The 1961 NBA draft was the 15th annual draft of the National Basketball Association (NBA). The draft was held on March 27, 1961, before the 1961–62 season. In this draft, nine NBA teams took turns selecting amateur U.S. college basketball players. A player who had finished his four-year college eligibility was eligible for selection. If a player left college early, he would not be eligible for selection until his college class graduated. In each round, the teams select in reverse order of their win–loss record in the previous season. Before the draft, a team could forfeit its first-round draft pick and then select any player from within a 50-mile radius of its home arena as their territorial pick. An expansion franchise, the Chicago Packers, were assigned the first pick of the first round and the last pick of each subsequent round, along with five extra picks at the end of the second round. The draft consisted of 15 rounds comprising 107 players selected.
|1961 NBA draft|
|Date(s)||March 27, 1961|
|Location||New York City, New York|
|107 total selections in 15 rounds|
|First selection||Walt Bellamy, Chicago Packers|
Walt Bellamy from the Indiana University was selected first overall by the Chicago Packers. Bellamy went on to win the Rookie of the Year Award in his first season and was also selected to the All-Star Game. In his rookie season, he averaged 31.6 points per game, the second highest scoring average for a rookie, and 19.0 rebounds per game, the third highest rebounding average for a rookie. He was selected to four consecutive All-Star Games during his stint with the Packers, which later became the Chicago Zephyrs and Baltimore Bullets. He then played for three other NBA teams during his 14-year career. For his achievements, he has been inducted to the Basketball Hall of Fame.
Three other players from this draft, 7th pick Tom Meschery, 21st pick Don Kojis and 32nd pick Bill Bridges, have also been selected to at least one All-Star Game. Doug Moe, the 22nd pick, never played in the NBA. His contract with the Packers was voided due to his suspected involvement in the college basketball point shaving scandal. He eventually played in the American Basketball Association (ABA) for five years. He won the ABA championship in 1969 and was selected to three ABA All-Star Games and two All-ABA Teams. After his playing career, he became a head coach. He coached four NBA teams and won the Coach of the Year Award in 1988 with the Denver Nuggets. Ray Scott, the 4th pick, played for the Detroit Pistons for five and a half seasons before he moved on to play with two other teams in the NBA and ABA. After retiring as a player in 1972, he immediately became a head coach. He coached the Pistons for three and a half seasons and won the Coach of the Year Award in 1974. Two other players drafted also went on to have a coaching career: 12th pick Johnny Egan and 60th pick Donnie Butcher.
|^||Denotes player who has been inducted to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame|
|+||Denotes player who has been selected for at least one All-Star Game|
|#||Denotes player who never appeared in an NBA regular season or playoff game|
|1||1||Walt Bellamy^||C||United States||Chicago Packers||Indiana|
|1||2||Tom Stith||F||United States||New York Knicks||St. Bonaventure|
|1||3||Larry Siegfried||F||United States||Cincinnati Royals||Ohio State|
|1||4||Ray Scott||F/C||United States||Detroit Pistons||Allentown Jets (EPBL)|
|1||5||Wayne Yates||C||United States||Los Angeles Lakers||Memphis State|
|1||6||Ben Warley||G/F||United States||Syracuse Nationals||Cleveland Pipers (NIBL)|
|1||7||Tom Meschery+||F||United States1[›]||Philadelphia Warriors||Saint Mary's (CA)|
|1||8||Cleo Hill||G||United States||St. Louis Hawks||Winston-Salem State|
|1||9||Gary Phillips||G||United States||Boston Celtics||Houston|
|2||10||Whitey Martin||G||United States||New York Knicks||St. Bonaventure|
|2||11||Bob Wiesenhahn||F||United States||Cincinnati Royals||Cincinnati|
|2||12||Johnny Egan||G||United States||Detroit Pistons||Providence|
|2||13||Fred Sawyer#||C||United States||Los Angeles Lakers||Louisville|
|2||14||Chris Smith#||C||United States||Syracuse Nationals||Virginia Tech|
|2||15||Ted Luckenbill||F||United States||Philadelphia Warriors||Houston|
|2||16||Ron Horn||F||United States||St. Louis Hawks||Indiana|
|2||17||Al Butler||G||United States||Boston Celtics||Niagara|
|2||18||Jack Turner||G/F||United States||Chicago Packers||Louisville|
