Staff Photo by Dan Henry Davidson's Stephen Curry, 30, drives around App State's Marcus Wright, 24, during the second half of play. The Davidson Wildcats won over the Appalacian State Mountaineers with a final score of 84-68 during session 3 game 5 of the Southern Conference Basketball Championships held at the McKenzie Arena in Chattanooga, Tenn., Saturday, March 7, 2009.
Stephen Curry rewrote the Southern Conference basketball record book, took Davidson College on his shoulders and carried the conference on his coattails.
The SoCon will continue riding his wave of success for the foreseeable future after the Golden State Warriors made him the first NBA draft lottery pick in conference history Thursday night. He was the seventh overall choice.
"It's new ground for this league and exciting for people associated with the Southern Conference and Davidson," SoCon commissioner John Iamarino said. "Every man appreciates what he's meant to the school and the conference. Even coaches who dreaded playing against him will now be able to enjoy the range, his basketball IQ and enjoy watching him play in prime time."
The SoCon has had 11 players taken in the first round of the NBA draft. Kevin Martin is the most recent to be taken in the first round. The Sacramento Kings selected him out of Western Carolina with the 21st overall pick.
Johnny Taylor from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga was selected 17th by the Orlando Magic in 1997. The other nine players taken in the first round played in the SoCon in the 1950s or 1960s.
"There are a lot of residual benefits," Iamarino said Wednesday, referring to increased visibility, free advertising and positive association for the SoCon. "We're hoping that he gets picked by a team that's visible and popular."
Curry turned Davidson into a nationally recognized program in 2008 when he led the Wildcats to within one bucket of the Final Four.
The All-America guard couldn't lead them back to the NCAA tournament this past year, but he proved to NBA scouts and general managers that he was ready to forgo his senior season and play in the top professional league.
"Being able to shoot the ball is something that's a lost art in the NBA now," Curry said Wednesday on ESPN's "Pardon the Interruption." "A guy who can come in a play the point guard and stretch the 'D' with the way I can shoot it, hopefully GMs will like that."
UTC coach John Shulman went 1-6 against Curry-led Wildcats including two loses in the SoCon tournament. He'll enjoy facing the Wildcats without an All-American next season, but he said he'd be cheering for Curry and the SoCon while watching the draft with his family.
"I'm really excited because I've known him since he was a pee-wee," Shulman said. "It's a great night for him and for Davidson and for our league."
Shulman already has used Curry's success in recruiting pitches. If Curry can be a lottery pick after playing in the SoCon, so can somebody else.
"The higher he goes, the better it is for our league," Shulman said. "You can get to the NBA from any league you want to. Steph wasn't heavily recruited; he wasn't in a big league. But look where he is now."
David Uchiyama is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who began his tenure here in May 2001. His primary beats are UTC athletics — specifically men’s basketball and athletic department administration — and golf, which includes coverage from the PGA Tour to youth events. He also covers other high school sports, outdoor adventures, and contributes to other sections of the newspaper when necessary. David grew up in Salinas, Calif., and began working ...