Lucky No. 27

SCU junior Jalen Williams ’23 is the 27th NBA Draft pick in program history—and the first since Steve Nash ’96.

The Oklahoma City Thunder tapped Jalen Williams ’23 in June 2022, making him the 27th NBA draft pick in Santa Clara basketball history. It’s been 26 years since a Bronco was drafted by the NBA—the Phoenix Suns took Steve Nash ’96 in 1996. “I’m just ready to work hard,” Williams said at a post-draft press conference. “Super excited.”

Williams was selected 12th overall, making him the second highest drafted prospect in SCU program history, behind only Ken Sears ’55 who went fourth in 1955.  The Thunder also struck twice with Williams, later picking Jaylin Williams from the University of Arkansas in the second round.

SCU’s Williams played defense for the Broncos and established himself as a sharpshooter and premier athlete in the West Coast Conference. He earned first team All-WCC honors during his junior year after averaging 18 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 4.1 assists per game. Williams finished his junior season with 594 points, the eighth-most in a single season in Santa Clara’s history.

Jalen Williams
Jalen Williams ’23 has long said Kobe Bryant was his biggest inspiration to get into basketball. At Santa Clara, Williams wore No. 24, and for Oklahoma City, he’ll wear No. 8, both nods to Bryant. Photo courtesy SCU.

In one of his most memorable games with SCU, on January 27 of this year, Jalen clinched the game-winning shot just before the buzzer to win 77 to 76 against BYU. On March 7 he also helped secure SCU’s upset victory over rival Saint Mary’s.

“With Jalen, if you add all that up, you just have a guy that keeps finding ways to move the needle and get better,” SCU coach Herb Sendek said in an interview with The Athletic.

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