|2||19||Jerry Graves#||F||United States||Chicago Packers||Mississippi State|
|2||20||York Larese||G||United States||Chicago Packers||North Carolina|
|2||21||Don Kojis+||F||United States||Chicago Packers||Marquette|
|2||22||Doug Moe#||G/F||United States||Chicago Packers||North Carolina|
|2||23||Jeff Cohen#||C||United States||Chicago Packers||William & Mary|
|3||25||Bevo Nordmann||C||United States||Cincinnati Royals||Saint Louis|
|3||26||Doug Kistler||F||United States||Detroit Pistons||Duke|
|3||28||Chuck Osborne||F||United States||Syracuse Nationals||Western Kentucky|
|3||32||Bill Bridges+||F/C||United States||Chicago Packers||Kansas|
|4||33||George Blaney||G||United States||New York Knicks||Holy Cross|
|5||42||Bill Smith||G/F||United States||New York Knicks||Saint Peter's|
|5||44||Danny Doyle||F||United States||Detroit Pistons||Belmont Abbey|
|5||50||Howie Carl||G||United States||Chicago Packers||DePaul|
|6||51||Cleveland Buckner||F/C||United States||New York Knicks||Jackson State|
|7||60||Donnie Butcher||G||United States||New York Knicks||Pikeville|
|7||61||Dave Zeller||G||United States||Cincinnati Royals||Miami (OH)|
|10||91||Larry Comley||G||United States||Chicago Packers||Kansas State|
|11||92||Kevin Loughery||G||United States||New York Knicks||St. John's|
|12||100||George Patterson||F/C||United States||Cincinnati Royals||Toledo|
^ 1: Tom Meschery (formerly Tomislav Mescheryakov) was born in Harbin, Manchuria (now part of China) to Russian parents. He moved to the United States at the age of 8 and became a naturalized U.S. citizen.
Elbert J. "Al" Butler (July 9, 1938 – July 12, 2000) was an American basketball player.
Born in Rochester, New York, he played collegiately for Niagara University.
He was selected by the Boston Celtics in the 2nd round (17th pick overall) of the 1961 NBA draft.
He played for the Celtics (1961), New York Knicks (1962–64) and Baltimore Bullets (1964–65) in the NBA for 234 games.
Butler died of cancer on July 12, 2000.Allentown Jets
The Allentown Jets were a minor league basketball team that played in the Eastern Professional Basketball League (later the Eastern Basketball Association and Continental Basketball Association) from 1958 to 1981. The team was one of the most successful franchises in CBA/Eastern League history, winning eight playoff championships and 12 division titles.
Originally formed in 1957 as the Wilmington Jets, the team relocated in 1958 to Allentown, Pennsylvania. Among the Jets' top players were center Roman "Big Daddy" Turmon, Ray Scott NBA player and coach.Scorer, rebounder Harthorne Wingo, and 3-point specialist Brendan McCann & Bill "BO" White. The Delaware Sports Museum and Hall of Fame inducted Richard Koffenberger, who played for the team in Wilmington. The Jets had a working agreement with the New York Knicks, who sent several players to Allentown for playing time.
Scott was the fourth player picked in the USA in the 1961 NBA draft by the Detroit Pistons, the Jets PR maestro, Johnny Kimock navigated this successful transition making the Jets one of the elite EBL teams.
In 1964, the Jets played an interleague contest with the Grand Rapids Tackers of the Midwest Professional Basketball League. The Jets won 138-136, winning the only minor league "World Series of Basketball" interpromotional game ever held.
In 1979, the franchise rebranded itself as the "Lehigh Valley Jets," in an effort to greater regionalize its fanbase; however, after the 1980-81 season the Jets closed up for good.Bill Smith (basketball, born 1939)
William "Bill" Smith (born April 26, 1939) is a former NBA basketball player. Smith was drafted with the first pick in the fifth round of the 1961 NBA Draft by the New York Knicks. He played in nine games for the Knicks in the 1961-62 NBA season and averaged 2.6 points per game, 0.7 assists per game and 1.8 rebounds per game.Bob Wiesenhahn
Robert B. Wiesenhahn, Jr. (born December 22, 1938) is an American former professional basketball player.Cleo Hill
Cleo Hill (April 24, 1938 – August 10, 2015) was an American professional basketball player who was selected by the St. Louis Hawks in the first round (8th overall) of the 1961 NBA draft. A 6 ft 1 in (1.85 m) guard from Newark, New Jersey and the Winston-Salem State University, Hill played in the National Basketball Association for one season with the Hawks, in 1961–62, averaging 5.5 points in 58 games. Hill was only the fifth African-American from an historically Black college and university to be taken in the first round of an NBA draft.
