey Thompkins and Travis Leslie thought they had left Georgia to pursue their NBA dreams separately. As it turns out, they’ll be reunited in Los Angeles after the Bulldogs’ star players were both drafted in the second round by the Clippers.
Thompkins, a 6-9, 240-pound power forward from Lithonia, was the first to go, but not until the37th pick. His call came at 10:45 p.m., or three hours and forty-five minutes after the NBA Draft show on ESPN began.
The call for Leslie, a 6-4 guard from Decatur, came 10 picks and nearly a half-hour later.
“Congrats to Trey and Travis on being drafted,” Georgia coach Mark Fox said via his Twitter account. “Never thought I’d say I was going to cheer for the Clippers. . . . I will now.”
Thompkins (17 points/8 rebounds) and Leslie (14/7) were the Bulldogs’ leading scorers and rebounders last season. In L.A. they’ll join star forward Blake Griffin and fellow Atlanta native and second-year pro Al-Farouq Aminu of Norcross.
“Leslie can be a lock-down defender and we want to make sure Blake has competition in the dunk contest next year,” Clippers general manager Neil Olshey said. “Trey is a great compliment to Blake.”
Thompkins and Leslie were UGA’s first NBA draftees since Rashad Wright was the last overall pick in 2004.
Fox believes both players have pro potential but wanted them to return for their senior seasons.
“Trey has legitimate power-forward size and he’s got offensive skill and a high basketball IQ,” Fox told me the day before the draft. “I’m sure he’ll make a great pro. I think Travis will continue to improve. He improved a great deal the last two years and I don’t think he’s done improving. He’s not a finished product yet so it just depends on how teams perceive that.”
Thompkins and Leslie both entered the draft fully expecting to be first-rouond selections. But Thompkins’ stock dropped after his conditioning came into question, while Leslie had to overcome doubts he is anything more than an athletic dunker.
ESPN analyst Jay Bilas said Thompkins was “a great value” for the Clippers to get in the second round but brought up Thompkins’ body-fat percentage, which was measured to be 15.5 percent at the NBA combine.
“That’s pretty good if you’re a sealion,” Bilas said. “He could have used another year in school, as could his Georgia teammate Travis Leslie.”
Thompkins earned first-team All-Southeastern Conference honors the past two years. He led the Bulldogs in scoring and rebounding each of his those years and concluded his UGA career with 1,396 points and 693 rebounds. Those figures rank 13th and 10th, respectively, on the school’s career charts.
Leslie was a second-team All-SEC pick by the league’s head coaches this past season. He averaged 14.4 points and 7.2 rebounds in 2011, second on the team behind Thompkins in both categories. Leslie also handed out 97 assists. He finished his career 1,099 points, which ranks 30th in UGA history.