The Houston Rockets were not the only Rockets to make a splash in the 2022 NBA Draft.
For the first time since 1998, a Toledo Rocket went off the board when shooting guard Ryan Rollins was selected by the NBA champion Golden State Warriors with the 44th pick of the second round. Rollins is the second Toledo alumnus drafted in the lottery era and the first since Casey Shaw went to the Philadelphia 76ers at the 37th overall pick 24 years ago.
The Warriors acquired the pick from the Atlanta Hawks for the 51st overall pick and $2 million, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
The 6’4”, 180 pound combo guard drew eyes due to his scoring abilities in his two years at Toledo. The First Team All-MAC selection accumulated 18.9 points per game en route to the third-highest scoring season in Rocket history. He displayed incredible efficiency on his drives and converted on 53.6 percent of his 2-point field goal attempts. From beyond the arc, he shot 31.1 percent in his sophomore campaign and roughly 30 percent of his looks came from downtown. In terms of other guard skills, Rollins displayed hints of playmaking to the tune of 3.6 assists per game while turning it over 2.2 times per contest in comparison.
Defensively, he comes armed with an impressive 6’8” wingspan and had a knack for generating steals — averaging 1.7 per game last season. Rollins made quite the leap from his freshman year to his sophomore stint, and his most noticeable area of progress came on the defensive end. His individual defensive rating improved from 102.7 to 95.1 across his two seasons on campus.
He demonstrated a strong ability to crash the glass despite his size, collecting double-digit rebounds on three occasions in 2021-22, including a career-best 16 in a dominant win over Ohio in February.
Rollins peaked as a scorer at Toledo when dropping 35 points on 60 percent shooting in a November win over Coastal Carolina in the Bahamas. The Rockets were no stranger to racking up victories with Rollins manning their backcourt, compiling a MAC-best 26-8 record last season while drawing the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament. His college tenure ended in an NIT loss to Dayton before declaring for the NBA Draft.
In an occurrence which hasn’t transpired since 2015 and 2016 (Bowling Green’s Richaun Holmes and Northern Illinois’ Abdel Nader), the MAC produced NBA draft picks in consecutive seasons. Former Ohio point guard Jason Preston joined the Clippers last summer but has yet to make his professional debut due to undergoing surgery in his right foot last October.
Rollins joins the roster of the reigning NBA champion Warriors. With the amount of guards in the rotation in San Francisco — Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Jordan Poole, Gary Payton II, and Moses Moody — it is likely Rollins spends substantial time with the Santa Cruz Warriors of the NBA G League during his rookie campaign. But during training camp and the preseason, the former Toledo standout will have the advantage of learning behind some of the best guards in NBA history including the 2022 NBA Finals MVP.