In 2008, Hill was profiled in a segment on the ESPN documentary Black Magic, which told the story of African Americans and basketball. The segment asserted that early in that 1961–62 season, St. Louis Hawks coach Paul Seymour was told by team management to severely diminish Hill's offensive role so that stars Bob Pettit, Cliff Hagan, and Clyde Lovellette (who were all white) would receive more shot attempts. Seymour refused and was fired, and Hill's scoring averaged dropped from 10.8 points per game to 5.5 points per game. Hill never played in the NBA after that season.Hill had denied that his race was a factor in his NBA struggles, saying, "It wasn't racial. It was points." He went on to become a successful head coach at Essex County College in Newark, New Jersey. A resident of Orange, New Jersey, Hill died at his home there on August 10, 2015.Cleveland Buckner
Cleveland Buckner (August 17, 1938 – October 5, 2006) was an American basketball player. A forward/center from Yazoo City, Mississippi, he played collegiately for the Jackson State University and was selected by the New York Knicks in the 6th round (51st pick overall) of the 1961 NBA Draft.
He played 68 games for the Knicks in the NBA from 1961 to 1963.
Buckner played against Wilt Chamberlain during Chamberlain's 100-point game on March 2, 1962. Buckner had 33 points and 8 rebounds and shot 16/26 in that game. Two days prior, he allowed Wilt to score 28 points in a quarter against him.Don Kojis
Donald R. Kojis (born January 15, 1939) is a former professional basketball player. Born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, he attended Marquette University and was drafted by the Chicago Packers in the second round (12th pick) of the 1961 NBA Draft. He played forward for the Baltimore Bullets (1963–64), Detroit Pistons (1964–66), Chicago Bulls (1966–67) (acquired prior to the season via the expansion draft), San Diego Rockets (1967–70) (acquired prior to the 1967–68 season via the expansion draft), Seattle SuperSonics (1970–72) and Kansas City-Omaha Kings (1972–75). Kojis was one of three players ever selected in expansion drafts held in consecutive years (Bob Weiss and George Wilson being the other two) (Wilson was selected in three consecutive expansion drafts). Kojis was also one of a small number of players who played for three expansion teams (Kojis playing for the 1961–62 Packers, the 1966–67 Bulls, and the 1967–68 Rockets).
He was named to the 1968 and 1969 NBA West All-Star Teams.
He holds the Pistons' record for most field goal attempts per 48 minutes (25.35).
In 12 seasons he played in 814 Games, had 19,241 Minutes Played, 3,947 Field Goals Made, 8,853 Field Goals Attempted, .446 Field Goal Percentage, 2,054 Free Throws Made, 2,853 Free Throws Attempted, .720 Free Throw Percentage, 4,555 Rebounds, 1,112 Assists, 1,937 Personal Fouls and 9,948 Points.
He played for the United States men's national basketball team at the 1963 FIBA World Championship.Kojis resides in the San Diego County community of Julian, California as the director of Whispering Winds Catholic Conference Center.Donnie Butcher
Donnis "Donnie" Butcher (February 8, 1936 – October 8, 2012) was an American basketball player. A 6'1" guard from Pikeville College, Crum was selected by the New York Knickerbockers in the seventh round of the 1961 NBA Draft.Doug Kistler
Douglas C. Kistler (March 21, 1938 – February 29, 1980) was an American basketball player. He attended Wayne High School in Radnor, Pennsylvania.A 6'9" (2.06 m), 210 lb (95 kg) power forward, Kistler played at Duke University from 1959 to 1961, earning the ACC Men's Basketball Tournament Most Valuable Player Award in 1960. Kistler was selected by the Detroit Pistons in the 3rd round (3rd pick, 26th overall) of the 1961 NBA Draft. He played five games for the New York Knicks during the 1961–62 NBA season and averaged 1.6 points per game.Kistler died in an automobile accident in Charlotte, North Carolina in 1980.George Patterson (basketball)
George Patterson (November 26, 1939 – December 22, 2003) was an American basketball player who played in the National Basketball Association. Patterson was originally drafted in the twelfth round of the 1961 NBA draft by the Cincinnati Royals. He would finally play in the NBA with the Detroit Pistons from 1967 to 1968. Later, he was selected by the Milwaukee Bucks in the 1968 NBA Expansion Draft.
He attended high school in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.George Patterson was the grandfather of Shea Patterson, quarterback of the University of Michigan football team.Howie Carl
Howard Hershey Carl (June 7, 1938 – October 24, 2005) was an American basketball player.
Born in Chicago, Illinois, he played collegiately for DePaul University.
He was selected by the Chicago Packers in the 5th round (50th pick overall) of the 1961 NBA draft.
