Do You Remember The Last Cedar Rapids Native Drafted By The NBA?
Later this week, former Hawkeye and Cedar Rapids native Keegan Murray will make a city and state very proud. Murray will hear his name called earlier than any other Iowa basketball player in recent memory, possibly in the top five. But do you remember the last basketball player the played hoops in Cedar Rapids to hear his name called on draft night?
The last player from Cedar Rapids, Iowa to get drafted into the NBA actually has a connection to the one who is about to be drafted. He was actually a teammate of Keegan Murray's dad Kenyon Murray who played for the Hawkeyes in the mid-1990s. That player is Russ Millard. The Cedar Rapids Gazette reports that Millard was a member of the NBA Draft class of 1996. He was drafted in the second round, 39th overall by the Phoenix Suns. That draft class featured just a few other great players. Anyone remember Allen Iverson, Ray Allen, and Kobe Bryant?
Millard told the Gazette that the Houston Rockets wanted him to spend draft night in Houston, but Millard opted to stay in Cedar Rapids surrounded by family and friends. Houston did not take Millard at pick number 30, and he fell to the Phoenix Suns. Back then, second-round NBA picks weren't guaranteed a roster spot. The Gazette reports that 11 of them from that draft class never played in an NBA game. One of them was Russ Millard.
After a stint in the NBA, Millard enjoyed a professional career that took him to France, Spain, Argentina, and Puerto Rico according to the Gazette. He has been married for 25 years and has three kids. Millard currently resides in the Chicago area and is in sales at a BMW dealership. He told the Gazette about being drafted that night, "What an honor it was to be from Cedar Rapids, to be able to put it on the map".
26 years later, Keegan Murray will remind everyone again just where Cedar Rapids, Iowa is.