Christian Koloko taken early in second round of 2022 NBA Draft
In the modern draft era (since 1989), two current Pac-12 programs have had at least three draft picks among the first 40 selections in a draft—Arizona and UCLA.
The Wildcats did it again Thursday night. After a pair of top-20 selections in Bennedict Mathurin and Dalen Terry, Christian Koloko became Pick No. 3 for the Wildcats on the night when the Toronto Raptors took him in the second round with the 33rd overall pick.
Welcome to the family, @kolokojunior1#WeTheNorth | #NBADraft pic.twitter.com/jRYKzRQaUg
— Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) June 24, 2022
The 7-footer at the heart of Arizona’s defense developed into one of the most impactful players in the conference last season, taking home both Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year and Most Improved Player awards.
He averaged 12.6 points to go with 7.3 rebounds, 2.8 blocks, and 1.4 assists while shooting 63.5% from the floor. Koloko tied a program single-season record for blocks (102) and departed the program as the fifth all-time leading shot-blocker for his career.
Koloko has great shot-blocking instincts to pair with remarkable length and fluidity. He ended the regular season leading the Pac-12 in PER, defensive win shares, per-40 win shares, defensive box plus/minus, overall box plus/minus, and block percentage. As Arizona ran through its schedule to a record of 33-4, Koloko was a major driving force.
The common draft comparison Koloko received was to Atlanta Hawks center Clint Capela. He certainly has the hops. He flashed good feel as a roll man, but the offense is definitely still a work in progress.
With the Raptors, he joins a club that went 48-34 last season but lost in the first round of the playoffs. Versatile big man Chris Boucher is a free agent and could depart. Toronto has frontcourt options in Pascal Siakam, Khem Birch, and Precious Achiuwa all under contract for next season.