June 25, 2009
VILLANOVA, Pa. - Dante Cunningham, who helped lead the Villanova Wildcats to the 2009 NCAA Final Four as a senior, was selected by the Portland Trail Blazers with the 33rd overall pick in the National Basketball Association draft on Thursday night.
"We are thrilled for Dante," stated Villanova head coach Jay Wright. "Our team watched the draft together and all of us are very proud. We knew the Trail Blazers liked him - they said from the beginning that he was a good fit for their organization."
Cunningham - who was in his native Maryland watching with family members on draft night - was named the BIG EAST's Most Improved Player and paced the `Cats in scoring (16.2 ppg) and rebounding (7.3 rpg). He was also selected second team All-BIG EAST and first team All-Philadelphia Big Five for his efforts in 2008-09.
In addition, he was an integral part of the winningest class in Villanova basketball history. Over the course of his four seasons, VU won 102 games, advanced to three NCAA Tournament Sweet 16's, a pair of NCAA Elite Eights and the school's first Final Four since the 1985 squad captured its improbable crown.
The native of Silver Spring, Md., becomes the third `Cat in the last four seasons to hear his name called on draft night. Former teammates Randy Foye and Kyle Lowry were both first round selections in the 2006 NBA draft.