How did OKC Thunder players perform in March Madness?

Jared Butler #12 of the Baylor Bears (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jared Butler #12 of the Baylor Bears (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) /

With the NCAA March Madness Tournament well underway, what better time than to look back on how the OKC Thunder players performed in March?

Of the current Thunder roster, nine players have competed in the tournament during their college career. We will look at each player’s performances in the tournament to see which Thunder was the best in March.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander – Kentucky

The former Kentucky guard only played one year in college, but it was a fantastic one. The No. 5 seed Wildcats made it to the sweet sixteen, thanks in large part to Gilgeous-Alexander.

In the first round against Davidson, he dropped 19 points to pair alongside seven assists and five steals, in a 78-73 win.

Gilgeous-Alexander would have his best game against Buffalo in the second round, scoring 27 points with six assists on an impressive 83% shooting night. The Wildcats would defeat Buffalo by 20 points, moving on to the sweet sixteen against Kansas State.

While Kentucky lost this game, Gilgeous-Alexander was still able to have a 15/5/5 game, albeit on 2-10 shooting. His tournament play was good enough to get him drafted at the 11th pick in the 2018 NBA Draft.

Jared Butler – Baylor

One of the newest additions to the Thunder, Jared Butler, won an NCAA championship in his college career.

The former Baylor guard played three seasons with the Bears, with the championship coming in the third.

His first tournament run was just two games in his freshman year, where he scored 14 points in a win against Syracuse, but lost against Gonzaga in the second round while scoring 11.

The 2020 NCAA Tournament was canceled due to the COVID-19 virus, so Butler would have to wait until 2021.

There, Butler would explode for an average of 15 points in six games, including 22 points and 7 assists in the championship win against Gonzaga, getting his revenge for 2019.

Luguentz Dort – Arizona State University

Dort’s single college season at Arizona State University was an impressive one, leading his team to a first four game for an 11 seed.

ASU defeated St. John’s thanks to a 21 point performance on 6-11 shooting from Dort, but they could not defeat Buffalo in the first round. Dort struggled in that game, only scoring 12 points on a poor 4-12 shooting night.

While undrafted, the OKC Thunder saw enough in Dort to give him a contract shortly after the NBA draft concluded in 2019.

Chet Holmgren – Gonzaga

Holmgren’s season with Gonzaga was nothing short of spectacular, which impressed the Thunder enough to draft the 7 footer at the 2nd pick in the 2022 NBA Draft.

Gonzaga had a disappointing exit in the sweet sixteen to Arkansas, but Holmgren played very well throughout the tournament. The center averaged both 13 points and 13 rebounds, with just over four blocks a game.

Holmgren’s best performance came in the first round against Georgia State, where he scored 19 points and blocked his opponents seven times.

Jaylin Williams – Arkansas

Jaylin Williams came out of college as a 2-year player at Arkansas, where he made the tournament each season.

Both seasons Arkansas found its way to the elite eight, but Williams only played a significant role in his sophomore season. The forward averaged over 14 points and nearly 12 rebounds in Arkansas four 2022 March Madness games, playing a pivotal role in the Razorbacks success.

Williams’ play in the tournament boosted his draft stock enough to be drafted early in the second round to the Thunder.

Tre Mann – Florida

While not playing a whole lot in his freshman season, Mann was able to improve massively to lead his Florida team into March Madness in his sophomore year.

The Gators were knocked out in the second round, but Mann performed well in both games. In a win against Virginia Tech he scored 14 points, and in a loss against the cinderella Oral Roberts team, he scored 19 points.

The OKC Thunder drafted Mann in the first round at pick 18 in 2021 after a high-scoring college season.

Kenrich Williams – TCU

Williams spent three seasons at TCU, but only was able to play in one March Madness game.

The Horned Frogs lost to Syracuse in a close game, where Williams scored 14 points, leading his team in that department.

Aaron Wiggins – Maryland

Out of three seasons at Maryland, Wiggins played in two NCAA Tournaments.

Similar to Williams, Wiggins had a smaller role during his freshman year, although he scored 11 points in the second round.

In his junior season, Wiggins played great in both of Maryland’s games. In the first round he scored 14 points, and even though the Maryland was eliminated by Alabama in the second round, Wiggins exploded for 27 points on 5-8 shooting from three-point range.

Wiggins was drafted late in the second round by the OKC Thunder at pick 55 in 2021, which ended up being a steal for the Thunder.

Jeremiah Robinson-Earl – Villanova

Robinson-Earl spent two years at Villanova, with an impressive run in his sophomore year.

The forward put up 22 points and 11 rebounds in the first round, and 18 points and six rebounds in the second.

Unfortunately, Robinson-Earl slowed down offensively in the sweet sixteen against Butler’s Baylor team, where he only put up eight points to pair with a tournament-high 12 rebounds.

The OKC Thunder saw promise in the forward, drafting him at the second pick in the second round of the 2021 NBA Draft.

Next. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Chet Holmgren star in commercials. dark