PGU is counting down our 25 greatest Wildcats of all time. To see the honorable mention and how the rankings are formulated, click here.
#25: Hassan Adams (35.08 points)
#24: Sean Rooks (35.29 points)
#23: Anthony Cook (35.74 points)
#22: Al Fleming (37.31 points)
#21: Chase Budinger (37.52 points)
Time As a Wildcat
Some people are just blessed with athletic ability and Chase Budinger is one of them. As a high school senior in Encinitas, California, he was a McDonald’s All-American while at the same time considered to be one of the top prep volleyball players in the nation, with the Olympics likely in his future.
Fortunately for Arizona, the 6’7 forward chose to focus on hoops and in hindsight, that was a smart choice.
As a freshman, Budinger immediately showed why he had been considered one of the top recruits in his class, averaging 15.6 to go with nearly six rebounds. Back when this award was very tough to earn, he was named the Pac-10 Freshman of the Year, one of only six Cats ever to receive that acknowledgement.
He then went on to raise his scoring average the next two seasons; 17.1 ppg as a sophomore and an even 18 his final year in Tucson. His 17.0 career scoring average ranks tenth all time.
Budinger was multidimensional on the floor, seen by his high rebound and assists averages and a .383 three point shooting percentage.
After a phenomenal junior year where he helped lead Arizona to an unlikely Sweet 16 run, he officially took his talents to the next level.
Career After Arizona
Budinger was the 44th pick in the 2009 NBA Draft, originally selected by the Detroit Pistons but then traded to the Houston Rockets on draft night.
While he has yet to earn a starting role, his stats have increased year by year and in the 2011-2012, he saw about 22 minutes of action a night. A scoring average of nearly double digits and .400 shooting percentage from behind the arc make Budinger a key player for the Rockets, and his role could increase next season.
He was someone who could really do it all. From rebounding to distributing the ball, what more could you ask out of a hybrid big man? His scoring just made him even more deadly.
More than that, he helped Arizona keep The Streak going and in a rough transition period, Budinger was always a constant to show up and perform. His decision to stay three years may very well be part of the reason why the program is where it is today.