The top nine NBA players who were Xavier Musketeers in college

Sumner's decision recalls past XU stars in pros

CINCINNATI – Xavier’s Edmond Sumner announced made headlines in February when he announced he would take the leap into the NBA draft. The sophomore guard won’t be the first Musketeer in "The Association" and he surely won’t be the last.

But how much success have Xavier products had at the next level? Surprisingly, some of the biggest stars over the years haven’t even made an NBA roster.

RELATED: Edmond Sumner opens up about why he decided to go pro

For example, the closest 6-foot-10 fan favorite Matt Stainbrook came to playing in the NBA was in its summer league. He now plays professionally in Europe.

Romain Sato averaged 15.4 points per game for the Musketeers and was drafted in the second round in 2004 by the San Antonio Spurs, but was cut before he ever played an NBA game.

Even Byron Larkin -- one of the most decorated Xavier athletes ever who ranks 23rd on the all-time Division I men’s career scoring list with 2,696 points -- never played for an NBA team.

That said, there are plenty of Musketeers who have made nice careers in the NBA. Will Sumner be among them or struggle to make a splash in the league like some of his contemporaries?

Here are the top nine NBA careers of Xavier players based on longevity, productivity and accolades. And it's based on NBA performance only -- not D-League, Europe or any other pro teams.

9. Luther Rackley

Maybe not a household name for today’s Xavier fan, but the 6-foot-10 Rackley had three solid seasons for the Musketeers between 1966-69. He averaged 15.4 points and 12.7 rebounds. Those numbers were good enough to get him picked in the third round -- yes, there were more than two rounds back then -- of the 1969 draft by the hometown Cincinnati Royals.

Rackley’s numbers were modest as he bounced between five teams in seven seasons, including one with the ABA's Memphis Tams. But we’ll give him No. 9 on the list for an off-the-court accomplishment -- Rackley has two movie credits to his name. He appeared in the 1977 film “The Last Dinosaur” and 1979’s “The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh,” a basketball story that starred basketball Hall of Famer Julius “Dr. J” Erving. That has to be worth something.

8. Dave Piontek

Even more of a blast from the past than Rackley, Piontek played just one season for the Musketeers in 1955-56. The 6-foot-5 forward averaged 15.8 points and a whopping 15.3 rebounds in his lone season.

Dave Piontek (Wikipedia)

He was picked in the third round of the 1956 NBA draft by the Rochester Royals, which would become the Cincinnati Royals the following season. Piontek had his best seasons as a Royal, spending five years with the club and averaging 7.8 points in that span. He also played for the St. Louis Hawks and Chicago Zephyrs in his eight-season career.

However, Piontek did not appear in any dinosaur movies -- at least that we know of.

7. Aaron Williams

Ah, now there’s a name current Muskies fans are more likely to know. The athletic 6-foot-9 power forward/center teamed with Brian Grant in the early 1990s to form an imposing front line.

Aaron Williams made two NBA Finals with the New Jersey Nets. (Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Despite a solid career at Xavier, Williams went undrafted. But that didn’t stop him from having one of the longest -- and most traveled -- pro careers of any Xavier product. Williams spent 14 seasons in the NBA with a vagabond-like 10 different teams. His longest stop was with the New Jersey Nets, where he averaged 7.2 points in 336 games. He went to the NBA Finals in 2002 and 2003 with the Nets. His shortest stint was one game with the Denver Nuggets.

He also got to be part of a big trade in 2004 as part of a package that went from the Nets to the Toronto Raptors for superstar Vince Carter.

While he didn’t settle in one place, lasting 714 games in the NBA is no small feat.

6. Derek Strong

This Xavier athletics hall of famer was a trailblazer for the great Musketeer tournament teams of recent years. The 6-foot-8 Strong led Xavier to its first Sweet 16 appearance in 1990 and had some monster games, including a 24-point, 24-rebound effort against Loyola Marymount in that, his final season.

Michael Jordan finds an interesting way to defend Derek Strong in 1995. (Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Strong was picked 47th overall by the Philadelphia 76ers in the 1990 draft but never played a minute with the team and was waived in 1992.

Like Williams, Strong bounced around in his career, playing 10 seasons for six different teams. His best was 1997-98 for the Orlando Magic when he averaged 12.7 points and 7.4 rebounds in 58 games.

5. Jordan Crawford

The first player on the list who currently is on an NBA roster, Crawford’s time at Xavier was short but spectacular.

After transferring from Indiana University when a coaching scandal rocked that program, Crawford suited up for the Muskies in the 2009-10 season and averaged 20.5 points. His final game was likely his best, scoring 32 points in a double-overtime loss in the Sweet 16 against No. 2-seeded Kansas State.