He played for the Packers (1961–62) in the NBA for 31 games.Jack Turner (basketball, born 1939)
John F. "Jack" Turner (June 5, 1939 – May 5, 2013) was a National Basketball Association (NBA) player for the Chicago Packers. He was drafted with the ninth pick in the second round of the 1961 NBA Draft by the Chicago Packers. In his one NBA season, Turner averaged 4.8 points per game, 2.0 rebounds per game and 1.0 assist per game.Turner died on May 5, 2013 at the age of 73.Jeff Cohen (basketball)
Jeffrey Maxwell Cohen (October 6, 1939 – June 23, 1978) was an All-American basketball player at the College of William & Mary in 1960-61. He was selected as the 14th pick in the second round (23rd overall) of the 1961 NBA Draft by the Chicago Packers (now the Washington Wizards).At William & Mary, Cohen played his way into the NCAA record books. He is the ninth all-time leading rebounder in the pre-1973 college basketball era, having grabbed 1,679 boards. He is one of very few men's basketball players in NCAA history to score 2,000 points and grab 1,000 rebounds during a collegiate career. At the time of his graduation, he was only one of 10 players to ever accomplish that feat. Cohen's 2,003 career points rank third all-time at William & Mary. He was a three-time All-Southern Conference selection from 1959 to 1961, and in 1990 he had his jersey number retired posthumously. Additionally, Jeff set a W&M single game scoring record of 49 points on February 25, 1961. He was a member of the Sigma Nu fraternity.Despite being drafted to the NBA, Jeff was never signed by any team. He spent some time playing professionally in the now-defunct American Basketball League from 1961 to 1963. As a member of the Hawaii Chiefs, he averaged 10.8 points, 6.6 rebounds and 0.6 assists per game for the 1961-62 season. The following season, Cohen averaged 12.5 points, 8.0 rebounds and 1.2 assists while playing for the Chicago Majors.Larry Comley
Lawrence Robert "Larry" Comley (August 17, 1939 – January 21, 2006) was an American professional basketball player. Comley was selected in the 1961 NBA draft by the Chicago Packers after a collegiate career at Kansas State. He played for the Baltimore Bullets in the 1963–64 season and appeared in 12 total games.Ron Horn
Ronald "Ron" Horn (May 24, 1938 – October 5, 2002) was a professional basketball player who played in the NBA and ABA. Ron was drafted with the seventh pick in the second round of the 1961 NBA Draft by the St. Louis Hawks. After playing one season with the Hawks, Ron played with the Los Angeles Lakers for a season. Horn also played in 1967-68 for the Denver Rockets of the ABA.Horn played collegiate basketball for IU, spending one season (1958–59) on the varsity squad with future NBA star Walt Bellamy and collegiate coach Bob Reinhart. Following his sophomore season, Horn entered the U.S. Military and spent two years (1959–60, 1960–61) playing AAU Men's Basketball on the U.S. Armed Forces team.Horn played scholastically for the Mississinewa High School Indians; leading them to a IHSAA Sectional and Regional titles in 1954. To date, the 1953-54 season remains the deepest IHSAA-tournament run for the Indians.Ted Luckenbill
Theodore "Ted" Luckenbill (July 27, 1939 – June 24, 2012) was an American professional basketball player. He spent two seasons (1961–1963) in the NBA.
A 6'6" forward who attended Elkhart High School and the University of Houston, Luckenbill was selected by the Philadelphia Warriors in the 1961 NBA draft. Luckenbill died in Dallas, Texas on June 24, 2012 at age 72 from cancer.Tom Stith
Thomas Alvin Stith (January 21, 1939 – June 13, 2010), born in Greenville County, Virginia, was an American professional basketball player, formerly of the NBA's New York Knicks. A 6' 5" forward, Stith was an All-American at St. Bonaventure University in 1960 and 1961.Wayne Yates
Wayne Yates (born November 7, 1937) is a retired American basketball player and coach. He played for the Los Angeles Lakers of the National Basketball Association and later was a college coach, most notably at Memphis State University (now the University of Memphis).Whitey Martin
Ronald Barry "Whitey" Martin (born April 11, 1939) is a former NBA basketball player for the New York Knicks. Martin received his nickname "Whitey," because of bleach-blond hair color. In college, Martin was mainly known as an exceptional ballhandler and defensive player. In a 1961 Sports Illustrated article, Martin was described as a "6-foot-2 sandy-haired senior with hands as quick as a nervous pickpocket." Martin was drafted with the first pick in the second round of the 1961 NBA Draft. He played sixty-six games in the 1961-62 NBA season for the Knicks and averaged 3.4 points per game, 2.4 rebounds per game and 1.7 assists per game.
1961–62 NBA season by team