Crawford’s big season was enough to inspire him to declare for the draft.

Jordan Crawford has given the New Orleans Pelicans an offensive spark this season. (Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Taken in the first round in 2010 by the New Jersey Nets, he was immediately traded to the Atlanta Hawks. Since then, he has bounced around a lot. Now in his eighth season, he has suited up for five teams. Despite his travels, he has been a solid NBA scorer, averaging 12.2 points in his career.

But really, what he will always be remembered for will be the time as a college kid he dunked on LeBron James in a summer league game. It was so embarrassing for King James that Nike tried to keep the world from seeing it. Nice try.

4. James Posey

This is a former Musketeer with some rings to show he had a very successful NBA career. The 6-foot-8 forward made his mark as a top sixth man and defensive stopper in college, but was also an offensive threat, averaging 15.3 points for Xavier from 1996-99.

James Posey has more NBA championships than any other Xavier product. (Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

The 18th overall pick in the 1999 draft, Posey spent four seasons as a key member of the Denver Nuggets before being traded to the Houston Rockets. He played 13 seasons for seven different teams.

Two of those teams were special. In 2006, Posey was part of a Miami Heat team that included Dwyane Wade and Shaquille O’Neal that beat the Dallas Mavericks for the NBA title. In 2008, Posey again was part of a title team as Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett led the Boston Celtics past the Los Angeles Lakers. Posey was a key contributor on both squads.

He also won a ring as an assistant coach with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016.

3. Brian Grant

Grant is one of the all-time great Musketeers. The two-time Midwestern Collegiate Conference player of the year and Georgetown, Ohio native finished with over 1,700 points and 1,000 rebounds in his four years at Xavier.

Brian Grant’s strong rebounding at Xavier translated well to the NBA. (Eliot J. Schechter/Getty Images)

The eighth overall pick of the 1994 draft by the Sacramento Kings, Grant made the NBA’s all-rookie first team. At 6-foot-9, 254 pounds, his ability to rebound made him a valuable commodity throughout a 12-season career with five different teams. He managed to average a double-double -- 10.3 points and 10.2 rebounds -- for the Miami Heat in 2002-03 and averaged double-digit points in six other seasons.

In 2008, Grant was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. He has established the Brian Grant Foundation to help others with the disease.

2. Tyrone Hill

The Withrow High School product is one the great rebounders in NCAA history. Hill finished his Xavier career with a stunning 2,003 points and 1,380 rebounds and was part of both the school’s first NCAA tournament team in 1987 and first Sweet 16 team, with Strong, in 1990. This led the 6-foot-9 power forward to become the first NBA lottery pick from Xavier, taken 11th overall in the 1990 draft by the Golden State Warriors.

Cleveland Cavalier Tyrone Hill goes up strong against the Chicago Bulls in a 1994 game. (Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Hill had a very good 14-year career with five NBA teams. His best years came with the Cleveland Cavaliers where he averaged 10.8 points and 9.2 rebounds over six seasons. He also made the Eastern Conference All-Star Team while with the Cavaliers in 1994-95.

Hill wasn’t afraid to lay the smackdown, leading the NBA in personal fouls in 1991-92 with Golden State.

He was also part of the 2001 Philadelphia 76ers, which fell in the NBA Finals to the Los Angeles Lakers.

1. David West

One can make the case that West is the greatest player in Musketeers history. The 6-foot-9 forward was the 2002-03 consensus national player of the year and a first-team All-America selection. He won three Atlantic 10 Player of the Year awards and finished with a gaudy 2,132 career points and 1,308 rebounds.

David West: an NBA warrior. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

What can’t really be disputed is that West is the best NBA player to ever come from Xavier. Drafted 18th overall by the New Orleans Hornets in 2003, West just wrapped up his 14th season, playing for the Golden State Warriors. He’s the only two-time NBA All-Star from Xavier, making the team in 2008 and 2009.

West has averaged 14.2 points and 6.6 rebounds in his career, including cracking the 20 ppg mark in his All-Star seasons. He has now added a championship ring to his resume as the Warriors went 16-1 in the 2017 playoffs and beat the Cleveland Cavaliers in five games in the NBA Finals. West played a key role as a contributor off the bench averaging 13 minutes and 4.5 points per game while making appearances in all 17 games for the Warriors.

Also, West hasn't forgotten his Xavier roots. He attended the Musketeers' Sweet 16 upset over Arizona and addressed the team when it made the Elite 8 in San Jose.

Dave Niinemets is a Digital Enterprise Editor at WCPO.com and oversees sports content for the digital team. This article was originally published in February 2017 but was modified to reflect David West's NBA championship win.

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